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.