Anger and Rage get such a bad rap these days.
I remember when Alanis Morissette's “You Oughtta Know” came out, and people were all like, “Whoa! That is one angry bitch!“ It bugged the shitouttame when people said that. Is she not allowed to be super pissed that her man moved on so quickly after having once promised to be there for her forever? Is it not okay to be just a little pissed OFF about that? Jeez.. Three minutes of rage set to a hauntingly catchy, perfectly crafted pop tune, and to this day, Alanis is referred to as “The Angry Chick”
But this is not about the goddess behind the 90's most perfect anthem. It’s about Rage and Anger, and what a bad words those have become.
Even more specifically, it is about how uncomfortable people are when women express anger. No one is walking around saying, “Wow! Those gentlemen in Metallica have such a chip on their shoulder.”
Anger’s okay, y’all! It’s how we are made. It’s an organic reaction that HAPPENS on our insides.
Something pisses you off? Anger! Feel the sting of injustice? Anger! Been betrayed? Anger!
Of course, no one wants to be angry all the time. Anger is like guns, like water, like the internet: Anger just IS. It is neither good, nor bad. It is how we use it that matters. And as grown ups, it is important to take responsibility for our actions when we are in our anger. We must be careful not to strike out at others, either verbally or physically, when we are in the throes of rage.
Anger can be such a great thing! It can reveal a need to change our course in life: to re-navigate around unhealthy places. It can reveal to us surprising new wounds we didn't even know we had. It can remind ourselves about those cracks in our armour that still need healing. We can use it to map out new terrains of friendship and love. It can motivate us into action that should have been taken long ago. And sometimes, it just gets us through what's in front of us...
But none of this can happen if we don’t let ourselves FEEL the anger. And my fear is that these days, anger and rage are becoming socially gauche: unacceptable landing pads for anyone walking a spiritual path. Angry woman have become so demonized that we now feel ashamed of ourselves for being so weak as to fall prey to such base, ugly feelings. We whisk them away before we learn what lesson they hold for us in their pockets. We destroy all evidence of the “angry bitch”
A few posts ago, I shared a duel I had with rage after having been betrayed in a relationship. Most of us “human-types” have our sensitive areas on the linings around our hearts, and no two people are the same. For me, the two most tender spots are loyalty and honesty. When those soft spots were ripped open by my most trusted ally…I got angry. I raged. I shared this experience in a column here on ChicagoNow, and while many held my hand on the page (thank you!), there were those who admonished me for feeling the way I did. My pain was secondary to their perception: that I needed to “get over it.” To them, I was wrong to be so angry. It made them uncomfortable.
I don’t believe this is a healthy reaction. Anger and rage don’t “go away.” They fester. They lodge themselves in our muscle memory and atrophy into a jerky form of PTSD, then reappear down the line when they are once again kicked awake. They camp out in the lining of our chest, invisible, leering, crusting up a tiny bit more with every beat of the heart. Anger and rage lie low in the foxholes of one’s immune system, feeding off scraps of your peace of mind, tearing little bits of meat out from your stomach: comfort food. If you turn a blind eye to them in the name of etiquette, they will think nothing of eating you from the inside out. They will nibble on your heart, which will then slowly close to protect itself…
So here’s what I say: Invite your rage and your anger into your home for a tea party!
Let them in. Set them up with your finest china in the treehouse of your soul. Brew the good stuff. Serve pastries with little pats of butter on the side, pats just soft enough to spread with a tiny knife.
Then BE with those two emotions. Acknowledge them. Listen to what they have to say. Let them prattle. Remember, they are just guests. We don’t love every houseguest we entertain, but we always treat them with respect. They did come to see us, after all.
Offer them seconds. Don’t argue. Just listen.
If they are really loud and overwhelming, invite a friend over to join you in your listening. Fear and rage don’t care who hears what they have to say. They just want an audience.
And eventually they will run out of steam.
And once that happens, if they feel heard...if they feel validated…they are a lot more apt to leave.
And then they will be gone. They won't be hiding in the cupboard. They won't be tapping at the window.
Okay…now I’m wondering if I sound too angry about this. No, for real. *sigh
Thanks for reading, and carry on...
Old Single Mom
You guys, come see me on Facebook. I live there.
And/Or: Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time. (What? You like pizza? I LIKE PIZZA!!!)