One of the “homework” tasks I’ve been set by my counsellor is to spend some time “getting in touch” with my anger. My anger that I was hit, and made to feel frightened, by the person with whom I should have been utterly safe and at home. My anger that I was forced to betray my family and my friends, and my own integrity, just to buy safety. My anger that I was made to believe that I was worthless, and useless, and stupid, when it turns out that those things aren’t true. My anger that those things most important to me – my faith, my music, my creativity, my friends and family – were belittled and minimised. My anger that I was not allowed to be happy, so such an extent that I am having to learn what happiness actually is. It turns out that I have quite a lot to be angry about.
But here’s the thing – for the last ten years, I’ve learned that anger is bad. Anger is wrong. If someone else is angry, I’ll get hurt. If I get angry, I’ll get hurt. Anger leads to punishment. And so I’m pretty scared of my anger. Because it’s not a small thing. I’m frightened that it will overwhelm me. The amazing genius of Joss Whedon (talking about being forced to face evil, but I think I can generalise a bit here): “The darkness…the kind of darkness you can’t even imagine…A man comes up against that kind of darkness, the only way to deal with it, I suspect, is to become it”.
And yet anger is also an indication that something is wrong. That boundaries have been transgressed. That damage has been done. And I suspect that I can keep pushing away the darkness within, pretend it’s not there, and that it can’t hurt me. I can disguise it with words like “I’m pretty rope-able about that” (what a telling choice of words!) or minimise it by using terms like “cross” (how genteel!) or “pissed off”. But the reality is that I was hurt. For no reason at all. And I’m still paying the price for that. And I’m fucking angry about it.
I don’t know yet how deep this anger goes, or how to make space for it in my heart and soul and head. I don’t know yet whether it’s an abyss, or an all-consuming black hole. I pray that there’s enough tying me to the light – my friends, my family, the soul-feeding and life-giving blessings of my life, my own integrity – to keep me safe in this. All I know now is that I have to take my strength, the strength that’s got me this far, and stand as tall as I can to face the darkness.
Watch this space.