Open Hearted Anger
I am standing there screaming in the face of my partner with every bit of rage that can be summoned. I am spewing ugly nasty comments, horribly hurtful words and disgusting and ugly remarks.
I am so close to his face I can’t even see his nose, and yet I still manage to get a finger up between me and him to point at him in a dominating and menacing way.
My rage, which is already bigger than the room, begins to grow even more and before I know it, words themselves are not enough to convey my upset and I am moved to literally stare at his face and start screaming and making intense animal type growls. My teeth are clenched, my eyes are bulging and I don’t think I’ve taken a breath for 2 whole minutes.
He looks as if he is going to either run screaming in fear, burst into tears or kill me.
We are in workshop about sex and relationships and we are in the middle of an exercise where it is my turn to bring out the most intense anger I can manage.
He is fully aware and prepared for the exercise and yet still standing in all my fury is still shocking to him.
Normally, when we are in a fight I eventually break down, feel into my hurt and start to cry. But this time we are asked to only generate our rage and so there is no hurt to draw from, only anger, all the anger form my life or any one else for that matter.
As I go through the motions I feel like I’ve been taken over, that I have become possessed and have turned into a female version of the Hulk.
I am not ashamed, nor am I apologetic. In fact being given permission to rage as an assignment feels exhausting, but simultaneously exhilarating.
As we wait for the next instructions and I calm down, I notice my man across from me. He is standing there looking at me; his face is soft and his body strong. I can’t believe he just took that. I am suddenly flushed with a flood of love and compassion for him. Not because he just took a verbal beating, but that he is someone who is willing to stand there in the fire with me (even when its my own) and not run away or shrink back.
Suddenly I feel the knot that is in my chest loosen and I let the anger dissipate and can feel my heart connected to his.
This weekend I realized that my anger and my heart have been running on two different tracks. When my heart is on, my anger is not and when my anger is running my heart turns off.
I know that both of the trains can run simultaneously, I am in no way interested in surpassing my upset and anger, in fact I pride myself on my ability to express the full range of my emotion, but even when I am angry I never want to forget that I love someone. I can still say what I want, or speak the same way, but the underlying chord of love is something that is important for me to maintain.
Life is so short and I am not interested in missing any opportunities to stay intimate and close with the people I love, even when in the midst of intense upset.
How do I say ‘I love you’ and ‘Fuck you’ at the same time? Not just with my words, but with my body, my heart and my soul.
I can see that for most of my life the people I care about the most, who also tend to be the ones that deal with most of my upset, have had to live with me pulling my heart away when I’m enraged. They have had to live with my lack of love at various times. I realize this is why my chest feels so clenched when I’m upset and why I am exhausted after fighting. I have to do so much work to shut my heart off on those moments. I love my partner and loving him is easy and natural, not loving him actually takes effort and work.
Later that night I am given the opportunity to practice what I’ve learned and bring my rage and heart together. At first I couldn’t do it, and it was difficult. I’ve trained both of those parts of me to never dance together. They both fumbled and at different times one or the other lead depending. But there were brief moments when they both found a rhythm and I was able to keep my heart pen and still yell and express and rage and vent.
I haven’t mastered this art yet, and I am sure it will be a lifelong journey, but I am glad to know I no longer have to choose between love and anger. I am glad to see that I have at least one new tool to try out and keep focused on when I am upset. I am glad that my heart will always have the opportunity to be there in every part of my life.
This is exciting to me and I am looking forward t strengthening this muscle, I know it will not only support me in my commitment to love but also in every relationships that I am a part of.
Back to the exercise, as my heartbeat steadies and my breath slows down, I am watching Scott’s face and we catch each others gaze. He smiles out from across me and I can’t believe I could ever stop loving him even for a moment.
It takes an incredible man to hold the fire and oceanic power of a woman’s volcanic rage. And he is still standing, loving me and willing to go there again.
It takes an extraordinary man to give that much room to my full range of horror.
Now we are switching sides and I am filled with a slight sense of fear, but mostly excitement.
The tables have turned and now it is my turn to get raged at. I am eager to see what it feels like to hold that much pain upset, and anger for another human being. What is it like to be that kind of a vessel for another human being?
I stand there before him with a twinkle in my eye, and my heart as open as it can be.
The volcano of his rage erupts, and without a moment of hesitation I dive right in.
Openhearted anger is not for the faint of heart. But for me, I know I will never be able to avoid upset, so I might as well learn to surf it and dance with it. No matter how I navigate the treacherous terrain of rage, I can, and will, always remember to make sure my heart is always there.
Life is too short not to invite her to the party, even when the party is a storm.