I came home seething mad.
The whole bike ride from work I could feel something powerful. A slow warmth seemed to spread the faster I pedaled. I was listening to my regular music and podcasts and nothing obvious was instigating this sensation. Ironically, the harder I pushed myself on the bike path the more intense the warmth became. This surge of powerful energy kept rising. I didn’t think much about it, as I notice some version of this on most Fridays. I was forward thinking to the burrito I would purchase and the Doctor Who I was going to watch. These are exciting thoughts to me. But this time the energy was more intense than usual.
By the time I got to my condo building, I was exhausted. I paused for a few seconds at the bottom of the back stairwell soaking wet. Then I hoisted the bike on my shoulders and climbed four flights. I arrived at the top and dropped the bike down with a bang against the wooden deck. Took off my helmet, released the dog, scratched the cat, and stood in the kitchen dripping and breathing hard.
Then I realized – this intense feeling was anger!
I wasn’t just a little fired up like when I find my cat has peed on clothing I left on my bedroom floor. No, I was seeing red. Energy was bursting through my wrists and I wanted to destroy stuff. Which is kind of a cool feeling, by the way. It’s powerful and masculine and if you start shadowboxing the air, will definitely be impressive to any nearby females. I’ve had three fall to their knees and clutch my shins in admiration just this month!
Note – As I reread that last sentence I see how it may be misinterpreted as hanky panky. God, the expression “hanky panky” is funny. Good song, too. Also, it should be noted for my girlfriend that no ladies approach and fall to the knees grabbing at me for protection. No dudes, either.
I couldn’t believe it but my body had switched from exhausted to energized. Since I’ve been learning how to sit with feelings I used to run from, what occurred to me was to stay present with the anger. I quickly tried to figure out what I was angry about and nothing came. There wasn’t any obvious event that had transpired to push my buttons. This made it easier to stay with the anger. If I realize I’m going to punch a hole in the drywall because I miscalculated the number of Fresca’s left in the ‘fridge, well, that seems a little extreme. I talk myself down from that sort of nonsense.
I decided to roll with this madness and have some fun. I stomped around the house, tossed a few hard punches in the air, and even screamed like a rabid animal. All of this was done within thirty seconds. Then the anger went away.
I examined what had happened to locate any meaning and found nothing. That was even more exciting to me. My body got angry for no obvious reason and I went with it! Then it went away! And I hung in there with it and didn’t shame myself for feeling it! I have probably done this a total of seven times in my life. I’m not used to handling tough feelings.
Anger is incredibly important to my well-being. I never learned growing up how to experience it without shaming myself. While anger is normal, it’s rarely logical. Even when I know why I’m angry, it always seems to be an overreaction. And many times it is. But anger is used to effectively defend emotional and physical boundaries, and it works well. Like any other muscle, however, it needs practice.
What I have found is that feelings come and go in a beautiful and and random dance. Sometimes sadness overwhelms. Or fear. Shame knocks me to the ground. Anger makes me want to kill the world. All of these are normal instances. Learning how to stay with them and not run is the tricky part.
I’ve been afraid of my anger because I assume I’m going to hurt something or somebody. Except I never actually have. By letting it run its short course, I find that it processes quickly and then disappears into the ether.
So, I’m encouraging you to help me get more practice with anger. Call me the c-word. Tell me my beautiful hair is effeminate. Make fun of my lame author photo where I’m obviously trying to look tough. Tell me how cool it is that you think I live in and write about Paris, France. Do your worst!