Monday, January 14, 2008

On Anger ... Again

Again, I have been considering meditation in relation to the mask of anger. Those who know me, know that I firmly believe that anger isn't a true emotion, but rather a mask to hide true emotions even from ourselves.

There has been much discussion of anger around me again lately, and it's effects on both us and those we love, sometimes even tainting the love we feel for someone special.The particular comment that started me writing this was "Even anger must flow freely else it becomes dammed up and spills out inappropriately elsewhere." I agree fully with this, however I probably differ in the method used to direct the flow.

I was born a Leo, with the claws and fangs to prove it. In my teens, my anger was totally uncontrolled. I felt justified every time I took out my claws, sharpened then used them, with no regard for who it might damage. That was not healthy for me or the recipient of my rages, nor does it help to make and maintain good relationships.

One of the first things I had to learn as a young adult was how to tame the beast, and that is exactly what has to be done "tame the beast". You can not put it in the closet and hope it will go away. Things left in the closet tend to grow, it is pretty fertile in there, you know. You can not deny it's existence, it will reach out and bite you as soon as your back is turned. You can not break it like you might break a wild horse. (Wrong way to treat the horse too). You can not just wish it away, and you can not simply let it continue to let it rule your life, particularly if you have a relatively new partnership and a couple of sprouts, as prip calls them. Unfettered anger is hard on relationships and teaches children the wrong lessons.

For me, the saving grace was discovering meditation and the roads to discovery that it took me down. As soon as I started to dabble in it, my innate curiosity took control and I began to investigate the Eastern religions with a vengeance. I did not find the answers I was seeking but I did find the key to anger, at least for me. I became an "Anger Whisperer". I learned to go into the storm and seek the causes. Carved into the rock lintel of the Oracle at Delphi are the words "Know Thyself", which was my first clue. My readings from the book The Compassionate Buddha provided more clues. Many other books and investigations added more pieces to the puzzle, until I was ready to look beyond the obvious. The tools, I had to find myself. After taking the problems that anger causes into meditation, I began to look behind the face of anger to see what was hiding there, what the triggers were that let it loose.

That is when I really started to grow. I saw that each time I let anger out of it's cell, it immediately sprang to my defense, sheltering me from so many emotions that I did not want to own, let alone deal with. If I was afraid, anger would spring up and hide the fear, if I was embarrassed, anger would cover that emotion too, if I felt inadequate, anger was there to hide it from me. What a big task I had set myself..................I had to look at the bare, unpretty sides of myself that I did not want to have anything to do with, but if I was to tame anger, I had to go there.

I looked at my fear each time anger sprang up to hide it from me. As soon as I chose to examine the fear, anger subsided and slunk back into it's den. One piece of the puzzle solved. If I accepted that I had so many fears, anger left me alone to examine them. There was fear of pain, fear of failure, fear of discovery of my unworthiness, fear of being taken advantage of, fear of ridicule, fear of embarrassment, so very many fears that I had no idea I had. What a mess I discovered myself to be, but as they say, acknowledgment of a problem is more than half of the solution thereof. With a wee bit of faith, I began tackling the fears. Each one that I confronted and became familiar with faded into the background, or at least came to me without having anger clear the way.

The day finally came when I was able to look at a situation and say to the person causing me the pain "That really hurt me" while the tears streamed down my face, naked vulnerability where anger used to be. The biggest surprise was that the person causing my pain did not flare up with an anger even bigger than my own had been. They stopped in their tracks, amazement written all over their face as they looked at the whole situation in a totally new light. Both they and I had broken down a barrier to real communication. I am not saying that will happen each and every time one looks behind the mask of fear, because it will not. But it happens often enough that anger now plays a very small part in my life and I am really in tune with who and what I am. Those around me react in different ways, some run for the hills as fast as their little legs can carry them, screaming all the way, some pull up a chair and settle in to having a deep, rich, meaningful relationship, and others do a combination of both, while still others feel the magnetic charge before approaching and are repelled instantly. That's OK because I know that I am being true to myself and I can look into the eyes of the person in the mirror without flinching.
This growth, this owning of all of myself did not happen over night, it is the culmination of over 40 years of soul searching and making every attempt to become the best ME that I can be. Much of my poetry and observations comes from studying and examining both the human condition in general, and my own flaws and growth in particular.

As I near the end of my days, I can look back on my life with few regrets, knowing I have done the best I could with the knowledge and tools that I had, and I am not done growing yet. I am just beginning to understand what I see in the mist beyond the veil, and groping for the words to express what I see.


jim said...

My blanket advice to all young people, younger than myself, is to be consciously trying to do and be the best you can, then your shortcomings will not be regrets and you will always warrant forgiveness without a thought.

Experience has taught me how right you are Zareba, in these posts, keep up the fine writing and worthy endeavor!

Zareba said...

Thank you, Jim.