“Love without the safety to allow anger is not love, but fear.” ~David Richo
Looking at my thin frame and wide eyes some find it difficult to believe I’ve been kicked off the bus three times and kicked out of several public places for aggressive outbursts. Anger is a new emotion to me, it makes me so uncomfortable I have spent most of my life suppressing or avoiding it. I want to be perceived as nice and nice girls don’t do angry. (For fellow astro-geeks, I have a moon in Aries conjunct Venus at my midheaven.)
The thing is that you can’t see my anger right away…not my type at least. Mine is a sacred rage, a righteous anger of injustice. It hides quietly and then erupts suddenly flooding me with fire. I don’t know what do with this much anger, it’s as if my body can’t contain it…I overwhelm and scare myself sometimes.
I worry my angry is unattractive and unfeminine, that it makes me un-dateable, unloveable, and too much for most men. With the Aries new moon tomorrow, bi-yearly Mars Retrograde around the corner on April 17, now seems like a good of time as ever to examine my relationship to anger. I’ve certainly come face-to-face with it a lot lately (mostly thanks to Donald Trump and my cat waking me up more than usual lately in the middle of the night).
In astrology, the planet Mars rules anger, passion, aggression, and action — traditionally more masculine traits. It rules the zodiac sign Aries and like all planets has a multitude of expressions ranging from independence to being self-involved.
For a long time I couldn’t feel the more extreme emotions such as intense anger, my Mars crept up on me as competition with others and loving to find a challenge to conquer. Now I find my anger has a formula. First, I feel the flame started in chest and rising, then comes the anger that I’m angry. Then I judge it and convincing myself I’m overreacting. Finally I become so overwhelmed with my own emotion that I burst into tears. It’s not easy to be angry, it’s uncomfortable, like other emotions, and therefore wanting to be avoided.
The cycles continues and comes and goes, in fact right now I can think of a bazillion things I’m angry about, but here are just a few in this moment:
· Our laissez-faire attitude towards Earth and its non-human animals
· That a racist is running for president of the U.S. (I can’t even type his name it is so gross to me)
· My conflict about wanting to feel beautiful, that women are taught our value is in the way we look so women spend more time looking pretty than caring about politics or anything for that matter
· Mass incarceration of people of color and slave labor
· People who would rather numb out than feel
· That I’m so sensitive it takes me five hours after work to recover from being there for seven hours because our society isn’t set up for people to work and be in tune with themselves
· That the city I love has a widening class divide and tent cities are growing quickly
· That the Kardashians are even famous and don’t do anything to better society
· Feminine values such as intuition and emotionality being undervalued
· That kids in the U.S. are fed shit lunches and take standardized tests
· That Gloria Steinem thinks women follow men in politics and doesn’t understand the next wave of feminism
· The injustices to the native Americans that the U.S. seems so unable to acknowledge
· People who have no concept of unconscious privilege or poverty cycles
· When people tell me I’m overanalyzing things when actually they are just afraid to talk about or look at things that are uncomfortable to them
· Those who aren’t gentle with other peoples’ hearts
Looking at this list I realize my anger is sacred, it tells me clearly that something is wrong. It is my warrior heart alerting me something is worth fighting for. I don’t get angry because someone is 40 minutes late to meet me, I get angry because they complained about traffic from a Black Lives Matter protest. Sorry, social justice is inconvenient for you (though truth be told I don’t have any close friends who would ever say this). I worry about people who don’t get anger, perhaps they numb out and don’t feel it, or perhaps their heart has lost it fire.
While I’m certainly no expert on anger and expressing it (ask my family or any ex-boyfriends), like all emotions it gives us more access to growth. For that reason I have come to love it. What we get angry about tells us volumes about what we value as well as what we dislike in ourselves. It wants us to set a boundary to a perceived threat. Its dramatic/abusive expression covers up other emotions, while anger itself is able to coexist with them. I love the way author and psychologist David Richo distinguishes anger from abuse:
Anger v. Abuse
Expresses a feeling v. Becomes a tantrum
Arises from displeasure at an injustice v. Arises from sense of a bruised ego
Coexists with other feelings v. Occludes other feelings
Believes the other is a catalyst of anger v. Believes other is cause of anger
Authentic self-expression v. Theatrical display
Shows tough love that enriches/repairs relationship v. Explodes in rough endangers relationship
Informs the hearer v. Scares the hearer
Brief then let go with sense of closure v. Held onto and stored as resentment
It’s easy to fear anger and its intensity. Perhaps we experienced its abuse instead of its true expression. Ultimately, we cannot deal with anyone else’s anger until we have dealt with our own. Dealing with anger directly is a true differentiator of adulthood, while suppression creates passive expression meant to punish. Passive aggressive anger is not very adultly (yes, I am using that as an adverb) when it shows up as being late, avoiding, shutting down, rejecting someone, silence, etc.
“Strongly expressed anger is rage, strongly held anger is hate.”~David Richo
In other cases anger collapses in on us and becomes depression. I don’t think the importance of understanding anger can be understated. Issues such as racism and misogyny are hate as they have become strongly held anger towards others. I used to think my anger prevented love, but it was only my expression of it. My strong, sacred rage comes quickly and leaves quickly when I actually allow myself to feel it.
Often times we don’t express anger for fear of rocking the boat, but being conflict avoidant is incredibly detrimental. Expressing emotions, especially the difficult or uncomfortable ones, creates connection and allows another to be a part of an internal process and cultivating intimacy. When we hide how we feel there is an impact, even if it doesn’t show up right away.
While I’m certainly still learning how to express anger in healthy way, I can feel how much better my life is when I’m able to do so. And perhaps next time my sacred rage comes up I can express it in a healthy way…and won’t get kicked off the bus.