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Exploring anger

Flying into the sun.

We often fear that the Revolution needed is too big for what we can give.
Too much change is required inside, outside.
And we are too small.
But all that is required is that you step into the truth of your life.
And speak it, write it, paint it, dance it.
That you shine your light on your truth, for the world to see.
And as hundreds, then thousands, then millions do this – each sparking the courage of yet more –
Suddenly we have a world alight with truth.

~ Lucy H. Pearce, Burning Woman 

Streaks of fire in the sky at sunrise.

A little while back I mentioned that I had, for several reasons, given up alcohol.  I originally intended to take an extended vacation from it until I reached my goal weight, and then found that in many ways my life was better without it.  I sleep better, enjoy the early mornings more often, and I just feel better physically than I have in years.  It has now been over a year (nearly 400 days) since I started my unintentional journey into the life of a teetotaler.  I have learned more than I will ever be able to express in words about life, about myself, about the role of alcohol (food, social media, insert a myriad of things here) in my life, and the life of others (although, frankly, what others do is none of my business and I make a concerted effort to avoid judgments of any kind when it comes to the habits of others).

One thing that comes up continually is that smoking (something I quit 17 years ago), drinking, and a lot of other things (food, social media, insert a myriad of other things here), help to numb us, put up walls, keep us from the things we don’t want to feel or think about or experience.  When you take away the walls, when you take away the things that numb, then life becomes much more vivid.

Cloud ablaze.

Several weeks ago, I posted this tweet:

Every woman I know has been storing anger for years in her body and it’s starting to feel like bees are going to pour out of all of our mouths at the same time.

~ Erin Keane

Light in the darkness.

Lately, I keep circling back around to the quote and the image it brings to mind.  I don’t mean that I am obsessing on it.  It’s not something I think about constantly.  But it does pop up from time to time, as does the idea and the reality of feminine rage.  I can’t tell you how many articles, blog posts, talks, etc., that I’ve read or listened to recently about anger and feminine rage.  Perhaps the universe is trying to convey some sort of message.  Perhaps it’s just a matter of where I’ve been putting my attention.

Rather than push it away or ignore it, I’ve been exploring my own anger, my own rage, and how I’ve stored it in my body.  I’ve been exploring, too, the idea that some of the anger I carry is not my own anger, but that of my mother, my grandmother, my great-grandmother, and generations of women in general.  That might sound odd, but it is, in a way, something scientists have been exploring.  Have you heard of epigenetics?  There’s a short video about it here.  The video explains it from the patrilineal side of things.  I would imagine that experiences can also be passed on from the mother’s side as well.

Reaching across the sky.

The Dalai Lama says that the world will be saved by Western women. Not any women, perhaps not all women, but Burning Women. Women who have stepped out of silence and into the fullness of their power. Angry women who love the world and her creatures too much to let it be destroyed so thoughtlessly for a moment longer.

Burning Woman is the heart and soul of revolution – inner and outer. She burns for change, she dances in the fire of the old, all the while visioning and weaving the new.

~ Lucy H. Pearce, Burning Woman

Sunlight in a flower.

I recently read a blog post by Karin L. Carlson of Return Yoga titled Kali and Feminine Rage.  It is an excellent read so if you have the time, please go have a look.  It is a long read, but worth it because it is beautiful and there might be something to be learned in it.  It was Ms. Carlson’s blog post, along with some meditations on the element of fire, that inspired me to explore my own anger, past and present, big and small, individual and collective.  I’ve been exploring it on and off the yoga mat and meditation cushion, and I’m surprised at what sometimes comes up.

Zinnia mandala.

I have discovered a lot about myself through this journey into a life without alcohol and into the anger I feel, the anger I hold, the anger I have repressed.  Without the numbing effects of alcohol, I am unable to tamp down the fire of anger that comes up.  For a while, I became what I call a “blurter.”  Expressions of my feelings, in the form of words, would come tumbling out of my mouth before I had a chance to think things through.  This is not, of course, a good way to live life with other people.  It’s best to pause a moment, take a few deep breaths while acknowledging the anger, the sadness, the whatever, and then deal with it head on if I can.  I am getting better at that although the blurting still happens from time to time.

Seeking the light.

I was not taught how to deal with anger (or any strong emotions, for that matter).  I grew up in an age of “children are to be seen and not heard,” and anger was certainly not something I was encouraged to express or even acknowledge.  I’m not parent-blaming.  I don’t think my parents were taught healthy ways of expressing their emotions any more than I was.  You can’t teach what you don’t know.

Surprise.

On a larger scale, there is a lot of anger floating around in the world, particularly in the U.S. right now.  I think we need to acknowledge that and find ways of expressing it that is not cruel or hurtful to others.  Some of that anger is being stoked to promote an agenda that, frankly, I don’t understand.  It’s as if some folks want to burn down the world.  I wish I knew how to help wake up the people who are raging at rallies.  I wonder if even they know what it is they are angry about.  Maybe if they understood their anger, they would stop supporting the people who are perpetuating it.

The mess we are living in is a deliberate one. If it was created by people, it can be dismantled by people, and it can be rebuilt in a way that serves all, rather than a selfish, hoarding few.

~ Reni Eddo-Lodge, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race

Father, mother, and baby.

Once again, I have no answers.  Just musings and wonderings and my little soapbox.

Thank you for dropping by on this strange-weather day.  There was a rainbow at sunrise this morning, followed by heavy downpours and sunny spells.  The clouds, wind, and rain come and go, come and go.  We might be able to see the sunset this evening.  Let’s meet at the Point.  Sunset is scheduled for 8:12 PM.  Bring your rain gear, just in case.  Or not.  Maybe, like me, you’d prefer to splash in the puddles and let the rain wash over you.

Be good, be kind, be loving.  Just Be.  🙂

This morning’s rainbow.

A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy:  801)  Morning rainbows.  802)  Butterflies visiting the garden.  803)  Summer soups (especially the cold soups such as gazpacho) and salads.  804)  Fresh, juicy peaches from a local orchard.  805)  Those moments when I feel like I’m in the rhythm or flow of life.

Exploring a zinnia.
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Author:

Robin is a photographer, artist, writer, wife, sometime poet, mom, grandma, daughter, sister, friend, and occasional traveler currently living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She finished a 365 commitment to get outside every day in 2011, and has turned it into a lifelong commitment taking one or more walks each day. Robin will continue to share her walks through her words and images on Breezes at Dawn. Older posts can be found at Life in the Bogs, her previous blog. Robin and her husband are in the midst of renovating the house and property they refer to as the Wabi-Sabi Ranch, 35 acres that include marsh, a dock on a tidal creek, meadows, and woodlands. Every day brings new discoveries.

38 thoughts on “Exploring anger

  1. A lot to contemplate, Robin. Listening to the 45’s pep rallies and all the hate does make me angry, which isn’t healthy. There’s a lot of scariness in the world right now–not that there hasn’t always been, but before at least we could assume our leaders were mostly trying to help us.
    But then again, there are rainbows! That one is stunning! It’s raining here now.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, there are rainbows! There are a lot of beautiful, wondrous things and events, even in these scary times. 🙂 It’s difficult to know what to do with that kind of anger, Merril. That’s why I wanted to try to write about it. I’ve been sitting on this post for a couple of weeks, editing it like crazy, trying not to make it too personal or too political, but I couldn’t totally avoid either of those things.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Robin, this spring and summer, a tiny herd of deer — two stags, a doe, and two fawns — has been living in my neighborhood. I see them most often in the early dawn or deep dusk.

    Beyond that, I think our parents must have been more or less the same generation. I grew up in a single-parent home, and my mother didn’t know how to deal with anger, so of course, couldn’t teach my brothers and I how to. She was an extraordinary mother, but everyone has weaknesses, and that was one of hers.

    To mom, no expression of anger was ever legitimate. The only way to deal with it — or even the hint of it — was to repress it. Of course then it comes out explosively when you let your guard down.

    Having said that, I wonder what the sources of feminine anger are? My suspicion is that men have a large role in it. I long ago discovered the ugly truth that almost everywhere you go in this world men oppress women, children, and each other. But women and children certainly get the worse of it, I think.

    Another thought that occurs to me is how so many women are trained to put everyone else first and suppress their own legitimate needs and desires. I think that’s a killer.

    This might be a bit fantastic, but I think the Dalai Lama is correct, but I would go further. If we manage to save ourselves, Robin, we will be saved by egalitarian matriarchies such as ones similar to that of the Mosuo people of China. You know, violence against women is so rare in their culture that they don’t even have a word for “rape”!

    I hope all is well with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Paul. It’s great to see you again. I lost track of you, and I’m glad to see you’re still posting. 🙂

      I think you may be right about a lot of what you wrote here. I have not heard of the Mosuo people of China. I’m going to look into them. I sometimes think the world might be a better place if women were to run it, but also have to remind myself that just as not all men are bad, not all women are good. We’re seeing a lot of not-so-good women within the current administration.

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      1. So true about not all women being good, Robin. One must never lose sight of that. But the thing that so impresses me about matriarchies like the Mosuo is that they are more egalitarian than most other societies, and even the men like the arrangement.

        Try to find the NPR article on the Mosuo, among your other sources. It’s one of the most informative. It’s either NPR or Nova, can’t recall which.

        Like

  3. There is a mounting anger in the collective consciousness and one does wonder how it will be resolved. Hopefully, with an awakening and not by the old timeworn means – violence. I keep thinking about famous quotes about circling back to love, like MLK’s ‘hate does not drive out hate, only love can do that.’ Yes, we need to start with ourselves and spread the word the best we can.
    Your photos are wonderful, Robin– nature’s beauty and rhythms are a great comfort to me. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m hoping for the awakening too, Eliza. I think of MLK and his wisdom quite often lately.

      Thank you. Nature’s beauty and rhythms are a comfort to me, too. I’m not sure if I would have kept my sanity (such as it is…lol!) for this long without it. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Glad I made time to read this, this morning, though I don’t have time to read the links. I shall think about the exploring anger theme on my walk through the park to zumba. Thanks for your thoughts and lovely photos. Have a great weekend, Robin. 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I know I have a lot of anger about what is happening in the USA and in the world right now; I’m not sure what to do with it either other than writing scathing letters to our only Republican Congresswoman (we otherwise have all Democrats), and voting in the upcoming elections. I’ve never been good at keeping my anger reined in; I tend to blurt it out and very vociferously at that. I guess I learned that kind of expression from my father, who is that way too. It’s interesting to meditate on anger and how we store it in our bodies. I believe as women, we do carry a heavy burden of it wherever we go!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve been venting in similar ways when it comes to politics and the good old USofA, Cathy. I also occasionally tweet my Republican congressman and decided I might have to give that up before they send someone over to check me out and make sure I’m not dangerous. lol! I do try to keep it civil but he’s probably wondering why I keep asking, “When are you retiring, Andy?”

      Meditating and exploring anger for the past few weeks has been a very interesting experience. I didn’t realize how much I was carrying around with me until I started to acknowledge it. Anger seems to need that recognition before it can be let go.

      Like

      1. I’ve written a couple of scathing letters to my Republican Congresswoman and have heard back from her, but she didn’t address my concerns satisfactorily. It honestly doesn’t matter what she does, I will vote Democratic in the election as we need to turn the House and the Senate (if possible) to put a check on this administration!

        I haven’t been able to let go of anger over what’s happening in our country and in the world today, but sometimes I feel we need to hold on to our anger, and vent it, to make sure we don’t become complacent, and complicit. I wish you luck in letting it go. I guess when it starts to affect your own life negatively, it’s not a good thing. Yet, we need to remain galvanized.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Mine never responds satisfactorily to my concerns, either. In fact, I often wonder if anyone actually reads what I write. But at least I had my say.

          I agree with you about remaining galvanized. I think with all the chaos, it’s hard not to. It seems like there is a fresh outrage just about every day. Ugh.

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  6. Robin, so much complexity here, so much to consider – thank you for such a thoughtful and stirring post. I had goosebumps as I was reading this. Gentle truth examining the volatility of anger and yet the most beautiful images of nature – flower mandalas indeed. Yes, I think most woman have internalized their anger against themselves in order not to blurt it out because of social conditioning, and sometimes that internalized anger is expressed as disease yet now it seems to be ringing out more directly. I am on a path not unlike yours, seeking the truth about myself and how to speak it clearly to others. I feel the bees gathering. . .

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve put down things that weren’t mine to carry along the way. I believe things can be passed down — like anger — through generations.

    As for the angry people, hurt and pain is beneath anger (usually) and people don’t like to look at those things. As you discussed, they prefer to numb — seems easier. As for the people stoking it, you’re right — some people just want to watch the world burn. I’m not sure there’s hope for those folks.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s what I’m aiming for, Tara — to put down things that are not mine to carry. I don’t mind putting down a few things that were mine to carry but aren’t anymore. 🙂

      Yes, some folks want to watch the world burn and spread their hate far and wide. I am trying to think of it as a boil that needed lanced. I know that’s a gross analogy, but maybe letting all this hatefulness out into the light will eventually lead to healing.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s a sad time when anger and hate seem to be encouraged by those who are supposed to be our leaders, and I find it frustrating and yes, angering. In many ways I am very fortunate to have the life I have, and I appreciate that – but my inner anger grows at all of the threats to my life and that of many others that I see happening on a daily basis anymore. Most frustrating is that I feel my vote doesn’t matter and won’t matter, as long as we have the electoral college.

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    1. I feel the same way about my vote, Carol. I’m not at all sure it will matter. I will, of course, vote anyway and hope that everyone else does the same. I especially hope the young people will vote. I heard on the news this morning that millennials will soon be the largest voting block in the country. All we need to do is get them to vote. That might be hard to do since so many feel as you and I do — that their vote won’t count or matter.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. A ton of it, Sudipto. Quitting smoking was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in life. I was part of a great support group, online of all places, and that made a huge difference. Unfortunately, the website no longer exists, but I’m guessing there might be others out there. It helped me a lot to have the more experienced quitters around to say “this is normal” whenever something cropped up (like “oxygen head” which is when you get lightheaded because your body is now getting more oxygen).

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  9. so much to digest, so much to admire – not only your magnificent photographs but your writings and the habit kicking (I abandoned smoking 9 years ago).
    As therapist I saw much suppressed anger which can be too hot to handle for many – not least because of the hot/cold imbalance with tears (some of us cry a lot instead of expressing anger and vice versa)
    I also feel that we misconstrue anger as protest, loud shouting etc instead of it being the fire of self-expression
    And lastly but not least – I think it is men who should be angry in this day and age when there seems to be such a post feminist (badly misconstrued movement) backlash from the way they are portrayed as stupid in so many adverts to the wildfires in the wake of #metoo

    Thought this poem extract from April Bernard’s Anger might appeal:

    “I miss my anger. Decades go by
    when all I can muster is absent-minded invective,
    you know, directed at the news;
    or a brief fantasy
    of shoving someone in front of a bus. Yesterday
    I slammed my fist on my desk
    and then apologized, to the desk”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting perspective, Laura. I don’t know that I can agree with you about how the men should be angry. They have been in charge for a long time and many have overstepped or worse and many have kept silent about the overstepping or worse. I, too, can say #metoo and it started at a young age. I do see your point, however, and I know there are good men who don’t deserve to be lumped in with the abusers. I haven’t seen any adverts like that here (although we still have plenty that don’t represent women very well).

      I think anger can be turned into peaceful protest. Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. are good examples of that.

      Wonderful poem. Thank you. 🙂

      Like

  10. “being stoked ”
    You nailed it. inflammatory language. Extreme sensitivity. Social media hysterical bullying before getting the facts – or even being actually affected by something. Loud just to be loud and difficult/disruptive
    So much rabidness/hate far too much like the suggestions that fueled the Salem witch trials.
    Far too much anger against something/anything and everything – wanting top tear things down but no solutions offered.
    There is wisdom and answers out there, but far too many are giddy with adrenaline without realizing the destructiveness.
    Society has said it’s OK for excessive displays of emotions – even if unwarranted – encourages it even – for the cameras – for viral video ratings
    Everyone needs to step back a bit and calm down.
    Funny how natural disasters sometimes do remind people we have more in common than differences…
    In some areas far too many women have been jammed into roles for decades. By society – and by themselves who were far too willing to be compliant or “popular” or “accepted”. I guess it’s a little more free down here and in the West where each individual had to contribute or starve or be left behind…or maybe that’s just been forgotten.
    I’m older than you. Fortunately too stray outside the lines as a kid, and in career. You have to be tough – and view the men the times and society in context. My mom worked in non traditional areas, my grandmother worked – even though she was from the lace and elegant era – she was fierce and independent ( and still my mom suffered from society’s traditional views during childhood – you can’t escape it all ).
    Anger is destructive.
    Bring back knowledge in schools not teamwork, reward those who work hard (be kind to those who don’t – just not rewarding), practice “everyone is good at something – do that and drop the rest”, insist on manners with children, teach K-12 civil debate – not emotion driven screaming without substance and name calling (How to verbally express oneself calmly, think on your feet and counterpoint with substance…which goes back to authoritative sources, researching and knowledge,)
    And for goodness sake, let everyone get some sleep. Sleep deprivation causes problems where there are none.
    Would society be calmer if all businesses and stores shut down one day a week – any day – pick one – just uniformly everything close…and let people sleep and do nothing. People might actually talk of have some fun to relieve the stress and ager?
    Something has to make the merry-go-round stop – for all of our sakes

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is so interesting–I’ve been doing some work lately that I haven’t quite known how to talk about, as far as accessing very deeply vulnerable or repressed parts of self through deliberate, targeted self-denial…I’d realized many years ago that if I got too hungry, I would become wildly emotional…utterly unlike myself. For a long time, I dismissed that as simple chemical imbalance; my body doesn’t handle low blood sugar very well. But then I started to wonder…what if there’s more to it than that? What if the safety/comfort I’ve striven to achieve in daily life is masking access to parts of self that need to be heard?

    So, I started an experiment with periodic fasting…I’m not eating less than I did, but I’m doing it differently, so that I have an opportunity to be almost unbearably hungry first, which flips some kind of switch in my brain and brings up equally almost-unbearable feelings of abandonment, loss, and fear. Interestingly, one of the first things that happened was a series of really vivid memories about what it was like for me as a child when my family was extremely poor…things I’d closed off and decided never to experience again. But without access to those memories, there was no way for me to “upgrade my software,” as I like to call it, and bring myself more fully into current time, where I am my own parent, and I can be trusted to make safe and responsible decisions on my own behalf.

    I have to be sure to time these experiments correctly, so that the worst of it will happen when I have a day off, or I don’t have to interact with clients, because of the “blurting” thing you mention…until I sort of ride the wave instead of being drowned by it, I’m unfiltered and irrational. But that has been fascinating to parse out–one morning when I was in The Danger Zone, I got a call from a colleague asking a fairly simple question which I was unable to answer without doing a bit of research, and after I hung up I was shaking and almost hysterical, convinced that I wouldn’t be able to find the answer and my colleague would sue or kill me. This is not an exaggeration–I was so terrified that I was unable to function. I would never, ever have had the opportunity to access that level of fear in a (comparatively) controlled circumstance if I hadn’t deliberately set out to provoke it with physical discomfort. And I would never have had the opportunity to invite my terrified past self to observe my current safe life, had I not found where the past lives in my brain.

    All of which is to say: emotion that seems uncontrollable is always a treasure trove. And I can say from personal experience that anger is one hell of a fantastic fuel…it burns hot and fast and will take you places you never thought you could go. It’s a somewhat corrosive fuel and leaves a bunch of engine deposits, but you can learn to clean those out. Had I not been fueled for the first 40 years of my life by anger (not against anyone I knew, but against The Vagaries of Fate and The Fucked-Up World) I would never have made it far enough to be in a space to learn how to be truly fueled by a desire to show compassion to people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s fascinating, David. I’ve been learning a lot through yoga about how the body holds on to emotions, and some of the poses are designed to help release what we’re holding. I think that’s why I sometimes find myself in tears or angry or any number of things after a good yoga practice. It’s similar to your hunger experiments in that certain poses can drive me towards certain feelings. I’ve been working with poses that are said to release old trauma (one yogi, Colleen Saidman Yee calls them poses that help us gain “freedom from the imprints and obstructions that are held in our bodies.”

      This past year of not numbing myself with alcohol (or food, for that matter) has brought up things I’d long forgotten about or hid from myself. It’s been quite a journey, arduous at times. Kundalini yoga in particular has been the catalyst for release for me. It’s very woo-woo stuff at times, but it does feel to me that they may be on to something when it comes to energy in the body and how it moves (or doesn’t move if it’s blocked by something such as old anger or other emotions that are trapped within).

      I can see how anger would be a fuel to drive a person on, even driving them towards compassion eventually. It does have it’s uses, that’s for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Robin, thank you for this honest and vulnerable blog. All sorts of emotions percolate under the surface and many of us have gotten good at pushing them away or acting out from them. I keep trying to more steadily attend to the arising without doing either, but it’s a learning curve, isn’t it? I have only had two glasses of wine in more than 50 days and feel so much better without it. But not yet sure about the long term. May we tenderly provide a container of Presence for our anger when she makes herself known.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a BIG learning curve, Kathy. I suppose that’s part of what keeps life and all of this interesting. Thank you for the blessing at the end of your comment. It’s wonderful. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are delightful and always appreciated. I will respond when I can (life is keeping me busy!), and/or come around to visit you at your place soon. Thank you!

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