I used to be incredibly volatile.
As a teenager I would have random outbursts. I oscillated between unbearable sadness and uncontrollable rage. I went from being on the verge of tears to searing hot flashes of anger in a heartbeat. I was a tsunami of destruction, lashing out at everyone, leaving nothing but pain in my wake. I hated seeing the way people around me suffered, but I didn’t know how to stop. The turmoil inside of me needed to find a way out – and the judgement and criticism I fired at them was nothing compared to the hostility I felt toward myself.
Growing up I was argumentative, but I was also articulate. “Because I said so,” was never enough to satisfy my enquiring mind and I would launch into hour long tirades about the injustice of not being allowed to sleepover at a friends house or go to a party.
I signed myself up for debating in year seven and loved coming up with counter arguments to highlight the flaws in the oppositions case.
When I was twelve, I didn’t agree with a new development project being built on native bushland in the suburb next door so I gathered a group of my closest friends and made a documentary about the danger to local wildlife. Construction went ahead (shocking) and months later when we went for a family lunch at the site, I made a scene and refused to get out of the car.
I never shied away from confrontation and I was always the first to speak my mind when something didn’t sit well with me.
And then suddenly I discovered it wasn’t okay for me to be angry or argumentative anymore. My outbursts were met with condescension; Don’t be such a drama queen or derision, What are you PMS-ing or something? I learnt that anger was unfeminine, and being loveable usually meant being agreeable.
As a society we are uncomfortable with anger in women, quick to label them “hormonal” or “crazy” and we are afraid of anger in our men. Generally speaking, men’s anger manifests outward as violence and mass destruction. Women on the other hand, turn their fury inward where it becomes self hatred, self criticism, self harm. We suppress our anger and bury our frustration beneath layers of decorum, in an attempt to be peaceful, calm, together, poised. We internalise our fury, either waiting to deal with it when we’re alone or never dealing with it at all.
And yet anger is the siren call of injustice, alerting us to the places in our lives and in our world that need to change. The fiery anger of a woman is one of the most powerful forces on the planet. The fierce exasperation of a woman scorned, a mother threatened, a goddess wronged, is what sparks revolutions and ignites fires of transformation.
“She is not a nag, she is an oracle.”
When I started on this journey of personal growth, I thought that meant renouncing anger all together. I went from having random outbursts to keeping everything to myself, breathing through the knots in my stomach and saving passionate rants for my journal. Fast forward a few years and I have come to realise that keeping everything bottled up is just as dangerous as lashing out, and anger – when used correctly – can be an incredible power source.
The rage we feel stems from our inability to accept things the way they are. And that’s a beautiful thing, because it means we are acutely aware of what needs to change. The challenge is re-directing the anger from ourselves – where it manifests as self-destruction – and using it to destroy the systems and structures that no longer serve the world. We need to give ourselves permission to feel angry, upset, frustrated. From these emotions stems radical acts of bravery, kindness and unconditional love.
We need to harness our anger and use it to change the world.
What makes you so angry you could scream? Below the petty surface drama of your boyfriend’s sloppiness or your bosses inadequacy, what are you really mad about? Misogyny? Inequality? Apathy? Dishonesty?
Stop apologising for your outbursts, as though you have no right to feel enraged. Dig deep into the knots in your stomach and unravel them with an oration of truth. Rant if you must, destroy what no longer serves the world and then in the wake of your destruction, rebuild with honest intentions.
“Little fierce hearts get called stubborn, argumentative, loud, obnoxious and out of control. They smash through boundaries and continuously answer back. Little fierce hearts are changing the world, they need to question everything, including your authority…They are the force of raging flames and it is our job to direct those flames without extinguishing the fire.”
When your daughter yells, let her. Don’t tell her to quiet down or worse still, laugh at her attempt to dispel the fire raging within her – because I promise you she will turn it on herself. When your son screams, give him the wide open space to express his disgust at the state of the world. Their anger is a gift. Teach them to wield it skilfully, direct it accurately and stoke it regularly, and that fire will save the world.
All my love,