Thursday, March 24, 2011


Slow Seethe
(Hold on Hope, 2011)

Anger is a lot like death. We don't talk about it, except in hushed tones.

When people are angry, we rush them out of sight as quickly as possible. People who express anger risk being labeled unstable, unreasonable, hysterical (primarily women), and whatever they say in this self-inflicted state of behaviour must automatically be negated, no matter how true. It's too bad so much of the truth makes me angry. It requires tremendous discipline to accept, accept, accept.

Or maybe, anger is the new sex. We don't talk about it, we just act out in private.

How private is private? What is acting out?

I am an angry person. I feel that I came into this world curious and ready to go, and time and again I was shoved aside, pushed down, discounted, ignored, dismissed, told to lower my sights and act like everyone else or be shunned. Perhaps, given my limitations, it was kindness, but I never enjoyed the process. So I have developed some sensitivity to being dismissed, which of course gets in my way. Even so, I believe that "nurture" is not where my anger came from, exactly. I think I was prone to it from the start, and it was fed by ongoing disappointment as I learned more about the world, history, and how far/not far we've come.

I am, frankly, disappointed with my species, humanity, which has completely missed the point in the grand scheme despite my stalwart optimism. Don't they say that a pessimist is a disappointed optimist? I've devoted much of my self-work to developing a positive attitude, and I train my thinking. But I have a long way to go in my heart.

I feel frustrated and angry with stupidity, injustice, unnecessary complexity, unnecessary simplicity...basically, anything that reminds me that humanity is still struggling with even the basic concept that all life has value, that all life deserves respect and dignity.

I resent anything that reminds me that we are led by selfish, greedy, short-sighted monkeys with such a stranglehold on the systems they created that the rest of us are working our asses off, reading articles about reducing stress and living on less sleep, so that 400 of them can decide what to do with most of the world's wealth. And defending it as though it's actually democracy, they claim changing this system would destroy democratic principles that, in fact, are made mockery by our current system. The ultimate pyramid scheme, my friends, is capitalism without a conscience. To what end? To what end?

There is anger in my genetics, if that is possible, and I have the burden of carrying a piece of that darkness inside of me. It is a gift, as well, and I would not live without it, but it's a heavy, heavy rock to weigh down an otherwise light heart. It makes me a tourist wherever I go, and tells me the secrets in the room. It lets me forgive people for what they are capable of even if they never do it; they feel that and let down their guard enough for me to pass them a moment of hope. It's something.

I believe we must love the dark to bring balance, and the only way to do that is to learn to love the anger in myself so that it can be free to do more positive things than drag me into depressive mires or violent outbursts. That I have largely contained unacceptable externalization to my workouts doesn't make me less angry, just disciplined. That I have been highly disciplined most of my life means only that my anger is more secret.

I have only begun to scratch the surface on this.

*Let me tell you, I am more ashamed to speak of my anger, more afraid of other people's rejection of me as an angry person, than anything else I might reveal. I would rather people see me naked and cold than see me truly angry. I am so uncomfortable that I may not publish this.

(And thus we feed ourselves to the machine.)


  1. Oh. my. Needed to read this tonight. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  2. Thank you for saying that. Putting things out there is only worth it if someone needs it.

  3. I bow! This is brilliant: "I believe we must love the dark to bring balance". I have tears in my eyes because I SO resonate with what you've said here and I know I'm not awake enough right now to even try to fully explain how much this means to me!

    When I was a practicing therapist I LOVED when clients came in angry - I had enough experience with my own anger (and what holding it in did to me) to know that anger meant movement.

    Thank you so much for pushing Publish! Hurrah for your courage!!

  4. This is one of the things I admire most about you. You have great courage. Maybe it doesn't feel like to you, but I see it. We should all be more angry than we are, or at least more than we let on. You claim you anger and that is impressive.

  5. This: "I believe we must love the dark to bring balance." Yes. Everyone has a dark side. Everyone gets angry. It can be a positive tool; you just have to decide the best way for you personally to use it.

    I have a lot to say about this....it makes me angry that there are folks who say that "anger never got us anywhere". This feels like that psuedo-spiritual new age crippling philosophy that is spewed through the filter of that warped Christian ethic, "turn the other cheek".

    I'm thinking that folks who live this kind of ethic never spoke to the folks that started the french revolution, or escaped the death camp in the Holocaust, or overthrew the government in Egypt.

    GOD DAMMIT, anger is HOLY. Just as every other godde-blessed emotion that runs through our precious animal body is. FEEL IT. It is information!

    So THERE.

  7. PS -- Those 400? I'm really angry at them too.

  8. Anger, rage and a slew of other emotions deemed "negative" are perfectly natural, and we should embrace them, like we do all other aspects of life

  9. and yes, in this unequal, unjust & destructive current society there are countless valid reasons for being angry.

  10. I firmly believe anger is good and valuable and yes, holy, very holy. Whether it comes from nature or nurture, to my mind, is not so much the question as how do we nurture anger. Yes, nurture. Not repress in seething silence but find the light and sun and water that it needs to flourish, so it can give forth it's life-giving fruit.

    Anger isn't even dark, to my mind. The shame about it is, but that's not anger's fault.

    The opposite of anger isn't love, it's indifference. And this is the most transformative thing i learned once about anger, which completely changed the way I experienced my own and other's anger--

    Anger is an effort to repair a relationship.

    It is. Even when it can mean the breaking of a relationship with another person. Even in those cases. In those cases it's our relationship with ourselves that must be repaired. And the relationship with the possibility of what relationship itself can and ought to mean.

    Your anger at the evil in our world is a sign of love for the world. A sign of sacred connection to the world. If you didn't care you'd feel indifference, not acceptance (which are not the same thing.) I even suspect your feeling of being a tourist in the world comes not from your anger but from your efforts to supress your anger.

    I welcome your anger. I celebrate your anger as a sister. She is life, and I'm glad to see her. if you are uncomfortable with her, and end up either depressed or making violent outbursts, when she is around, maybe it's just the awkwardness of a somewhat-estranged relationship with anger itself. I suspect you need to get more familiar with her, more comfortable with her, not less. Repairing a different relationship. And as that relationship strengthens and heals, you will find a larger repertoire of authentic and usefully transformative ways to make use of anger.

    There's a lot wrong with our world today. We need every drop of anger we have, because the real enemy here isn't even those 400, it's the whole society's complacence. Please let your anger out. Ride out the awkwardness and fear of reconciling with her, getting to know her again, learning how to work with her. Please. Anger is one of our strongest allies, and one of the most sensitive barometers of health and illness.

    We need every drop of anger we have.

    Unfurl your anger. Learn how to be comfortable with her again, so you can learn to trust her, and she can learn to trust you, and your partnership together can find the life-giving sacred ways to repair the relationships that are so needing to be healed in this world.

    Please. Because we need your anger, and we need you angry, the world needs every one of us willing to engage in this sacred work.

  11. I'm overwhelmed with the response to this post. Karen, you're right, I don't know her at all because somewhere in me I don't believe she has a legitimate place. In fact, I suspect I blame her for making me unlovable (yes, I know). I'm trying to look her in the eye, but I can hardly acknowledge her face. I am afraid of her as I was afraid of my own mother's anger. Learning to love her is a life work.

  12. oh wow, you make my heart explode with recognition, love, legitimacy. this is brave, beautiful, powerful. thank you.

  13. YES! YES! YES!
    This. Is. So. True.
    ... and honest. And... angry.
    I just don't know how to respond -- we truly need to share some wine and a few hours one day.

  14. Anger is liberating, motivating, and life changing. We should embrace it and channel it for good. Complacency is a disease in our country and we will bear the burdens of it. But anger is our way out. It can deliver us from evil. Great post! Thank you for sharing.

  15. MrsW you are so wise. I applaud your courage in sharing. I am feeling so blessed because your writing is bringing forth what I need to bring into the light - hell, just getting it past my esophagus would be nice- and FINALLY face. I am going to keep trying & hoping. thank you for writing. love jo

  16. I strongly encourage everyone to follow up this reading with Melanie's http://melaniestinson.blogspot.com/2011/04/anger-tool.html

  17. Karen said what I'd have said, only she said it better. I wanted to be here, to affirm your courage and to underline Karen's line:
    "Your anger at the evil in our world is a sign of love for the world. A sign of sacred connection to the world. If you didn't care you'd feel indifference, not acceptance (which are not the same thing.) I even suspect your feeling of being a tourist in the world comes not from your anger but from your efforts to supress your anger."
    Yes. What she said. Powerful and provocative post. Great discussion. Thank you.

  18. Thanks for writing this dear. Anger can be such a powerful force if it is rightly channeled. Yet it's an energy we aren't trained to use.

    Am a student in 'the ways of Anger' to. It will probably take me a lifelong of trial and error but the few times I have managed to tap into its power have been tremendous!! It's not negative or positive, just extremely powerful. And so needed to make a change in this day and age.

    Hope to read more posts like this in the future. ;)

    Stay on the edge, it suits you well!!

    Bahieh K.


  19. I honour the courage it took to write this - i have a weird relationship with anger - we just weren't allowed it in my house... i have an angry husband and an angrier daughter and in my struggles with early motherhood i met my anger head on.... i hear these wise souls say she is sacred but she scares the shit out of me....

  20. Amy, thank you for posting here and for all you give every day.

  21. Bahieh, I'll stay on the edge as long as I have a sense that I'm not toppling over. It helps having others here too.

  22. Faerian, I know exactly what you mean. There's a line in the story I'm writing that I take from just that feeling "if anyone knows what it's like to be afraid of what's inside you, it's me." I've seen it more since I have my son to reflect - it's kind of like wrangling a wild stallion. Not every horse has that spirit, and we do, so we must be both stallion spirit and strong discipline for ourselves. Trust - that's the key to the long-term stability of the relationship. It requires being kind and honouring the spirit of what's there. Even when we've been taught it's bad, rotten, to be excised or at very least, blanketed over. Oh dear, I've written another post.

  23. If I were to let go of my anger i would be giving permission to the rude & offensive things people do. It is probably what allowed me to become empathic & compassionate because it was the fuel that spurred me to speak up in the face of ignorance.
    This is an absolutely raw & honest piece that deserves to be passed on to others over and over again.
    Thanks for your courage & for bringing it to my attention, darling. xoxo

  24. Years ago I was told that anger was the flipside of helplessness. That was such an empowering idea to me, because then I could identify what I was feeling helpless about. I still work on anger, because I agree with you. It's not something people want to talk about because other people are afraid of the anger you carry.

  25. thank you for the stallion comment - my daughter is a horselovingsoul and this really resonated with me.... need to be a bloody horsewhisperer now!

  26. Well done! Anger is a signal that one's boundaries have been violated or are not in place. How one expresses anger has to do with power relative to the offender (which can change and the expression of anger will change along with that power differential).
    Alice Miller writes at length about false/premature forgiveness and Karla McLaren writes most clearly about the function of anger and how to work with it.
    When one's anger is dismissed/dissociated/denied/repressed/spiritualized/eroticized/patronized or it is in any way unsafe for overt expression (either currently or from past conditioning) that anger will express itself covertly and the effects will be as damaging as a full-out rage. We are able to feel angry because anger has an important message for us: our boundaries are in danger.
    Thank you for standing up for anger. Who is to say that anger is not as sacred as joy?

  27. My special @girlzoo, thank you for meeting me here.

  28. Terre, thank you so much. I have much more work to do on this topic. It seems like one that needs more attention in me, and for others to see as well. Thank you for the encouraging words!

  29. Well, I would say that anger needs more latitude and attention from most women and needs a de-emphasis in most men.
    My first husband looked at me flatly and said that he did not have emotions. I asked him about his rage fits. "Oh, being mad for a reason doesn't count" he said with utter conviction. Um, we divorced shortly after that.
    Yes, please keep writing about the legitimacy of all feelings. Maybe we can get a voice in between the religious dogmatists that preach premature forgiveness without ever having the genuine feelings of anger before forgiveness and the New Agers who claim that thoughts control one's feelings (that is expressly the reverse of how our brains work—our feelings occur in the limbic brain and we wrap explanatory thoughts around the feelings in the frontal cortex).
    It seems that as a culture we work very hard from both ends of the belief continuum to diminish the anger (and fear, sadness, grief and shame) of our culture. Of course, it is seeping out everywhere and we identify it as other things rather than our own disowned genuine emotions. Sad. Sad. Sad.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.