Taking a risk 2 – anger

I take a risk when I write about anger.

Indeed even thinking about anger feels profoundly dangerous. And yet it’s there, like a fire deep down, blazing, licking around the corners of my mind. Ready to lash out in my defence like a terrible angel.

I am afraid of my anger. Of the power of it, the lash of it. The strength of it. What it might do if I ever let it free. I see myself in a nimbus of flame, like a demoness. Powerful, beautiful and terrible. Destroying those who have hurt me.

An elemental force that I keep on a tight leash. And yet I know it is there. And I don’t keep it quite as caged as I used to. A long time ago I would have denied that there was anger in me at all. I had been taught not to let it out, as a child, as a young woman. As a Buddhist I was told not even to give it mind space.

It is a fire.

It is destructive, but it gives warmth and life. It feels like it will hurt me – but perhaps that is because I have kept it caged, anger turning in against myself and hurting myself because I am afraid of what harm it will do if I let it out.

Self help books say that letting out anger is helpful. Psychology says that often the opposite is true. How do I tell?

I only know that sometimes the voice that speaks from the fire tells me what I need to know. It tells me when I must take action to protect myself. It is no less true than the voice of water that tells me that I should not harm those around me, but often I let the water drown the flames. Except that the flames still smoulder.

I think of seeing my ex again and the murmur of the flames builds to a roar. I can feel the power of the wish to lash out, to hurt, to make him feel the wounds that I felt at his hands.

I know it would solve nothing, but I want to be in a space where I don’t care about solving things.

I know it would be unfair, but I want to be in a space where I don’t worry about fairness.

A space where I don’t care about anything but myself and the need to express the feeling of rage that blazes when I think of how he hurt me. I want to be irresponsible. To run amok.

I am less myself if I deny or ignore that voice. I am also vulnerable. But if I let it out, I fear that there will be no end to it, that my rage will consume the good person that I want to believe that I am. That there will be no compassion, no kindness, no respect left in me. Just flame.

I don’t like that view of myself. I don’t want to hurt others. And yet the fire has a siren call to me. How can I resist its power without, in doing so, resisting part of myself? I’d be a fool to ignore it entirely. But I’d be just as stupid to let it control me.

So we live in an uneasy truce. A gentle soul with a flame blazing within. No, smouldering. Embers ready to leap into life if I need the energy of the flame to protect me. One day I will call it.

I want to learn to make it a precise tool, like an acetylene torch that cuts precisely and cleanly, destroying only to create, melting to make solid, dividing to make whole in a better form. Not a wildfire. And yet the flame of anger will always want to be wilder.

Will I ever dare to take the risk of setting it free?

This is another 15minute writing practice on the theme “Taking a risk” from Red Ravine. The first one I did was here – but I felt I wanted to write about a topic that actually felt risky to me, rather than about the idea of taking a risk. And this was the result.

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6 responses to “Taking a risk 2 – anger

  1. “I want to make it a precise tool…” What a great way to put it… That paragraph and the one above it are words I will remember.

  2. Very powerful piece, lirone.

    Anger is an incredibly scary emotion. I have it, too, inherited by fiery Latina women, especially my grandmother. She used to wield knives and brooms and insults against her cowboy husband.

    It’s taken me so long to be able to live with my rage. In fact, it doesn’t come out that often any more. But when it does, it’s horrid.

    Your descriptions of the fire and smouldering and other imagery — that so nailed what it’s like to be captive to anger.

  3. The strange thing for me is that my anger never comes out – I don’t think I’ve ever yelled at anyone in my life (doesn’t mean I’m not sometimes grouchy or sarcastic, but that’s a bit different.)

    So I’ve very little experience of anger, but I know that doesn’t mean it’s not there, and in recent months I have been aware of it bubbling away below the surface.

    I think not letting it out is what makes it feel so risky for me. I don’t have experience of it being possible for me and those around me to survive my anger or deal with its consequences!

  4. I, unfortunately, grew up with an intensely angry father, so it’s something I struggle with all the time. The daily writing exercises are a HUGE funnel for me to release my anger. I like the idea of having a way to release it without hurting anyone else. My meditating helps a great deal, not to reject the anger, but to identify the source of it and deal with THAT instead. Also, the meditating helps things in general not be a big deal. I find that I’m much much nicer to my husband since I started meditating regularly. I still have my setbacks, however, but they’re pretty rare.

  5. Thanks for your thoughtful comment Jane. The meditations I did often seemed to encourage suppressing anger which wasn’t at all helpful – identifying the source and taking action that doesn’t hurt others is very important, and it’s great that your writing and meditating helps you there.

  6. There is a way to turn anger into pure energy, which you can then use for more positive and creative purposes than just to lash out and destroy. In my ‘meditating’ circle we learn to do just that (and with all other emotions too, not just anger, even ‘positive’ ones like joy). It’s not particularly complicated to do in terms of actual technique, but it takes dedicated practise in order to master it. I’m not there yet, but it is delightfully encouraging to think that there IS a way and that you don’t need to be Buddha or superman to manage it!

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