dear muse

Advice Column: I Have A Lot To Be Angry About.

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{Rebelle Society’s Weekly Advice Column: Dear Muse}

Dear Muse,

I have a lot to be angry about. A lifetime of abandonment, abuse, trauma, and neglect. I feel like the kind of anger that can be produced from all of this would be transformative. And, heaven knows I need a transformation.

The problem is, I feel like I won’t let myself get angry. I am so used to slapping a smile on my face and trying to keep the peace. It’s almost like, I’ve doused my internal fire. Intuitively, I feel like this same flame is connected to my sense of passion, or lack thereof.

How do I get that back, Dear Muse? How do I stoke that fire? What do I use to fan those flames?

Sincerely,

Frigid Lukewarm

Dear Frigid Lukewarm,

Word, friend. It sounds like you do have a lot to be angry about.

But, underneath that, it sounds like you have a lot to be hurt about.

When we look at our anger, it’s almost never (I would argue never, but I’m not omniscient… like, hardly ever) just anger, or rage.

Something else is in the driver’s seat, and it’s plastered on “anger” as the hood ornament. Because anger seems easier to deal with than… hurt. Disappointment. Grief. Suffering. Anguish. Betrayal.

And it sounds, Frigid, like you may have reason to feel all of those things.

I’m going to tell you a short story about my own anger. Maybe it will help. If not, toss it in the cyber trash and read on.

I can’t remember not feeling sad. I always had an intense fear of being abandoned, being not wanted, not good enough. I was bullied horrendously, pretty much from kindergarten until… college. Friendships were fleeting and riddled with the type of drama that Mean Girls made millions from: friends one minute, pariah the next.

When I was thirteen, my family fell apart in a spectacular fashion: terminal illness, chronic illness, alcoholism, addiction, and eating disorders would rule the next eight years of my family life. Looking back, I can say that my family did their best- they, after all, are humans too.

But they really fucked up.

I left my home, sometimes on my own accord, and others because “it was better when I wasn’t there” several times before I was twenty. My family had prioritized, and I was not one of their top choices.

I was fucking pissed. At all of it. All of them. Still a kid, and I had a dying loved one, an alcoholic, emotionally abusive family member, a raging eating disorder, severe depression, no friends, and a family that didn’t want/need/care to have me as well. And told me so.

I spent many years stewing in my anger. Unlike you, I reveled in it. I had the sharpest, nastiest tongue, the quickest, meanest temper, and I (unknowingly) wanted people to realize how fucking hurt I was.

So I hurt them.

And that’s what it was. Yoga, meditation, tons of counseling, helped me see that underneath this anger- this rage- I was hurt. Grieving. I had been betrayed by the people closest to me, and my heart, my soul, my spirit- they all broke.

So, Frigid, yes- anger is powerful. First, we need to realize and accept that we are angry. It sounds like you are well on your way. Speak with a therapist or someone you can trust. Journal. Write. Let it bubble out of you.

But don’t let it consume you. Anger can be hurtful: for you, and for people in your life. Holding on to these things with rage lets them continue to own you. To paralyze you. Sitting in anger isn’t much different than sitting in this numbness- you’re not transforming anything. You’re holding on.

Can we hijack that? Can we take that powerful emotion and channel it into healing? I can almost guarantee you that you do not want to transform into Angry Person. Angry Person sucks. They are mean and small and sad, and no one wants to invite them to their parties. Can your transformation be into Powerful Person That Owns Their Voice? That refuses to tolerate the conditions of your past, the circumstances that you have determined unbearable, for one more second?

That is power. That is true transformation.

To get here, we need to look at this anger and discover who’s driving: betrayal, fear, shame, et cetera. We need to- with the support of a therapist or a trusted friend- find the truth behind our feelings.

And then we need to sit with them. To find compassion for them. For me, it was like looking at a little girl and saying, “I am so sorry that this happened to you. It really sucked. It’s going to hurt for as long as it needs to, but it is going to heal. You’re not her anymore- you can choose what to do with this pain.”

Anger seeks to control us, to be the leader. It separates us from others and from our true nature by claiming righteousness and demanding justice. Being angry is actually hardest thing to do.

Feeling pain- the reason for the anger- is the bravest fight we will fight.

Holding on to anger, or avoiding pain, brings us further away from being a full, feeling person. From being able to have full, meaningful lives that aren’t controlled by our pasts.

We need to channel the power of our anger, our rage, by discovering the underlying feelings- and changing the direction.

You will change lives with your story and your experiences, Frigid. People will learn from how you took your past and grew from it, instead of letting it keep you small. When you need inspiration for how to stoke your fire, think of all of the “you’s” that exist: are you going to let them suffer? Or are you going to, right now, channel your feelings into something that can save them, and save yourself?

We need you. We need your story. We need your strength. We need you to feel your feelings, and use them to save the world.

Meet your anger with compassion. Let your heart break. Take what pours out and use that to transform, Frigid.

The world, your world, our world, depends on it.

With love,

Kristin Diversi, Assistant Editor-In-Chief

Read more Dear Muse: How Can I Be A Mom, Wife & Me?

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DEARMUSE

Hey Restless Creator, do you sometimes feel like life is lonesome, confusing or downright too much?

Rebelle Society’s weekly advice column, Dear Muse, is a space to send your questions, thoughts, and wonderings about this beautiful dark journey we’re on, no matter how deep, strange, or scary they may seem. In return we’ll offer you radical empathy, mischievous nourishment and creative advice.

Through reaching out and sharing our experiences, we shatter a stunting silence and create a space for growth. And by doing so, we may save ourselves, but we also may save each other.

Imagine, what if the whole world broke free and began to sing?

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