What is your relationship with anger?
My life has been characterised by it, except that until this year, I didn't realise it was an emotion I even *had*. But in reality, it was so pervasive that I didn't know how to parse it from other emotion - I was, and still am, swimming in it. A lot of the emotions that I experience have been defined by an undercurrent of this suppressed existential rage. It created a block preventing me from experiencing the fullness, the *actuality* of my emotions in the present, because there was always an ungrieved, unprocessed sense of injustice, a sense that I had been made to feel like i did not DESERVE to feel angry.
My rage was shoved down by a desire and belief that I needed to be "good". People saw me as being peaceful and nice, and that was my gateway to "acceptance", to being liked. This was vital especially as an adolescent in a new country where everyone already had friends and I was an unwelcome insertion to their fixed social landscape. My mere existence challenged theirs, so being myself didn't seem like an option - any assertion of my true self would prove offensive and cause more isolation, more loneliness, more ostracisation.
So I played along and pretended to be at peace when inside I was exploding.
Eventually it exploded externally too, as panic attacks and bodily sickness. In the mirror I would see a woman deeply frustrated, raging at the injustices and sufferings of humanity.
Yet I couldn't actually feel that anger
Anger carries an enormous power. This is why it scares us, because our society doesn't teach how to use it well. We conflate anger with aggression and violence. It's seen as being dangerous, as taboo. This is because, all too often, it is only expressed once it has developed from anger into rage; rage is more difficult to control. It is an eruption rather than a reaction. It's safer not to feel it than to engage in uncontrolled conflict, so we pretend not to feel angry at all. We deaden our capacity to express that emotion.
Yet it is felt by all on some subconscious level. After all, there is plenty to be angry about right now. The racist patriarchal system keeping us (all, including white men) "good" and obedient. The plethora of nonsensical rules and regulations that make us feel trapped, the red tape and barbed wire that make us feel like machines. Frustration at our inability to express our full selves, to live as fully as we truly wish to, severed from our wild birthright in order to conform to the standards of a system we did not choose. The injustice of it all - why do some suffer so much more than others? When will the suffering *end*? Why do we seem to be so powerless in the face of it all?
The danger of this sort of rage is when it stays in the subconscious: It can be weaponised, so that we are in battle against one another. Rules that play on our sense of social and moral obligations, that encourage us to judge on another and engage in passive aggressive remarks and behaviours. This is the mark of a society that has demonized anger to the point of refusing to acknowledge its existence within ourselves, while it rages as unhealthy explosions.
And then, even when recognised for what it is, termed as righteous anger, we lack the guidance and tools to know what on earth to do with it. It is easy to turn this anger into blame and criticism of certain individuals. Raging against 'the system' isn't as satisfying as laying the blame on individuals who perhaps encapsulate aspects of the system that we find particularly demonic. But regardless of the apparent object of our anger - what purpose does it serve? Stewing in our rage, seething and blaming individuals (whether in real life or on the internet) doesn't tend to get us anywhere. We still see anger as something to use as a weapon, as something to "fight" with. So then we pick battles, wage wars, under the conviction that because our rage is righteous, we deserve to 'win', and we as victors will prevail. However as we know from history, war only begets more war. The victors rarely, if ever, find and execute the 'solution'. It only encourages the perpetuation of a cycle rooted in unprocessed, misexpressed suffering.
Anger doesn't have to create battle. Just because we feel angry, it doesn't mean we have to fight. Processed well, it can create miracles; it can be a channel to clarity. Acala, 不動明王, is a helpful conduit to meditating upon anger, sword slicing through illusion to help us see what is truly binding us.
For me, I can find a clarity about the actuality of my anger through dance. Anger ALWAYS goes beyond a certain individual or interaction : because every interaction holds the patterning of the system that creates and perpetuates injustice. But then I also recognise that the system was created by individuals at some point. Individuals, suffering, too. Individuals wanting to reconnect to their wild birthright.
contract - e x p a n d - contract
Through dance, i find clarity, and through clarity, i find the commonality in my suffering and the suffering of others, even and especially the oppressors.
This is actual peace.
I pray that we as humanity will find a way, individually and collectively, to alchemise and express our anger, creating the platform on which we can build a society of true harmony.