Finding the Purpose of Anger

It’s a new day friends and if you’re like me you have an emotional hangover from what some call a presidential debate. I personally like to call it the ‘old white man say/yell things show’™ and you are welcome to use that if you’d like. I had so many emotions just from that hour and a half that I could probably write several blog posts on this viewing alone, but I’ll try to make it brief.

The biggest emotion I felt last night was anger. Anger, for those who have not been following this blog for a long time, is one of the most difficult emotions for me to process, accept, and display. I avoid it all costs and it typically results in me crying (which I did last night) and wanting to run away, trying to do whatever I can to make it stop. So, as someone who is constantly trying to improve and be better, I made it a point to stay; stay in my anger and feel the ways in which this anger is helping me. I was angry for a lot of reasons, and I am not going to sit here and try to explain why it hurts to hear people debate human lives or attack someone who overcame a drug addiction. What I will discuss is how such anger is helping me grow.

Last nights anger was felt in the pit of my stomach. My therapist has taught me to visualize where I feel my emotions so that I can really sit with it and work through it. It been a real game changer with the emotions I find more difficult. In my stomach there was a burning sensation and when I closed my eyes I could see yellows, reds, and oranges- there was a fire burning. My first instinct was to put the fire out, which I attempted to do with ice cream (Ben and Jerry’s half baked, obviously). That sort of worked as a short term solution, but as soon as I stopped the fire grew again. I thought to myself ‘how do I make I stop’ and then I realized I was asking the wrong question. I didn’t need it to stop I needed to listen to it and that is what I did.

I sat in my room after getting ready for bed and reflected for a minute on the heat. I unpacked some of the emotional abuse that occurred on the stage as it brought up memories of my own experiences. I validated the feelings of anger as right and fair, instead of a burden that needed to go away. I put my hand on my stomach and thought about the anger others must be feeling in this moment and what pain people who were literal topics of debate might be feeling. I thought about the kids that were and/or are bullied and how it would feel to watch that debate with the harsh words used. I thought of all of these people as my clients that have and will sit with. Then, with each thought and validation the anger dwindled, not to be mistaken with the anger going away.

Feelings don’t disappear until the job they were created to do is done. There is a good reason for that- we need them to create change. For example, if I got sad and never dealt with the sadness and pretended not be sad, that doesn’t mean that sadness is gone, it just means it’s hanging out somewhere else. Typically, this is a place where we tried to lock it up in, but instead it comes out in anxiety, alcohol use, cutting, unexplained anger, etc.. However, if we keep it where it’s supposed to be and we work with it and do what needs to be done, we get a healthy goodbye. Like when I was really depressed and went to therapy and started medication and sat with my sadness for a long time, not letting it go until I was ready. I want a healthy goodbye like that with this anger, so I am keeping the embers burning to help me remember why it is I do what I do.

What I do as a social worker, involves advocating for people and I care about people a lot. I’m a cancer moon, ya know? Advocacy work is political in nature and this fire is a direct result of who and what I care about. These embers will burn until I see people are given justice, fairness, kindness, and the right to live regardless of health, the color of their skin, their differing abilities, their gender, their sexual orientation, and the list could go on. I’m not sure the embers will ever truly go away, but I am going to keep them with me as a reminder that there is work to do, nitty gritty hard work.

I am currently in a space to do the hard work. I have gone to therapy and processed a lot of my own trauma’s and experiences. I feel safe to do this work right now and that could change. If you are not in that place, please know it is okay to lock those feelings up if that is what feels best for you right now. I am not here to tell you how to process your own reactions/feelings. Do whatever you need to do to make yourself feel safe. Perhaps it’s holding space for it and perhaps it’s watching 6 hours of Real Housewives of New York. I’ve been both people (sometimes in the same day) and that’s okay.

If you’re reading this and angered (or any other emotions) by any of the words I have said here, perhaps reflect on where in your body you’re feeling it and why these emotions are coming up for you. And please, please, please use the contact link to chat with me further about this or any other post.

I love you all, including my anger.

A[wo]men

flames dance

across the lining of my stomach

and i pray for rain

that only comes when

the embers are ready for it

-finding the purpose of anger

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