Now the title of my post of saying It’s okay to get angry does not encourage you to go off on someone or lose your temper. That’s not what I mean. I teed up what I was going to share with you on my prior post Seeking and Finding Abundant Wholeness. Expressing our anger is sometimes exactly what we need to get unstuck.
When we don’t deal with issues that are stuffed down, it makes us feel stuck and overwhelmed. That was certainly the case with me. I was stuck. The process I used to get unstuck was the power of meditation and journaling.
I drew this meditation cartoon as an example of what happens when we don’t get quiet and do some soul searching. We can get wound pretty tight as a result!
I took a cartoon class a year ago and as a result I finally began to draw again after thirty years. You see, growing up I had always wanted to be an artist. That was my passion. As a kid you would always find me with crayons in my hand. As I became older (meaning a teenager) I moved on to charcoal, pastels and dabbled in some painting. Art was an escape for me. I was in my creative world where everything was fun and beautiful – a contrast to the reality of living in an environment with an unstable father who was an alcoholic. His drinking didn’t make him a happy drunk, quite the contrary. We never discussed Dad’s outbursts and violence. That’s pretty hard to process as a child.
We lived in a small house with only two bedrooms. I have one brother who was seven years older than I, so he had one bedroom and my parents had the other. I slept in the living room on a fold-out bed.
My love for creating meant that I had collected many master pieces, but I had no place to put them without having my own room. I also loved books and reading and had books that my British grandmother had sent me all the way from England. All of my treasures ended up on the living room coffee table.
I think I was around eight years old at the time. I came home from school and the coffee table was completely clear. I asked my father where all of my drawings and books were and he screamed, “I threw them out! I was tired of the clutter! That will teach you to put things away!”
My first response was to race outside to the garbage to retrieve my treasures. The garbage cans were empty. The trash collectors had already come. I was in shock and disbelief. Gone! Everything was gone with the exception of one book which I still have today.
I am still affected by that act. Writing these words takes me back to that moment of panic and running out of the door like it was yesterday. What my father said to me that day wasn’t about clutter. What I heard was, “Your work doesn’t matter. I don’t care about you. What you’ve created doesn’t matter, it’s trash.”
Yes, I have forgiven my father. Yes, I realize that he wasn’t in his right mind. But, what I never did was get angry about it. I was a child. I couldn’t stand up for myself. Instead, I internalized that moment to tell myself that my work didn’t matter. It was a lie, and I believed it.
So, a few weeks ago when I was journaling and having my quiet time in the morning, I started getting very angry. You see, anger for me is a tough thing too. Because of my father’s violent outbursts, I vowed not to get angry. I find myself recoiling when someone starts yelling and screaming. But there is healthy anger and unhealthy anger. After all of these years I realized that I had never gotten angry over this injustice that kept me in a self-imposed prison of fear, doubt and unworthiness.
No one else was home at the time. As my anger started to build I left my journal on the kitchen table and went into the bedroom to let it rip. I screamed at the top of my lungs. I beat a pillow. I got out my anger of being sick and tired of feeling inadequate. I cursed my father for what he did. I screamed that I hated the act and that I let that act control me for decades. I finally fought back.
What a difference those few minutes meant for a feeling of peace and release. This was definitely unfinished business that I had to take care of.
If your heart is speaking to you about unfinished business in your life, I encourage you to get quiet and get in touch with what is causing unrest in your soul. Don’t keep pushing down your feelings or pushing away the inner voice. The longer you wait to deal with issues, the more painful it will be.
I was fortunate that I didn’t use this pent up anger to take it out on others. One of my favorite spiritual authors and mentors is Father Richard Rohr. He will tell you that, “If you don’t transform your pain, you will always transmit it.”
Perhaps I should have sought professional help years ago. Our society has an attitude to “get over it” and move on. Past hurts, disappointments and losses don’t always make it possible to move on.
Continue to soul search and to seek help, trusted help. Meditate, journal and pray for God to help you…. and He will.
If you’ve never practiced meditation, it is a powerful tool to help you in your life. I use cut number four from, “Be Still and Know that I am God.” Journaling is another powerful tool. It’s important to resolve unfinished business so that we can get unstuck and move on with our lives.
It’s okay to get angry. Sometimes releasing anger is just what you need.