This mantra has been quite the journey for someone who grew up in a home of silent desperation where anger was either totally denied or seethed far, far, far beneath the surface where it bubbled up in passive-aggressive behavior. Stir in my own early traumas that made it impossible for me to "be with" any threat of anger or rejection, and you have the perfect recipe for suppression and avoidance.
Face-to-face communication was a total nightmare if the topic was remotely unpleasant or difficult—so I wrote down my thoughts and feelings in "letters" and dropped them like mega-ton emotional bombs. Declarations of love or ultimatums or fiery anger balls, anything I needed to express but could never bear to say—or bear to be present for any reaction. My mother found them between the bedspread and her pillow but friends and lovers opened them as mail. You've got mail!
With the rarest of exceptions, these incredibly thought-out, extremely intense missives were met with complete and total silence. Nothing was ever said. And little wonder. They were rhetorical in nature, they were bullets from an emotional sniper, and most of the people involved were as tongue-tied as I was. Birds of a feather suffer together.
The person who helped me break through that barrier of silence was the father of my children—a fellow whose own childhood was an intermittently violent and abusive, largely acrimonious and fairly constant war zone. His early conditioning was 180 degrees from mine. (I would give it more degrees but that would have us moving closer together again.) The minister who pronounced us "man and wife" should have followed that statement by issuing camouflage military fatigues and helmets with little branches and twigs glued all over them. "Here you go—you're going to need these."
His expressions of anger incited mine in bursts of what felt like raging self defense from a cornered position and we were off and running. Through the years, and we had 12 of them, we grew into something akin to war buddies. After all, we shared the same foxhole in those relentless clashes with our own and each other's demons. But we also never faltered in a shared commitment to create a healthy, happy, harmonious home life. We slugged and slogged and grew our way through it all, bless our hearts. The man took a lot of direct hits, but he was never blindsided by a sniper letter. And no one has been since. I am cured and free to open my mouth and shout or just sit quietly down and speak the truth and face the music.
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning, a new arrival
A joy, a depression, a meanness
Some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture.
Still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice
Meet them all at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes because each has been sent as a guide from beyond. —Rumi
Being comfortable with the full spectrum of our emotions seems like a lifetime job. The darker ones like shame and jealousy and fear and anger dump a landslide of toxic chemicals into our body and damage our relationships—including the one with Self. But Rumi makes a profound point: Like pain itself, all of them are messengers. And few of them can match anger for its fiery call to action. In Holly's words, "Hanging on to it and clinging to the feeling that comes with it is just as damaging as denying it's existence or our right to feel it." The way to honor our humanness is to feel it and do something with it.
In the case of displaced or inappropriate anger seeping up from unaddressed wounds or unresolved issues, that "something" might be a few years of talk therapy or yoga or anger management or NLP or tapping or brain-spotting or trauma releasing exercises or any number of other modalities.
Present-moment feelings of anger may call for a few moments spent with Seane Corn's "Moving from the fuck you to the bless you" exercise, beginning with a no-punches-held, free-for-all, fuck-you letter that starts with I am angry because... In the same spirit, write down everything that comes up with I am scared/jealous/insecure, etc. Do the same routine for I am sad because... If you wrote all this to someone and not to yourself, go back and cross out every YOU and write MYSELF to look for places of projection. At the very end, you can tear up and flush away or set fire to your letter as a symbol of release.
I'm really hoping this works for me the next time I read another news article about Lord Voldemort Trump, his band of Dementors, most of the GOP, and the billionaires who own the government. I had to laugh out loud at the dentist's office yesterday reading about "what Barack and Michelle are doing now" in PEOPLE magazine. Mention was made of Michelle getting "riled" at Trump's shenanigans. You and me, sistah. I have to take breaks from the steady gush of troubling news just to get some relief from a constant state of rile.
I'm not sure that anyone on the planet—past or present, public figure or intimate—has come close to the assault that Twittler aka Agent Orange wreaks on my emotional and mental and psychological equilibrium. I knew that I had fully entered an alternative reality when the voice and opinions of George Dubbya were beginning to sound like those of a sage humanitarian. Hell had indeed frozen over, no need to grab the remote and flip over to The Weather Channel.
And yet...and yet, I fully agree that Holly and Rumi and Seane are onto something. Anger IS a messenger and a call to action. I can't afford to be lax about my mental and emotional and spiritual hygiene. I have to pay more attention than ever to the Norton Security program in my head that alerts me of potential threats from Fear and Anxiety viruses or hostile takeovers by We're All Gonna Die Horribly! Malware. I have to stay in the moment, joyfully sober, clear-headed, open-hearted, physically fit, one with the natural world, intuitively sensitive, and grounded in love.
My faith in who and what is ultimately in charge has to be re-charged each and every day in meditation—including a powerfully projected vision of the emerging Divine Human and healing transformation for our entire planet. And I need a spiritual tribe, a sangha, a stream of inspiration from and association with Lightbearers and Spiritual Warriors.
It's going to take a lot of mindfulness and yoga and breathing exercises and gongs and singing bowls and "being with" and shedding negativity and tolerance and forgiveness and lemon water and showing up and contributing and pitching in to good causes.
Possibly a little chocolate now and then, I'm not sure yet.
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