I was feeling tired and seemed to be holding fluid under my eyes. Changing my diet helped a bit, but I felt there was a deeper, perhaps emotional link. So I went to see Dr Li.
Or Paul, as he liked to be called.
Dr Li (Paul), checked my tongue. Hmm… Then he took my pulse. Hmm again. Then, he looked me in the eye and said “You too many angries.”
I almost laughed. This guy had no idea how many angries I used to have: whatever was left was a flicker of my previous way of being. But wow, I was impressed that he’d called me on my greatest “Issue” and we’d barely exchanged names.
“You use hammer?”
What? Dr Li was looking at me, and quite seriously asking if I used a hammer. I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.
“You stuff it down! You use hammer!” he said as he mimed the actions of hammering too many angries into an imaginary bag – I thought he looked a bit like David Copperfield, only Chinese.
“You too many angries,” he repeated slowly, with a smile.
I could tell Paul had a sense of humour and although he was serious in his diagnosis, his delivery was definitely intended to be comical.
At least I hope it was, because I burst out laughing.
“No!” I said. “I’m really open! I let all my angries out. Only, I thought I’d got rid of them.”
Dr Li proceeded to stick a bunch of pins in me and I got some great relief from the acupuncture. But the day I really dissolved my angries came about two years later.
And that’s what this blog is really about.
The day I admitted and accepted that I get angry sometimes.
And not only did I get a bit angry, I could get a lot angry. I could feel rage like a burning volcano that rose from the pit of my abdomen, building pressure until it hit just below my diaphragm. Once it reached that point, it was beyond boiling. It was fearsome and ferocious. Like dragon’s breath. That fiery anger could keep rising until it hit my throat like a poisoned arrow and if you were unlucky enough to be in the firing range, BOOM! You’d feel a verbal blow that almost set your fringe on fire and probably made you want to run away.
For most of my life I wasn’t what I would call proud of my anger, but I certainly called it my friend. I knew I wasn’t to be messed with. My anger was a bit of a safety net. It could get me out of trouble because I could be pretty scary.
Mostly, other people didn’t see it that way.
Some of my closest friends would tell me I should be more tolerant. Or that I should learn to control my temper. It wasn’t nice to be around.
I knew that, but when I was in a fit of rage the last thing I cared about was being polite or making sure other people felt happy in my presence.
Go f*ck yourself I’d think under my breath.
If they had any idea what this level of anger felt like they would never have been so ignorant to have told me to shut it down.
Would you ever try telling a rabid dog to sit and raise its paw? No. You wouldn’t be that foolish. You’d see from the deranged look in its eye that it was beyond reprimand. You wouldn’t even get close. Your inner wisdom would tell you to get the holy living f*ck away from it and you’d know you were lucky to have not been bitten.
I was that rabid dog. Many times.
Friends that have only known me for a short time find it hard to believe when I tell them how angry I used to get. These days I glide through life with very few angries, but they are still there, I’ve just learned a bit more about them. So trust me, just have a word with anyone that’s known me for more than 15 years and they’ll fill you in. I would still claim I was nice most of the time, but when I lost my temper. I really lost it. And it wasn’t pretty.
But then, one day, and I don’t remember how I got to this, but I somehow decided I was going to be OK with the fact that I get angry.
Somehow, I chose one day to claim my anger. Even though much of it had already diminished, I knew it still lived in me. I knew I still had the ability to feel anger and rage, but I decided I was going to make that OK.
Right there, on the spot, I chose to accept a part of myself that I had unknowingly been denying and minimising. And from that day on, my anger is but a flicker of what it used to be.
I still get angry. In fact, I recently felt thunderous rage because the bus I was on was going way too slow, and the people on it were talking way too loud and way too much.
But instead of seething and needing to tell everyone I came across for the next week about the annoying bus ride, I allowed myself to feel that rage. I felt the upward waves as they buffered from one side of my abdomen to the other, making their way towards my chest. Rising as they punched their way from below to above. Towards my throat (their escape route).
I sat on that bus and I let myself feel really angry. I acknowledged that anger. I recognised that it was actually rage. The deepest and biggest form of anger. Rage that often precedes violence, either in its verbal or physical form. When this stuff isn’t acknowledged, it grows.
Believe me, I know!
When you try and stuff those feelings back down, you’re in for a fight that’s bigger than you or me. Anger is powerful. It has a force like thunder and in order to perform its full duty, it must be acknowledged otherwise it will release itself with full force and god help anyone in the line of fire.
Because all the while you tell it its not OK to be what it is, it will fight you to the death. Internally it will eat you alive. Its fiery tongues will lap at your insides and create all kinds of digestive problems. It will ravage your mind like a whirling dervish, its energy desperate to be felt.
It will feel like the devil itself has you in its grip.
Until you look at it and say hi.
Just like joy, anger is a feeling and it deserves to be acknowledged and expressed. It has just as much right to exist as sadness and ecstasy. If it’s in you then it can’t be wrong. But as long as you try to ignore it, it will continue to blast out of its cocoon, often at the most inappropriate times. Like on the bus. When to anyone else, it seems like an ordinary day, nothing to fuss over.
Anger doesn’t care about appropriateness.
It just wants to be heard, to be felt, to have its very existence acknowledged.
It deserves your love. Just like all your other feelings and emotions. Without that anger I wouldn’t be me. Without all that fire, I wouldn’t also have the incredible drive and motivation I have. I wouldn’t have the courage to take the risks that I take, to face my fears the way I do. Without that burning anger I wouldn’t have the burning desire and passion that I also have.
You see, anger is just one end of the spectrum.
On the other end is Passion.
So the more you have of one, the more you will probably have of the other. They’re the same thing, only in a different expression.
But they must both be expressed.
Because in order to live our fullest and best lives, we must learn to love ourselves. And that means ALL of ourselves. Not just the “good” bits. Not just the bits that society says it’s OK to be, but ALL OF YOU.
Maybe your thing is sadness, depression, guilt, procrastination. Whatever it is, just look at it, feel it and learn to accept that it’s part of you and is therefore worthy of love.
Because one of the biggest mistakes many of us make, is that we’re only worth loving when we’re being “nice” or “good”.
I’m not saying let your anger out onto others and start screaming at people when they annoy you. I’m saying learn to understand that if anger is in you then it’s in you, and you may as well become friends with it.
Don’t force it back down. Feel it. Every single burning vibration of it, and recognise that you’re angry. Take a look at what is making you angry and use your mind to assess whether it’s worth acting out, or if you should just feel the anger and let it pass. It will usually be the latter, but it will only pass if you truly accept it.
So I say be whoever the damn hell you are, and BE it. ALL of it. LOVE that anger, or depression or whatever it is because it’s WHO YOU ARE and you should never have to apologise for that. We are all a combination of every single feeling and emotion there is. We just have them in different proportions.
So take your least favourite feeling out of the bag today and give it a hug.
I promise you that once you do, the rest of the world will start to reflect that love and acceptance back at you.
And if they don’t, well, just tell them to go f*** themselves!