THE RIDE OF ANGER
★ ★ ★ ★
By Erinbell Fanore
A soap bubble. Glimmering in the sunlight. Inside are a thousand butterflies. Pale yellow beings fluttering madly. Without space and with a hell of a lot of energy. They want out, but they are hiding someone, something. With the busyness of their delicate wings they’re doing their best to cover up a purple dragon trapped in the bubble with them.
They are afraid of the dragon’s clumsiness. Dragons don’t get their weight and size. They are always accidentally swinging their tails behind them knocking out a village, or sneezing too loudly and burning up a forest or a bird’s nest. They hurt people’s feelings when they don’t mean to. They break things.
I grew up in a middle-class suburb of Vancouver, Canada. I had a safe, comfortable upbringing with a good education and lots of freedom. My divorced parents loved me dearly. I grew up aware of how fortunate I was. And yet there were parts of me that felt stifled under the normal-ness of it all. There was a loud angry melodramatic part of me, who any time she reared her head, was shamed. How could you? Look at what you have. You are so blessed.
So I learned to control my anger and it faded from vibrancy to a dullness. I toned down my over-dramatic side. This was harder. And I am sure many people who know me would be surprised to hear there is any muting of my ‘dramatic-ness’. I took these new habits of mine as part of the growing-up process.
But now thirty years later, I am questioning this choice and learned behavior.
In my yoga classes, I teach how in Chinese medicine there are no right or wrong, no good or bad emotions. Emotions need to flow. What is unhealthy is ignoring or suppressing our feelings. I teach how as we age, we need more energy to keep the bottled-up emotions from escaping because with each year we live we add more. We do this all subconsciously, but we feel its effects. We lose vitality and energy. We use up so much energy inside, we have less to take in what’s going on around us.
What if I can help create space in my inner world, for all my conflicting impermanent emotions? Regardless of whether they are understandable or unfounded. A chance to let what’s in me be felt.
I pop the bubble. A thousand butterflies fly make space around me becoming more colorful with each flap. I look at the baby dragon: purple, chubby and with big nervous eyes. She grows and grows and grows. Eventually the only way to see her is from a plane’s perspective. I see a massive purple Disney style dragon lying over many green farm fields.
“Hi.” I greet, “What’s your story?”
She tells me her history, moments we have shared, moments I thought best forgotten, moments I didn’t realize I still held on to. After she feels listened to, I ask her if there is anything she would like to let go of. Then I watch as her puffed-up blubber skin opens and peels off. The purple cutesy shine melts away like acid and she emerges. A fierce black dragon. She is both made of glass, cutting and cold, and of sleek pulsating muscle. Strong. Powerful. Ugly and so beautifully fascinating. Full of anger and life and guts and creativity. Fully accepting of her dragon-ness.
I look at her in awe and know that she is a vital part of myself. Not to be masked in a bubble or covered over with delicate feminine flutterings. She is my capacity for anger, for wild dancing, for poetry, and for living sensually moment to moment.
My anger is unpleasant. I grew up learning that smiles go a long way. Happiness will make the world better, or if not, at least more comfortable. I learned quickly and easily that being good can be very fruitful. But there is more to me than smiles. There is a depth and a level of authenticity I would miss out on if I don’t let this fierce dragon in me have space.
By ignoring my anger I miss out on its purpose, how it is there to serve me and keep me safe. Anger arises when we feel that something, either ourselves, our loved ones, or what we care about, is mistreated or threatened. Instead of immediately lashing out, giving it space can offer more effective and creative ways to meet the threat. Sometimes pausing and letting in the sensations shows us that there is no outer threat, that it is an internal battle. Anger can be a protective tool that masks our fear, hurt, or sadness.
As I sit with my anger, I feel a part of me that is nervous. What will happen if I really let myself feel all that is in me? Will I accidentally swipe out a friendship with my tail? In my enthusiasm will I crash? And if I do, will that be okay?
Another part of me is cheering, “Go for it! It’ll be the wild roller-coaster ride you have been secretly longing for. You have the strength and passion for it. You also now have more maturity and an awareness of others. Some bumps and scratches will happen but that’s ok.”
I don’t know if I have enough courage, but I will try to find my way. I will dance like crazy. I will drink whiskey and write by candle light. I will sit and meditate and witness what arises. Sometimes unintentionally my dragon tail will make a mess of things. But I think messiness suits me better than containment.
I do not want to live a life of convention. A life of trying to accept that everything is okay, where cuts get appeased instead of acknowledged for their sting. A life of trying to keep everything in balance, even, safe. Life is a complicated chaotic mix of relationships and energies and I want to celebrate my diversity. The more I can sit with my anger or any other neglected emotions, the more I will be able to sit with these emotions in others and connect. Through this I will become lighter with age, not more burdened.
Therefore, for better for worse, for richer, for poorer, I vow now to love and to cherish all facets of myself till death us do us part.
So hello dragon, my angry creative beast, let’s go for a ride or two or more.
Erinbell Fanore was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada. She holds a Bachelors of Theatre from York University (Toronto), Canada and a Masters of Theatre from University College Cork, Ireland. Erinbell is also a 500 hours Yoga Alliance certified yoga teacher. She has been teaching yoga and mediation full time since 2007 and continues to write and direct. http://www.yinyogaberlin.de