The practice of discernment between rage and my healthy roar is a deep learning for my body. I am a survivor of multiple generations of rage that resulted directly in verbal and physical abuse. Rage is defined as uncontrollable anger and is a part of our humanity. Rage herself is not a demon; she is a powerful change bringer. She has her place in our world and she can be the critical precursor to the healthy space clearing required for deep collective grief that brings lasting progress. Collective rage can act as the equivalent of a forest fire burning down all in its path and creating the opportunity for new growth, a new beginning. As powerful as rage is, she deserves a safe and supported space to be held. At this point I’d argue that our rage deserves the support of professionals/communities that know how to hold this sacred space of transformation. Rage represents the final boundary crossed. The final shove at our spirit’s chest that sends us into full blown kill or be killed neurobiology. This is a different sort of roar yet she shares space in our bodies with anger and can create confusion in communication with our children and loved ones when our embodied need to protect/defend is activated.
My personal rage reminds me of a flame thrower. Put simply, I don’t want my child on the wrong end of my being when its throwing flames. Step one for me is knowing and owning as a human being I am capable of rage. And here’s the tough part, I get to own my rage without an ounce of shame nor guilt… Shame can act like gasoline on the flames of rage. This is such a tough place on its own and has taken me years to work through. Can I simply and cleanly say, I am capable of rage? Can I clean up the places in the past where my rage has burned down loved ones without whipping myself with the guilt stick? Again, this is not an easy task. And, this is the very necessary precursor work to regaining my healthy embodied roar.
The second step has been learning the signals of my body. Rage in my body feels like: a rush of actual fire down my arms, extremely hard to get a deep breath, my heart pounds, my hearing and sight are both altered as the strongest dose of adrenaline my body can create moves through me, again kill or be killed type of activation. Because of the survival mode I lived in throughout childhood, rage was initially a well-oiled pathway in my neurology to simply survive. It’s changing now as I have learned to stand for myself and remove the active abuse from my life.
When I sense this internal fire, my first step is move physically away from anyone that I do not want to get flames on. Sometimes I will even speak out loud, “I am not neuro-regulating!” This helps others know that my asking for space is for their protection because I am on actual neurological fire. These steps are where mindfulness practices come in. To be able to witness myself from the high watch and make intelligent choices despite my mind/body being on fire is the result of years of embodiment work. It didn’t just happen by magic or because I said I wanted it to happen. I have rolled up my sleeves, dug in and been practicing awareness and particularly I’ve been practicing sensing my body through a committed conscious dance practice. In the presence of huge emotions like rage, the work pays off. I know my body and I love her. I know these sensations that indicate rage potentials are a LOUD call for me to come home to myself, and only myself. I cannot hold anybody else in this space. And yes, wouldn’t it be lovely if I never felt this way, if my childhood had been different, if life just wasn’t so fuggin hard, yes all true AND this is my real life. The good news is this, it gets easier with practice. And beautifully, rage visits less often once she’s been heard and held. It was in the space where rage had become less common, I was safely able to transition into the exploration of embodied anger.
A different kind of roar! More to come soon on embodied anger….