Changing my relationship with Anger

I was originally going to call this post, Leaving Anger Behind, except that isn’t what I’m going. I am not going to pretend or lie to myself that I would ever be completely free from anger. That would be a little naive of me. As someone born with the ability to feel things so incredibly and, intensely1, I need to accept the fact that this ‘gift’ includes the entire spectrum of emotions from elation to devastation2.

This is an endeavour that I’ve attempted before, and I thought I had succeeded… but of course, I didn’t anticipate going through a trauma like I did in the last two years. I didn’t prepare to deal with healing from a trauma3 before it happened; I was ill-equipped to come out of it with as much poise and grace as I would have liked.

Oh but the lessons I’ve learned! So. Many. Lessons.

Take my relationship with anger; for example. Anger is this… temptress… it uses it’s hardness seductively to make you think that it will serve as a good shield to protect you from things that might hurt you. Oh and how it works; it works really well. What it doesn’t tell you? What it doesn’t tell you is that it also shields you from the most beautiful moments, when you are vulnerable enough to feel the kind of joy that comes from being completely real with someone. When both of your shields are down, and you’re able to look at each other with all of your battle wounds and just be4. It doesn’t tell you about missing out on that, and you don’t realize it until that moment is long gone.

Now I may have missed moments already, but I’m in a much better place now to see any future moments that may come my way. I didn’t get to this place on my own. This place where I can finally say I am no longer angry5. I am incredibly blessed to have the most amazing friends who spent many hours listening to me when I needed someone to listen, and holding me when I needed to be held, and working out with me when I needed to let off some steam. There is no way I would have made it to this point if it weren’t for any of you6.

I digress.

It may seem obvious, but it wasn’t always obvious to me; the most important thing I’m practising is how to avoid getting angry with myself for things that really aren’t my fault, nor are/were in my control. Also important, is not getting angry at myself even if something is/was within my control. I know I won’t always succeed7, and because that falls under the category of ‘things I can’t control’; if it happens, I just have to recognize what’s happening, accept it and forgive myself rather than getting upset that it happened ‘yet again’. It’s a practice that’s easier said than done. Until you’ve practiced it enough times that it just becomes easy, and oh-so rewarding.

It’s been nice being able to come across a situation that – just last month – would have had me spiraling into all of the negative thoughts that have kept me down, but to instead be able to take a breath and let it go. Sometimes, I have to vent to a friend first and talk things out before I can let go, and that’s okay too8.

I’m not saying anger doesn’t have it’s place in a person’s life. I’m just saying it has no place in mine.

Photo unrelated, though somehow related. Taken while out on a hike with my brother and his/the family dog, Drogo. Follow me on instagram: @fragileheart
  1. double adjectives because that’s now intense it is []
  2. or whatever extreme you’d prefer []
  3. how could I know I would be traumatised by such things? []
  4. Oh right, I’m not writing a poem right now. Heh. I got carried away with my analogy []
  5. or depressed for that matter []
  6. there is also therapy but um, I actually pay him so… []
  7. because surprise, I’m human! []
  8. thankfully, it’s okay to my friends too – THANK YOU!! []

When the pain begins to fade

While you’re in pain, it’s easy to forget a time when your life didn’t consist of anything else. When you’re in emotional pain, it’s really hard to focus on anything else. There are things you can do to survive, to make it through each and every moment – moment by moment – every day. People will call you brave. People will you give you all sorts of positive encouragement because they think it helps. It does help, but nothing takes the pain away.

The only thing that helps is time. And no matter how many times you’ve been through pain, you don’t become immune and the pain doesn’t get any easier to get over.

[I’m going to interrupt myself for a second because as I’m writing this I’m continually hearing a voice in my head telling me how dramatic I am1. Yes, it’s something a real person has repeatedly said to me.2. I’m airing it out because I can’t concentrate on what I want to say].

Now that the pain is beginning to fade3, I’m grateful because I’ve survived through most of the worst of the pain without the aid of the usual vices and for the first time in my life I feel like I’m able to properly reflect on all the things that went wrong and really learn from them. I’m aware that I’m not out of the woods yet. The pain has begun to fade but the grey area I’m in means I could have a relapse at any minute.

After a good weekend like this past one, a relaxing week before that, and an amazing week working for Canadian Music Week before that… it’s nice to look forward to a time when I can hold said pain the palm of my hand4, and look at it fondly, as it’s all I’ll have left of what happened. At least, after months of trying it appears to me that it will be all I’ll have left. I’d explain further, but that would require talking about things that aren’t mine to talk about so I won’t. Maybe I’m wrong, but when it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck… it rarely ever is anything but a duck, right? Hmm.

Here’s to looking forward to an amazing summer filled with awesome friends, and adventures 🙂

  1. with negative connotations []
  2. No, the negative connotation wasn’t always there with their words []
  3. and for the sake of my summer I am hoping this is a permanent shift []
  4. because it’ll be that small []

On rejecting stage fright

I thought about it briefly as I was getting ready to meet my friend Jen for the evening. I thought about it long enough to pick out a poem to read, if I did in fact pull my finger out of my ass and read that night. Mind you, it took me less than 30 seconds to figure out which poem I would read. You know, if I did read that night.

I had a particularly difficult day. Most days had been difficult leading up to that day. Most days are difficult, but you find the light1, focus just below it and you move forward. We arrived pretty early; much earlier than we needed to. Thank goodness, because we were both starving. We walked next door to a cute little restaurant called The Combine Eatery – which seems like such an awkward name, but the food and the service made up for it.

I think it really helped that I was with Jen; she’s always been someone who always accepted me for who I am, and has always been such a good friend. We arrived late, but were able to sneak a couple of seats in the back of the room while the first poet was reading from her book of poems. All the poets were lovely in their own way. Jen and I had our favourites.

It wasn’t until the second break that I told Jen I was thinking of going up. I didn’t have a reaction when I told her. That was progress. I also didn’t have a reaction when I went up to the front to sign-up. More progress. There were three people in total to sign up for the open mic component that night. I was to go last.

The first was a man who had memorized his own poem, and performed it with such conviction it could only be described as art. The second was an older lady who was part of a trio of older women who wrote poems together; she was endearing, and her poem heart-warming. Every time one of them stepped up to the microphone, my heart raced and my upper body would get really hot. I used my meditation breathing to bring my heart-rate down. It worked, temporarily, every time. More progress.

What impressed me the most was that when it was my turn to step up to the microphone, I was able to ignore the fact that my chest was burning, my heart was racing, and that my fingers were shaking so much for long enough to provide whoever was listening with a very small introduction about myself, and – better yet – to read the whole poem. It helped that the audience was kind, and that I announced that I have stage fright. It also helped that I picked a very short poem.

I’m proud of myself for being able to do that. I’m not sure how often I’ll do it, but I like the idea that maybe with enough practice I’ll actually be able to sing in public without doubting myself too.

  1. you don’t want to go blind after all []