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Day 90: (Women's) Anger and What If...?

My relationship to anger is shifting.

No one is more surprised than I, except maybe a dear friend who has journeyed with me in our differences. I’ve often been the firey one, she the watery one. Each of us recognizes the wisdom of the other, even if the other’s elemental expression doesn’t come naturally or first.

For years I have been an advocate for women’s anger, even women’s outrage. How can one live in the world we do today and not? The cause is so righteous. The transgressions so blatant, painful. Anger is the body’s natural response to boundaries being transgressed. Women are socialized to undervalue their own experience. Anger is a corrective. It teaches within, when welcomed, and without, when expressed. “It is the nectar the world needs today,” says Bethany Webster, shared in outrage by a writing sister last night. All of which I have agreed with...

Except I heard a new voice within me…Until there’s a better way, she said.

What does this voice mean? Where did she come from? Does she not honor the pain of women facing such transgressions today?

I’ve done a lot of work with my own anger over these many years. It probably began, consciously, in my late twenties, though I’ve always been strong-willed. Growing up as I did, in the small Ohio town that I did, I knew that women could be strong but also that strong-willed women were not feminine, desirable, could even be shameful. Particularly next to a man who loved her. Heading into theological education, church, intensified this, though I channeled it into constructive, establishment-oriented achievements.

Many significant ‘buoys’ along this ocean, but 2014, deep body-return, awakening, RAGE. Years tending to the feelings of abandonment and betrayal by those who professed love (church folks especially). Always just the right teacher or container to be just enough, to hold me safely in my rage. Now 2020 into the present…anger, yes, but pathways of peace to honor it, not let it hold you. Me.

Until there is a better way…

Hannah Gadsby speaks of anger at the end of her ground-breaking show, Nanette. "I have a right to be angry,” she says, “but not to spread it.” “Anger is never constructive,” she claims.

I remember revolting against her rather definitive claim, assured inside that anger is constructive.

So now I sit at this unfamiliar intersection, knowing that anger is unresolved grief, that grief is a sadness (and eventually praise) needing expression and release. Anger is now a signpost that peace inside is possible, once you’ve recognized the wound, the pain, and offered it back to the earth in sacred ritual, to metabolize it. Not spreading it. Not “using it for good.”

“The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house,” says Audre Lorde. “They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.”

What if anger, leading to rage, is one of the master’s tools?

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