Ways to accept and release anger.

I have always been tough. Strong if you feel the need to label it. I have a crusty outer shell which I have used for four decades to protect the soft gooey version of self. Most people who have experienced trauma as a child often do have outer layer crust as their defence mechanism.

No one wants or chooses to feel vulnerable. Or do they?

Right now what’s important is that I can acknowledge that outer crust for what it is — it’ just the old story I tell myself to keep me safe. That crusty festering defence mechanism has served me well. To a point. 

That crust has cost me dearly as well, for you see I have shut down access to my heart space in order to allow my head to rule my world. It’s now time to re-arrange who gets to sit at the head of the table.

One of the fundamental things I acknowledge moving forward in my healing journey is I don’t have to fix either the crust or the internal goo all at once. 

The practitioner within me understands this logically. My nice girl is wondering when the fuck I will feel better and can shed the old skin.

 

Acknowledgement of your stuff is the first step to healing.

 

I am working with my therapist regarding a recent shitty experience. There is a myriad of emotions that have caused shockwaves out of that catastrophic explosion, and the practitioner within me is reminding myself not to deal with everything all at once. 

Just breathe honey, is a phrase I am telling myself a lot lately.

In a recent session with my therapist, we were working through aspects of my self confessed escalating anger and linking with snippets I had previously disclosed from my past. During this discussion, I felt antsy like I could punch something, and there have been times in my past that I did hit things to feel better. A battered old punching bag in a boxing gym comes to mind. 

During this discussion, I had an epiphany after being assisted to connect all the dots.

My lightbulb moment highlighted how I was being too considerate and reasonable. My good girl was trying not to rock the boat. I felt deeply conflicted.

On one hand, my good girl was a quivering mess and wanted to avoid confrontation at all costs.

On the other hand, my mean girl wanted to punch someone with a baseball bat, which left with an internal conflict that boiled and bubbled away much like a witches cauldron on Halloween. There is something primal about releasing negative energy through purposeful movements, like punching a sports bag.

I was dancing around that witches pot, avoiding making contact with either the anger or the mean one, and the good girl was in hiding. Neither is pleasant to deal with and have always left me feeling spent after going a few rounds in the ring.

But here’s the thing I realised, I knew who I was mad at, but presently can’t make them accountable for the incident. I am left holding the responsibility of the trauma caused by the incident — rather than those who are responsible for my violation.

My therapist called me on that shit and pushed me about why I was afraid of the mean girl coming out of the closet. I told her I didn’t like how being the mean girl made me feel. 

The mean girl makes me aggressive and wants to win at all costs. White anger flows through her veins and she loses her shit. And that was the crux of the situation, I didn’t like it then and don’t like it now when I lose control. It makes me want to vomit and crawl into the corner of the room and hide.

I realised at that moment that my mean girl is holding onto her own trauma for me to acknowledge and deal with.

 


 

Let’s backtrack a little for some perspective. 

As a teenager, I had competed in various karate and kickboxing events. My coach would repeatedly train my good girl on proper technique. But come fight day that same coach would invite my mean girl into the ring by saying ‘unleash the beast”. 

My mean girl was an undefeated age champion. The good girl would help pick people up off the floor of the fight ring.

I once worked at a nightclub when I was first out of high school and attending university. I wasn’t a nice girl (with big boobs) behind the bar. Noooo, sir. I was a bouncer at the front door. 

I was a boss bitch mean girl who didn’t take shit from anyone. I was five foot two inches of seemingly harmless ‘girl with a ponytail’, with an attitude that could make Mike Tyson’s balls run home to his mommy. I didn’t take shit from anyone. And my boss loved that fact.

What I realise now is that both my coach and the club boss exploited my internal fire and taught me to use my unresolved childhood anger as my power. At the time I thought I was being useful and worthy. I thought to have any form of power I had to remain in that hate fire space, so I adopted that persona. 

Incorporating this hard exterior toughened me, much like forming an outer crust. This inability to release anger caused me to disconnect from compassion for self and others.

The first professional serious job I worked as an enforcement officer with a government department because I had an environmental science and chemistry background. I’m qualified for drugs, bombs and waste! 

The mean girl was the first female delegated informant in that organisation. The good girl is an academic and a bit of a nerd and completed the detective course. The mean girl could make any grown man cry in about three minutes as her words cut like the sharpest sabre. The good girl was left with an impeccable record and later became an auditor.

Whilst the mean girl persona provided me short term satisfaction having power over others, the good girl would always cringe — because that is how her father used to yell at her and she remembered how debilitating, broken and shattered she would feel. 

My former government boss would often send me out onto a tough job. Instead of using my feminine wiles (ie compassion), he would threaten the client with me as the bad cop. I was the only female in the enforcement team, and I easily fit in as ‘one of the boys’. I could swear better than most of them, and I had an attitude to boot. I was too eager for appraisal since I never got it as a kid. I was younger and shorter than everyone else and most clients were unassuming of me. That was before they met my mean girl.

 


 

Getting back to my aha moment with my therapist. The deeper we picked at various historical points of my timeline, she pieced together that I had been using my mean girl as a shield to protect my inner child, my vulnerability. That was something I protected at all costs because it’s a sign of ultimate weakness to show your belly to the enemy.

And yet in the situation I was working through with my therapist, I very soon realised my unresolved anger was the enemy. The therapist gave me some very specific homework.

The pattern that I am breaking down is the fear to be vulnerable or out of control

Fear is a funny thing, but not funny har har. It has subliminal power, in that it can activate your entire sympathetic nervous system (flight or fight) without conscious thought. You can be triggered by your senses to put you into that fear-based state.

My homework was to communicate with my mean girl. I had to revoke her place from the head of the table. In fact, I decided I needed to ask her to leave the room altogether. 

Before mean girl left the building I did meditation. I used to breathe to ground myself. I slowed my breathing and gave myself permission to enter my heart space, where my intuition lies.

In my heart space, I imagined a beautiful safe room with two chairs. I gave my imagination permission to get creative. I pictured myself in one and invited my mean girl to sit in the other. 

It was this point that I had a gorgeous encounter with my mean girl. Instead of telling her to fuck off, I asked her why she was mean. She had good reasons and I simply sat and listened and allowed her sacred space to use her voice. 

The story of what she told me is for another day. But I can say this. As she spoke and expressed out her stuff my body began to relax and soften. I could feel the mean girl’s hurt and anger dissipating with each and every breath. 

At the end of this meditation, I permitted my good girl to forgive the mean aspects my psyche had generated to once keep me safe. We embraced for such a long time and I experienced a deep-seated serenity. 

Prior to leaving my heart space in this meditation, I realised at the end of the meditation that my mean girl had merged with the good. We were one again.

I thanked my guides and returned to a conscious state once more. Calmer and armed with a truckload of information about old reactive patterns. 

After that meditation, I journaled out the experience. Therefore I was able to connect with the feelings and then let them go.

I am sharing my experience in the hope that you too can change who sits at the head of your mental health table.

 

If you’re struggling to express out your anger here’s a couple of tips

 

  • Write a fuck you letter

  • speak out to someone you can trust

  • pound the bed with a pillow or pool noodle

  • break old plates

  • scream into a pillow or in the shower

  • punch the bag

  • dance it out

  • get therapy

  • join a help group

We all have stuff. Every single one of us on this planet experiences things which are joyous or traumatic. In my experience I have found, hanging onto the trauma weighs me down and makes me sick. So I choose to let go and bloom from within.