Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Let Go of Your Anger"

     I have been told this so many times in so many ways.  First growing up in an extremely strict religious and abusive home, the rule was 'don't you dare get angry.  don't show anger.  turn the other cheek.'  In fact, it was so dangerous to show anger at home that I have an alter specifically to contain the anger and not let it out.  One raised voice in our family and everyone turned white, any perceived rebellion was met with such harsh and out of proportion punishment that I usually ended up groveling and mumbling a string of 'sorries' when confronted with any displeasure on the face of anyone I ever met.  Because I was a good obedient child, I was a doormat.  The only problem- for my abusers anyway- is that it was not a fool proof system.  Eventually I cracked.  My angry alter got out.

     Then there's religion.  Forgiveness.  I clung to religion growing up to get me through torture, excruciating pain, loneliness, and neglect.  I do not regret it, I formed a very strong connection to God, the earth, and though I was fragmented, myself.  The institution I have found highly questionable, often mirroring, allowing and encouraging abusive situations, so I left.  As a sexual abuse survivor I hear so often the importance of forgiveness, in fact that's usually the first thing many people will jump on as soon as they hear of any kind of horrid abuse: "You need to forgive that person."  I am strongly adamant that I do not.  Forgiveness is an individual choice, and not at all required for healing.  It was such a relief for me to read in "The Courage to Heal" that it is insulting to suggest to any survivor of abuse that she should forgive her abuser.  I completely agree, and I am in fact offended whenever I hear or read someone telling me or another survivor that they need to forgive.

     I have worked with many alternative medicine practitioners, and although I find them quite knowledgeable of the connection between mind and body, even they back away when confronted with the reality of such a frightening reason for problems between mind and body.  They have no problem telling me that I am full of anger, but instead of getting to the root cause of that or suggesting working through it, they hastily tell me to just 'let go of it', especially as I start to tell them that yes, I am aware of the anger, this is why-.  Nope.  Not listening.  "Just let it go."  If after that the physical problem or anger persists, it is all my fault, because I was too stubborn and unable to "let go of my anger".  God forbid I should actually do something with it.

     Most people I have met, unless they are healing survivors themselves, or supporters of those who are, refuse to look at the horrific realities of abuse in our society and its effects.  They do not want survivors to even acknowledge that it happened, much less admit that a survivor should be entitled to the natural human reaction to such appalling treatment that is anger.  It has taken me a while to learn that my angry alter is not dangerous to me but one of my best champions.  She is a fighter, much like the one depicted above, and she is extremely insightful and always willing to stand up for the truth.  She is not a wannabe man, but very feminine, and very dangerous.  The more I let her out the safer I am, and the brighter I shine.  I don't have to be so afraid of speaking out with her guarding my back.  I don't think she is afraid of anyone, because really, who would cross this chick? 
     Anger is a necessary part of healing.  Everyone who has been hurt is bound to be angry about it.  It is what you do with it that matters.


WidowSpiders said...

Anger is fire. Like anger, the world once relied upon fire for many functions of life. Now it is hidden and disregarded as being primitive and outdated.

For abuse survivors, we stayed alive because of that fire. It kept us warm, unthawing our will to live when the world froze us out. It lit a path in the darkness, illuminating our life with hope for what we may someday over come. It danced on the walls, giving us something beautiful to watch when the world went black.

We must honor the fire. It kept us alive. Even as we heal and evolve, we must keep a small part of it alive and dancing on a candle in memory of what we did to survive. It must never go out, because someday, we may need it again.

annette said...

I think the most important thing is to not be afraid to be angry. Not to be angry all the time, but let it come out when it is appropriate, let it sit in the back until needed. It is a very important emotion, I don't think it gets enough credit these days.

I LOVED this character Etain in Centurion, the way the Pict women were able to express their pain and rage through angry screaming and fighting to defend an assault on what they loved. This character in particular I was intrigued with, because after being raped and seeing her family murdered, the Romans cut out her tongue so she could never again speak against them. (Sounded a bit familiar, brutally assualted and allowed no voice) Yet she grew into the fiercest fighting tool the Picts had, and played a vital role in driving out the Romans. This is all the movie, not history that I know of, but I loved it. And I was rooting for the Picts, obviously:)