what's underneath anger

Historically, I haven't done anger.  And I don't mean that I haven't done it well, I mean I hadn't done it at all.  It's not my favorite emotion.  It's not one that I'm comfortable expressing.  It's not even one that I'm comfortable having.  It's taken quite a bit of my adult life to develop a healthy relationship with it and, just like most things, as soon as I think I've got it I realize that I still have a long way to go.

Anger came up as a big theme for me a few years ago.  I had just gotten back together with my husband after a period of separation, initiated by me, and when I went to the doctor for a battery of STD screenings to make sure it was safe to get busy without protection I was surprised with a positive test for Hepatitis C (which is rarely transmitted sexually, by the way, so no one really knows why they tested for it at all, except for maybe the folks up in the sky orchestrating the universe and my life lessons).  They retested me in case it was a false positive (it wasn't) and sent me to a specialist who was booked for months.  In the interim I ran to my trusty chiropractor/naturopath's office to get cured the legitimate way. *wink*  She suggested she go see someone I had seen before: a bioreprogramming therapist who specializes in how our brains' programs effect our physical health.  To the bioreprogrammer I went and there I learned that our liver is associated with anger...

Ew.  I thought.  That's not me.  I don't get angry.  What could anger possibly have to do with what's going on in my body?  I never get angry!  Never!  NEVER!

Turns out.  Everyone gets angry... even me.  And when those of us who don't know how to feel or express it keep it buried inside it takes up residence in our liver.

In this case my brand of anger was "rancor": malicious resentfulness or hostility; spite.  And as soon as she defined it that way I knew what it was and where it came from.  I had no absence of rancor towards my husband or his family.  I didn't want to die, or turn yellow... so I allowed myself to feel anger... rancor.  The bioreprogrammer helped me process through it and predicted that if I was retested for Hepatitis C in 6 months that the tests would be completely negative.  No trace of anything ever having been abnormal.

To prepare for my meeting with the liver specialist I had to get a new set of tests done.  When I was sitting in his office a few months later for our first appointment I learned that my test results were 100% normal and as far as he could tell there was no reason for me to be there.  There hasn't been a recurrence since.

For the past several years I have been walking around believing that I had this anger thing down.  I get angry all the time.  Sometimes I even yell at people (from the safe confines of my car or my head)!

Yeah... that's not really mastering anger.

Anger has started coming up again lately... I went back to the trusty naturopath for a checkup and found out that I had a liver toxicity that needed clearing up (liver!  ding ding!  anger!  ding ding! go the alarms in my head).  Then last week in writing class another student said about my piece "you sounded very angry."  Which I didn't agree with or appreciate hearing so I got pretty pissed about that too.  It didn't help that I was already pissed at her saying that the persona in one of my other pieces (who is also me, I pretty much only write about me) was selfish, manipulative and had no self control.  Grrrrr...

In therapy last week I figured I'd get my money's worth so I plopped down in the chair and started talking about my relationship with anger.  In a moment's time I had learned that:
notes from therapy.

  1. I get angry when I think I look stupid
  2. I find "looking stupid" (or unreliable, loud, bossy, annoying, selfish, manipulative, not possessing of self control, etc) to be the worst possible scenario on the planet
  3. I also get angry when people fuck with my kid (apparently this is natural and healthy--yay!)
In describing my relationship to these states of being and why I was so opposed to appearing "selfish or manipulative" or not having any "self control" I found myself saying (and this is a direct quote because my therapist had me write it down and I'm transcribing it off the paper right now):

I don't want to ever give anyone a reason to know me for anything but my brilliant selflessness

And as much as I know how unhealthy that sounds... I also love the way it sounds.  It represents a huge part of me.  It represents this persona I carry inside, who learned to take the reigns many, many years ago and has perfected the craft of managing my life so that most people only do know me for that (or at least she is tricked into believing they do.  turns out they also see my yucky stuff and they still love me anyway)!  

I got the spend the rest of my therapy session honoring her for her contributions and then collaborating with her about how we are going to deal with the inevitable beasts of anger, impulsiveness, selfishness, and manipulation.  It's good to have an inner producer.  Especially a really good one.  *smirk*