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From The Archives: On Anger

Originally Published Oct 16th 2016

Oh boy. The past few weeks. Wow.

In the Artist’s Way there’s a whole chapter devoted to anger.

Anger is meant to be listened to. Anger is a voice, a shout, a plea, a demand. Anger is meant to be respected. Why? Because anger is a map. Anger shows us what our boundaries are. Anger shows us where we want to go. It lets us see where we’ve been and lets us know when we haven’t liked it. Anger points the way, not just the finger. In the recovery of a blocked artist, anger is a sign of health.

~julia cameron

Last year, doing the Artist’s Way, I didn’t even think I was angry. Angry is not something that I am quick to… sadness and anxiety are the first responders to my negative situations. But now one year in and I fantasize about flipping tables and smashing mirrors- in a good way! I promise!

Ironically, my 9 year old had a total tantrum yesterday.

Like an out of body tantrum, the ones that make him runaway in pyjamas, or climb trees and lock himself in the house instead of going to Spanish school. He was in that space, and as a parent, it’s hard to know how to act. But you guys, because I had been angry and crying ALL WEEK, I was finally able to put my shit down and reach him.

Because I KNOW what those tantrums feel like, and as adults, women SPECIALLY, we are never allowed to have them. But because I have now given myself permission to have as long a tantrum as I need, it was a lot easier to have empathy for him. Imagine as a society, how healing it would be if we could extend that kindness to each other, as a basic need?  That instead of walking around trying to pretend like we have all the answers and we’re totally together, we could just recognize that we’re at the core, just tantrum ridden toddlers, angry about the fact that we can’t really be free.

I don’t care about right anymore.  In the woods I go, to recognize my anger and try to figure out where it’s leading me and my fellow angry women. This is what I’ve figured out…

I’m angry as a woman for all women… that we have to worry about looking a certain way to be taken seriously. That we get  worth boosts from groomed eyebrows and have been raised to judge others based on their own appearances, the same way we judge ourselves.

I’m angry as a parent, for all parents…. that we need to think about how my sons and daughter are growing up in a completely inappropriate world.

I’m angry as a wife,  for all wives….. that now 50 years later, we need to be full time mothers AND full time wage earners to live in ‘middle class’. And that the chasm between man and woman is so deep that maybe we need to question the whole structure of society. Maybe we need to go back to village.

I’m angry as a daughter … for all daughters of women raised by generations of patriarchs who showed no love, no care and placed no values on female lives beyond their ability to procreate and tend to men.

I’m angry as a person, for all people who live in a world where lack and abundance co-exist at the detriment of health, social rights and security of  billions of people.

Today on the mountain trails I realized something.

I don’t think I want to  be right, I don’t think that’s what I’m fighting for at the core of this anger

And I am no longer willing to compromise my values,  just to make someone else less uncomfortable.

So maybe you’re angry too. Nothing about this is easy, but I have a feeling that Julia Cameron was right… anger points the way.

So. My friends, where does that leave us?  Elizabeth Gilbert closed up her 2nd  season of Magic Lessons podcast by lauching the following question: (you can read the almost 3K comments on her FB page here)

John Steibeck wrote in East of Eden

And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.

And it got pushed one step further by asking

What if instead of being good, we could be free?

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