I don’t know about you, but I hate getting mad.
Four years ago I lost my daughter to a sudden cardiac arrest. Along with my grief rode a sidecar of toxic, bitter anger. I found myself becoming furious at small, irrational things. Again and again I felt caught in the quick of these dark failings.
But … was my anger really a dark failing? Or was it actually alright?
Yes, it was. Turns out my anger was the sign of something stirring in the dark, narrow passageways of my grief. It was the ghost just down the way, beckoning for me to come hither.
Even Elizabeth Kubler-Ross said I was supposed to get mad.
Still, I hung back fearfully at first. I found myself twisting my anger into silent, furious knots instead. Finally I could avoid it no longer. That’s when I found out it was not only okay to get mad … it was necessary.
Just like a cool breeze on a hot day, when I finally allowed myself to feel my anger, it refreshed and restored me. It literally healed me, and became just as critical to my well-being as clean water, rest and the great outdoors. So I moved on in far greater peace once I began to own ALL of my feelings — even the less attractive ones.
If you were like me, you were raised to believe that anger is bad and that good girls don’t get mad. And certainly not at their controlling addict mothers. In my family or origin, I could never get mad at Mother under penalty of serious punishment. So I pretended ‘mad’ didn’t exist, stuck my fingers in my ears and avoided such things for the next 50 years.
This is how we grow up: numb and afraid to own or even know our anger – until it comes exploding out of us in untoward ways.
Of course, one must handle the sword of anger responsibly. But this can be learned. It simply takes practice. First you have to take some time by yourself to just breathe. And feel. Organically, your anger will rise up and then pass through you. Only then are you ready to see the truth of the matter, and possibly have a conversation about what’s bugging you.
So I’ve come to trust my anger.
Now I realize that it can be a balm to the soul. It is the release of the pressure valve, and the surrender of the false veil that has us parked in ‘Everything’s fine!’ all the time. So yes … it feels good to get mad sometimes.
When I’ve allowed it, my anger has told me again and again when things were out of balance – when I was off kilter. When danger lurked. All those years ago, when Mom was raising hell while I was trying to do my homework or possibly sleep, my anger was nothing more than warning flashers that my space was being invaded.
So I now regard my anger as a well calibrated internal warning system that tells me where to set boundaries, avoid danger and generally protect myself. In fact, it’s become a critical information source.
May you learn to enjoy your anger when it bubbles up … and honor it for the innate and powerful wisdom that it is.
As they say in the liquor ads, ‘Enjoy responsibly.’