I wrote two days ago about my denial of the dragon: struggling to acknowledge my anger, even when it’s named for me, about what was done to me. Even knowing that my healthy, pure anger is completely different from the bitterness and destructive hate that I fear. Even understanding that my anger will only twist in on itself and become bitter hatred if I don’t have the courage to acknowledge it, if I continue to push it down beneath the threshold of my thoughts and pretend that it doesn’t exist. Even understanding that as the greatest risk I could take, I still can’t bring myself to do the opposite: open myself to my anger, acknowledge it and honour it and make room for it in my mind and in my experience.
Anger is painful, because, if I acknowledge that I’m angry, it implies that there’s something to be angry about. That I’ve been transgressed against, trespassed upon. That my rights have been infringed. That my feelings have been hurt, my safety compromised, my soul battered and devalued. That I’ve been made worthless in someone else’s eyes. And that hurts, and I’d rather not acknowledge it, really. Which means that I can’t acknowledge my anger – because acknowledging anger means acknowledging hurt. And while that’s getting easier, it’s still not something I’m really brave enough to spend a whole lot of time sitting with.
Also, if anger implies that there’s something to be angry about, it also implies that there’s something worth protecting. It seems a trivial example, but today a colleague helped herself to a post-it note and a pen from my desk to write a note. Both (this sounds counter-intuitive for an office environment, but it’s true) are rare items in our office. I didn’t care about the post-it note, despite the fact that it left me with only three notes in a pad that last week held a hundred (of which I’ve used about twelve). It was the pen I kept a beady eye on and expected back the minute she’d written her final full-stop. That’s because I value my pen far more than I value my post-it notes. I would fight to the death to protect my pen from an office of stationary-thieves. I don’t care enough about the post-it notes to bother.
Being angry about the transgressions against me, about the trespass upon me, about the infringement of my rights to safety and security and the denial of my own value and integrity – it assumes that those things have some worth. That I have some worth. And that’s scary.
So my anger – instead of getting twisted in on itself to become something akin to hatred – is hard to hold onto, because holding onto it is challenging, and forces me to acknowledge that I am worth protecting. But all this is making me wonder: denied in what it is, does my anger find its expression in anxiety and shame?
I don’t know the answer for sure but I rather suspect that I do. And I rather suspect that, like most of the answers to this type of question, it’s a pretty inconvenient one.