“Don’t you hate your ex for what he did to you?” Thus my friend asked the question which sparked the whole process of thinking and musing around hatred, and anger, and being overwhelmed and being strengthened.
And here’s the thing: I know that there’s nothing wrong with my anger. I know that anger is healthy, and pure, and that it won’t sweep me away but that it will strengthen me. That it will help me to continue to heal. And I know that I shouldn’t be ashamed of it.
But instead of saying something intelligent, and honest – “No, I don’t hate him, but I’m really very angry” – I stymied my own integrity. “He’s not exactly on my Christmas card list”, I said with a lightness that betrayed the reality of the situation. And, later in the conversation – not coping with my friend’s distress on my behalf after I described one of many painful, frightening, humiliating things to which I was subjected – I did it again. “Yes, he wasn’t really a very nice man”, I quipped, and the understatement was far more about protecting myself from my own feelings than it was about truly believing what I was saying.
A number of months ago, I sat down and wrote a narrative, a conversation between my fictional self and the dragon manifestation of my anger. It was a helpful thing to do. I realised that the dragon was not going to sweep me away, that it was not going to twist me or change me or make me into some evil unrecognisable being, twisted inwards on myself, feeding on my own bitterness. I realised that the dragon seeks to protect me, to help me to come to grips with all that happened, to help me to heal. To keep me from being tormented by my own shame, because if I am angry about those abuses to which I was subjected, then it stands to reason that they are not my fault. That I carry no blame (well, not that much, anyway) and that I should therefore carry no shame. But for that to be the case, I have to trust the dragon. I have to let the dragon into my consciousness, rather than shunt it down beneath layers of thought to where I can no longer hear or see or acknowledge it.
It’s a work in progress, and the other day, in the conversation with my friend, I screwed it up. It’s not the end of the world, it’s not the only chance I’ll get, it’s not a big deal at all, really. It’s just that this time I screwed it up. Dragon denied once more. Sorry, dragon.