The raging fires of anger

10 min read

Doing The Artist’s Way is a process you will not love all the time. That’s a given. Writing your morning pages every morning will bring up shit you had not anticipated, or better you have not been able or willing to face for a long time. That is upsetting, to say the least.

Week 3 is all about Recovering Your Sense of Power, and straight ahead it addresses the issue of anger. For me the anger had already started and just reading that there would be more anger to come made me even more angry. Just what I was hoping for. Yay!

This anger is like a purgatory. It will burn away all the blame, resentment and bitterness you have been holding onto all these years without even knowing. Or at least, that’s what it did for me. All the anger may be a bit of a stretch, but the worst of it for sure.

I went deep. As I always do. Because that’s who I am. I go all in, head first. And so, if you’ve been following my morning pages on Instagram Stories, you may be a bit hesitant to give this process a go. I can understand, but read on, because this is my story, not yours, and there are treasures to be found for all of us.

I share my story, because I believe that in the particulars one can find the universal. Each story is unique. Me sharing my particular story, my healing process, allows you to recognize certain universal patterns in your own life, and heal those. I’ve seen this over and over again. 

I’ve gone this deep only two to three times before. And for you to understand this blog, you need context. Let’s recap quickly for those who are new here, so the rest of this story will make sense. If you already know my story, you can jump right over the cursive print.

I was born two weeks prematurely. After birth, I was taken to the baby ward and put in an incubator immediately, where I got functional care only. I was a healthy baby, I wasn’t ill or anything. My parents were allowed to view me from behind a window. They were not allowed to hug or touch me. After almost 7 weeks, they couldn’t take it anymore and forced the doctor to release me. They had no clue why I wasn’t released earlier, or why the doctor was still resistant.

This is my Trauma. Capital T. I wasn’t aware it was even something to consider, it was just a fact, until my life came to a screeching halt, a bit more than 10 years ago, when I got ME/CFS and wasn’t able to do the most mundane things, because I simply had no energy. Every morning I woke up tired. I spent my days in bed. Some days, even too tired to brush my teeth..

At the age of 7, after a move from one side of the country to the other, this emotional trauma of being all alone, of being abandoned, got activated. I felt so alone, I was unable to connect with the kids at my new school. It was as if I was standing behind a glass wall. The kids started shutting me out. I became an outsider. Or at least that was what I experienced. Later I got bullied and beat up by different kids. But the thing that got to me the most was being bullied by my best friend, off and on. I adapted by being the best friend I possibly could be. To no avail.

In my mid-twenties, having grown increasingly unhappy from the moment we moved, I gave myself permission to consider suicide as a real option. I felt free for the first time in twenty years. It felt so good, until I realized that I could not go through with it, because I would rather be unhappy for the rest of my life than scar for life my sweet sister of ten years younger. Eventually, at the end of a long month, I realized that I wasn’t going to die soon, yet that I could not go back to who I had been before. To me, the only logical thing at that moment was to become as happy as humanly possible.

I was born into a conservative christian family. In my late twenties, after a counselor had asked me what I believed to be true (I, not my parents, not my friends, not the pastor of my church, but I), I realized that I knew nothing for sure, and I lost my religion in one clean swoop. It was one of the hardest things I did, because it caused my parents immense sadness. But, if I did not want to lose my mind, it was the only choice I had.

I very consciously did not fall into the trap of converting to another religion, not even atheism. I decided that I would be open to all possibilities and allow myself to discover what resonated with me most. This loving presence that I had always known as God somehow stuck with me. The thing that resonated most with me is the idea that everything is a (physical) manifestation of Conscious Life Force, that I am One with All, that we are all co-creating life with this Conscious Life Force. This basically means that I everything I encounter is part of me, and as such my responsibility, but also that everything I am is part of the whole, which makes me responsible for how the whole is doing.

As I said before, this is my story. With my specifics, my particulars. Your story can be completely different. Your world view can be completely different. And yet, you can get a lot out of reading this story. 

Looking back, I’ve been angry for a long time, without realizing it. Not just angry, but pissed, at the unfairness of it all. More precisely, the unfairness of my not too ideal start in life and how that has influenced every part of my life. How I am still dealing with trauma that occurred in the first weeks of my life and every trauma that got stacked on top of it. Meshed. Interwoven. The complexity of it all. And how I’ve been actively processing this complex mess for over the past two decades. How I, most likely, will always be uncovering new layers, processing new intricacies.

This anger had nothing to do with the superficialities of my story. I’ve come to a place where I feel nothing but benign indifference towards the actors in this play. The hospital and the medical staff, even gratitude for keeping me alive, for washing and feeding me. The kids that bullied and beat me. My best friend who thought that throwing half-dry dog turds at me would be a fun activity. The church that completely messed up my sense of inherent goodness. And I feel nothing but deep love for my parents. My overpowering late dad and my always-bowing-to-my-dad’s-needs mother. Good and loving parents, but not the parents my smaller self needed to regain a sense of emotional security.

This time, my anger went much deeper. This anger was directed at the God of my childhood. At God, any god. This Conscious Life Force that energizes everything. My soul. Me. I experienced another bout of Abandonment, and Shame. And then I experienced the all-consuming pain of Betrayal.

Almost 50 years of living with complex trauma. How could I believe in a ‘god’, a Force, a Soul who not only allowed this to happen, but who created it? Why believe in a ‘god’ who allows suffering. Who allowed me to suffer? Who made me suffer? I was choking with anger. I had never been so angry in my life.

How could this Conscious Life Force, this Loving Omni-presence, have abandoned this innocent, and helpless baby girl? I could not process it. How could I ever trust again? And then it slowly sank in. If I am co-creating this Life, if I am One with All, then I had betrayed my baby self too. How could I have betrayed this precious girl in such a way? How could I have co-created such a mess? How could I have set myself up for almost 50 years of hardship? How could I trust myself again?

It would have been so easy to not go down this road, to instead let go of my beliefs and believe in the complete randomness of things. It probably would not have added up at a certain point, but for now it would have been so much easier. I chose not to.

I chose to sit with it. I chose to sit with the overwhelming sense of Abandonment, Shame and Betrayal, and allowed myself to feel it completely. All of it. All of my resistance to it, all of my sadness, all of my despair, all of my powerlessness, all of my anger. I chose to feel it all, as best as I could. Until it subsided. Until it was gone. Until I felt a resistance-free numbness. I chose to sit with it some more. Until I felt a growing peace and acceptance. Until I started feeling Joy and Appreciation again.

How this story will end? I don’t know. But for the first time in my life, the uncertainty of the future doesn’t scare me as much as it used to do. What I do know is that this massive release will be a turning point in my life, as all the massive releases before this have been. There will be very subtle and not so subtle changes in the way I will see the world and how I will behave. And it will feel more easy and natural than ever before. I will come to the point where I will not be able to remember the pain, and there will be nothing but a benign indifference when I tell the story of the past 49 years. 

Despite of what it may look like on the surface, this story is not about me or my beliefs. It is about what happens when we dare to face the fullness of our emotions, the depth of these universal core wounds. Because until we do, we will not be free. Until we experience the depth of our pain, we will always be ruled by it, in some way or another. And don’t worry, it is my experience you will only process what you are ready to process at any time. Unless you are as ready as I was, you will not go as deep as I went.

You too have anger within you. You may not be aware of it. But you do. Because you are human. Get in touch with it, release it. It doesn’t matter whether you write morning pages, hate letters (you will not send) or punch in a pillow or chop wood. It doesn’t matter at what level you process the anger that is building up inside of you, process it. Because allowing yourself to feel the fullness of it, will allow you to forgive yourself for all the things you’ve been holding against yourself, rightfully or not, consciously or not. It will allow you to not only accept yourself, but to love yourself. Fully. Deeply.

Anger is a great transformative tool, it is a purifying fire. Use it. Treasure it. For most of us, anger feels scary, because we have learned at an early age that we weren’t allowed to become angry. I get that. Completely. But it is time that you rebel. It is time that you allow yourself to feel all the anger you’ve been denied. This is where your authentic power is stored. Get angry, your freedom and your happiness depend on it. 

If you’ve done the Artist Way, I would love for you to share your experience with us in the comments. Did it work for you? What did it do for you? Is there something you would have loved to know before you started or at the beginning of you journey?

If you haven’t done it, but are curious or want to know more, feel free to ask a question. And I will dig in, or maybe someone else has the perfect answer they are willing to share.

And of course you are always very welcome to share what my story did with or for you. Be it here, or via any other way. I do love to hear from you.

If this resonated with you, then consider sharing it with someone who will love it too or could use it in their lives right now. And while you’re in the flow, you may want to subscribe to my newsletter as well. I’ll send you an email from time to time to keep you in the loop. Don’t worry, I won’t spam you. Scout’s honor.

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image by pixundfertig

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