I Will Rage I Will Rage I Will Rage

July 27, 2010

People often asked me if I was angry at John. Many people in my life were angry at John for me (and I know they tried their best to conceal it, out of respect for me). I don’t blame them. I think if I were in their shoes I would be angry on their behalf.How could he do this to her? I imagined they were saying amongst themselves.

And yes, I did ask that question. How could he do this to me? Wasn’t I enough of a reason for him to stay? If he really loved me he would have stayed. How could he be so selfish? I never thought I would be in this situation. I did not sign up for this. How is this my life? What am I going to do with my life now?

Yes my mind was wracked with questions, day and night; trying to make sense of a warped reality that makes no sense. But was I angry at John? Yes, but also no. Since I understand this longing to die, to return home, and since I have gone through many many hard struggles with depression and I have lived most of my life in the dark, I understood what he was going through. I understand the constricted mind state, the tunnel vision that someone who wants to kill themselves experiences. It’s truly black and it’s truly numb. You can’t even fathom that anyone else would care if you were gone because you simply have stopped feeling anything that even remotely resembles love. It isn’t selfish like most people think, it is the only self-preserving option that a person can even fathom in that moment. To kill oneself, and I mean to actually do it and die, takes more courage than we could even imagine. Our brains and our systems are wired to take every possible precaution against death. So to willingly counter all of this biological conditioning, is a tremendous feat and speaks to the depths of someone’s pain, suffering, and longing to get out.

For me, it was most important that I practice being happy that John was no longer in pain. It was a relief to know he was in joy and need not suffer another second longer. I had to come to a place where I would prefer his freedom and joy over my selfish need for him to stay on Earth in order to alleviate my pain. I would never want to enslave him in his suffering just on my behalf. So my task at hand was to keep digging and healing until I could genuinely accept the choice he had made and be ok with things as they are, no matter how horrendous everything felt. I was mostly angry at the universe and enraged that this was my life. How could this be my path in life? It was too hard, too lonely, and I resented the challenge. Why was I the only 29 year old I knew having to deal with this kind of tragedy while everyone else was happily coupled up or in the process of happily coupling up? There had to be some f*ing reason, because to say it f*ing sucked is the understatement of the year.

People often told me, “Sarah, you need to allow yourself to be angry at him.” And I was like, sure ok. How do I do that when I’m just not feeling that angry right now? Yes, I was angry at John. I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t. My anger at him flared up most often when I was mourning the death of all the  dreams I had had for our future. Those were the ones that killed me.

As a psychologist I understand that anger is a “normal and natural stage of grief.” It comes up whether we like it or not, sometimes in the most unexpected ways. But to normalize it like this, is to miss the point. This is not your ordinary, run of the mill anger. It’s a rage that’s summoned up from another dimension, it’s a possession really. Thunderbolts and lightning do not do it justice.  Feeling my anger, really f*ing feeling it, and embodying it was/is essential for my healing, integration, and acceptance. My biggest breakthroughs happened through my rage. It was through my rage, every time, that I found more and more strength to go on.

Another psychologist-ism I hear a lot was: ” The only way out is though.” Now this one, as annoying and clichéd as it might sound, is very very true. Grieving is a crazy journey. Mad. Insane. This kind of grief is a transformation process.The shell has been cracked, and something new is emerging. If you go in there and live it, experience it like your life depends on it (and it does) I guarantee that when you pop out the other side of it, you will be different. You will feel things in new ways and experience life with a perspective you never thought possible.  You might not want to hear it, you might not see it or believe it, and you certainly don’t want it, but I invite you to feel it as fully as you can. Your power is in there; how can you claim it? Get what’s rightfully yours.

This is a little section from my book, Love You Like the Sky. Maybe I didn’t show people my anger on a regular basis, and that’s why they told me to be angry. But hell, I had anger. I had all consuming, fire breathing anger. And lots of it.

Date: December 8th, 2009

Subject: Prison

Dear John,

It was dark on that Sunday afternoon in February. I’d been huddled in the fetal position, missing you, for hours.  Tears and mucus covered my face. At some point I just couldn’t take the ruthless pain and longing anymore. I started getting angry at myself for being trapped and not being able to do a damn thing to be with you. I wanted out. I wanted to get the fuck out of my body. You know that feeling. I wanted to get the fuck out of my life and have the nightmare end already. But I couldn’t. There was nothing to do other than be with the goddamn pain, and I couldn’t take it anymore.

I wanted to exhale my venom. I needed to smoke. I had quit smoking three years earlier when I was 27 and moved out to California. It was a habit I started when I was 18, and I loved it. Suddenly, while lying on the couch I needed a cigarette. I wanted to feel the burn of inhaling smoke into my lungs, I needed take my anger out, on myself. The very idea of it gave me a surge of energy, and I stormed out of my apartment in a crazed rage. My hair was a mess, and my eyes were lifeless from so much crying. I could barely see. I got in my car, blasted whatever music was on the radio, and drove like a madwoman to the nearest convenience store. Camel lights, I murmured.

With pack in hand, I sped to an abandoned lot, out of place on a quiet residential street. It looked like a ghost yard, overgrown with weeds and a single weeping willow tree. Perfect for my first cigarette of hate and anger. I climbed to the top of a large pile of wet mulch and dead leaves. I sat down and took pleasure in the filth. And as I smoked my cigarette in the dark, I glared wickedly at the night around me and the ghosts I couldn’t see but knew were there. Fuck you all.

How did my curses feel John? Probably nothing compared to what I was feeling. Or then again, maybe you felt what I felt. My sweatpants were wet, but I didn’t give a shit about the mulch and the bugs and the dirt. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, I yelled. I wanted to do something violent. But what? I was angry at my life and at the universe. There was nothing and no one to attack. I wanted to grip the earth high above my head and smash it into concrete, shattering it into a million pieces. The only target for my rage was myself.  My self-destructive tendencies were boiling to the surface once again. I’d kept them quiet for so many years. I tried to be the good girl and crush the drug use and smoking. But now I wanted to get fucked up. I wanted to blow my mind up with  something violent. I wanted to destroy something. I wanted to destroy myself. This is what your death march to the train might have felt like. Destruction and explosion in a mass collision of steel, track, and body. Bang.

The truth was I knew I wasn’t going to do anything. I still had self-control and that was just as maddening. The least I could do was express my anger by smoking and slowly poisoning myself. I prayed for an early death. It was deeply satisfying to breathe in fire and exhale smoke, as my body transformed the elements. I was taming the rage flowing through my veins with nicotine.

[*** I know mentioning cigarettes is usually a big turn off, and since I have mentioned them quite a few times on this site, I would just like the record to state that I do not endorse smoking or not smoking, and I have long since stopped smoking. (In case you might want to also- here’s the Magic Formula for how  🙂 )]


2 Responses to “I Will Rage I Will Rage I Will Rage”

  1. John said

    I loved this entry. So powerful and raw. Part of me wishes I had come across this a year ago when I was literally consumed with my anger. Another part of me is thankful and respects the idea that it came at just the perfect time.
    My mother used to say “Depression is anger turned inward”. I have always been resistant to anger. My thinking was; I would rather bear the brunt of pain then to pass it on to someone else. I didn’t – and sometimes still don’t – realize that it is o.k. for anger to be felt and expressed. Not only is it o.k., it is a perfectly natural part of life (but me – spiritual being – can transcend human emotions… lol… it is an oxymoron… no? me-spiritual being?).
    I too was consumed with anger and for all the reasons you stated (I love how you are able to express things I have felt but can barely express in my own words, let alone to the world). I was so F*&%$ing angry at myself and at God. How could spirit abandon me? Did I do this to myself? I had been living a beautiful life – filled with love and abundance. Then it ALL came crashing down. I truly felt like I was being punished. In fact, I still believe that the MANY loses (a whole series of losses, like dominoes falling) I experienced over the course of that year were intended. By me? By God? – I don’t know. It definitely seemed orchestrated in some way.
    I was depressed as depressed can be. I was a walking corpse. Every day for two years I thought of suicide (their might have been few moments/days where it subsided to the background, but for the most part, it was on my mind and in my heart on a daily basis). I kept trying to fill the darkness with love, forgiveness and faith, but it did not work. It only seemed to create a divide within my own being. I could no longer “spiritualize” it away. I kept trying to avoid or rather “rise above” the pain and it only left me completely out of touch with myself. My mind, body and spirit were completely disheveled and disjointed.
    I eventually became consumed with my anger (though it looked more like depression). I couldn’t sleep, I had eating problems, I started smoking again, etc… I was taking my anger out on myself. Finally I began to allow the rage to come forward. I had no choice. It had been suppressed and turned inward and was at a breaking point. I was so disappointed in myself for feeling this anger (this is one way your blog is helping me soooo much. I am breaking the idea that I have to be the “perfect” spiritual disciple. I am still warming up to the idea that I can be a beautiful person, even with my sadness and anger). It made me sad when I could no longer provide the support and compassion for others that I once had (I was a Massage Therapist for many years and lost my job due to the economic circumstances at that time. It fulfilled me in so many ways and was part of my spiritual practice. I also lost my ability to continue my education at USM for “Spiritual Psychology and thus my support system as well. In addition, my spirit was so dim, that my ability to see the beauty in life and uplift those I came in contact with and loved, was completely stifled).
    So I surrendered to the pain and the anger. I think this was vital for my healing and to be honest – I had little choice. Part of my spiritual path had advocated this, but doing it and reading about it are two different things – especially when I was going through the absolute, most painful period in my life (which all came crashing down during the most fulfilling and abundant time in my life!). On the other hand, I believed that our world was created – in part – by our minds. So if I could just see the beauty in the situation, then I could basically (without thinking of it in quite this way) avoid the depth of pain I was being pulled to experience – the gravity of the experience. If I could trust and see the beauty of my situation, then I could be happy. LOL… that wasn’t the lesson I needed to learn! I still don’t know what exactly that lesson is, but I know it wasn’t about “thinking” my way out of it. My life sucked and there was no way around that. I could continue to have faith and trust that it would get better (which was absolutely impossible at the time), but I had to accept the idea that in this moment, my life was filled with loss, pain, rejection, judgment and a whole list of other “negative” realities and emotions.
    There is a great book called “Start Where You Are” by Pema Chodron. Even though I read this book years before, I didn’t realize at the time, that this is what I needed to do. Start with my anger, start with my sadness. I couldn’t skip over it with beautiful or inspiring thoughts. I had to accept that my life was a heaping pile of hot, stinky, shit and the fact that I was deep in it. Once I began to accept my situation and my true feelings about it, I was able to begin to put the pieces of my life back together. The hardest and scariest part about it was (and in many ways still is) not understanding why this happened. I know that on some level I have to be responsible for what happened (if not for the actual events, then for my soul’s journey to experience and be a witness or part of these circumstances). On the other hand, I was completely humbled – realizing that there is a force much greater than my own (a metaphor would be vacationing on the beach and suddenly a tsunami destroys everything around) that may perhaps be indifferent to my personal feelings and desires. Either way, it is a hard pill to swallow. How do I trust life again? How do I have faith in myself? In life? How do I shed this fear and pain and find the “perfect vulnerability” I once advocated? Did I bring this on myself? Did Spirit do this to me? Does it care? Should I care about the many things I have been striving to achieve, to embrace, to share over the last two decades? Does it really matter if I do good things? Is this a lesson to show me that I had expectations around all the good things I did for others? Is this a test? Am I failing? Am I passing? Does it matter?… Does it matter?… Does it matter?… Will it happen again? Why … why… why… ? What is the meaning? I need to know the meaning! Please do not tell me there is none… please.
    I cannot say I have the answers to many if not all of those questions. I am slightly less confused as I was then. To pretend I know the answers, I fear, might be setting me up for more disillusionment. One thing I do know is that I am most fulfilled when I embrace and trust life. I may not have the answers, I may find myself facing difficult circumstances again, but if I can find a way to embrace this life while I am here, then I will be a much happier person. That means accepting and even embracing the pain and heartache as well. Otherwise, I will become a corpse – empty and scared. Although the pain completely overtook my life at one point, it doesn’t today. I don’t have to be stuck in what was (both the good and the bad). Yes, two years ago today I could find very little to be grateful for, but today I have more gratitude than before. Yes, four years ago my life was “perfect” and although it feels like I live in the shadow of my wonderful past, it does not serve me to compare my experience. In fact, I rarely think it is beneficial for us to compare our lives to the past or with another.
    One thing I mentioned before is the humility I gained from this experience. It is my intention to be as much of a witness to it (life) as I can. Before my “perfect” life, I struggled. When things turned around for me, I realized that entire struggle had led me to the wonderful life I was living. So who am I to assume that this struggle I have been experiencing is bad or worthless? I pray that it brings me to a greater sense of peace and love, but I just don’t know. To be honest, I feel like an innocence was lost. I can’t really explain it. Maybe it is acknowledging that this life can deliver a tremendous amount of pain, loss, heartache, etc… Maybe it is acknowledging my own abilities and power and thus humility. Maybe it is disappointment for the above. I honestly do not know. I do know that I have more hope today than I did yesterday. I thank you from the bottom of my heart, for giving me the space to share my own struggles (perhaps in a self-indulgent way). I only hope that my struggles will help someone, somehow, someday.

    Much gratitude, peace and love,

    • Wow! So much rich sharing and rich life/human experience! Thank you for adding to the discussion about anger and dealing with pain. Your comment reveals many of the mindfucks that lurk on the spiritual path. Positive thinking, spiritual bypassing, mind projections, second guessing one’s self, questioning what is real…etc etc… I’ve found that sometimes in life asking the question “why?” is the most useless question in the world. I try to avoid it as much as I can…but it’s hard. Sinking into the pain, rather than transcending it has what I have found to be most authentic and ultimately healing. But that’s just what works for me. Wishing you acceptance and ease.

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