I have a confession to make.
There are days, sometimes weeks, where I feel I have conquered my anger. Where I feel, ok…I’ve got this. I know how to manage my anger because I know where it’s coming from. But then, when you’re wrapped with a blanket of serenity, BAM! There it is again. Even if you did what you felt you needed to do to cope with it, to ease it. Even if you did listen to your voice and said what you wanted to say and how you wanted to say it. The opposition at times is stronger and then the anxiety returns. Slowly forming like a wave, until it hits the shore knocking the air right out of me, my breathing becomes rapid, and oh no…here comes the panic attack…my chest hurts…I’m trembling. “Why? Why? Why!” And then I begin to wage a war against myself because I feel I have lost. I feel I have failed myself. I’m supposed to have it together. Two steps forward, one step back. It’s a process.
My defense has always been to go to anger. The question is what has happened? Did someone overstep my boundaries? Was I put in a position to please someone? My anger is a reflection of what I know. It’s ok to say, “What is this anger about?” Sometimes the emotion was out of proportion to the event. It’s ok to reflect and try and think of what it is that it kicked up for me…and understanding it I can then manage it.
The progress is coming fast and furious now. I’m understanding pieces of the puzzle a lot quicker. The time will come when those things won’t affect as deeply….and one day I will have longer and longer periods of being ok.
So I keep this book on my night stand like a bible. And I will keep it there until I have a clearer understanding of what gets kicked up. And how can I manage so I’m happier as a result. I’m at a place where I still need to talk it out in my head; there’s a lot of self-talk these days — hopefully with practice it gets better and better. And I’m also recognizing how I internalize *that* voice. *That* voice! How I long to silence *that* voice. This read has helped me significantly with *that*voice. The more I understand my history, the more I understand me.
Harriet Lerner’s The Dance of Anger (1985) has taught me not just how to cope with my emotions, but also how to express them responsibly. It’s ok to say, “I do not like when you say…” “What you said hurt me…” – I admit, I feel slightly embarrassed admitting this to you. You’re probably thinking she’s just learning this now? Isn’t she too old for this? I don’t blame you for thinking that. Truthfully, I feel like a baby who is learning how to speak, putting sentences together that are coherent, unfiltered…fear dissipates and confidence grows. I can’t tell you what a load off this is! But one thing I have been blind to and this book has definitely made me see it, is how to detriangulate relationships, especially in my family. No more “thinking in threes.” Putting theory into practice is far from easy. But I have to try. For me. For my family. I have to try. I must.
I’m on a path right now to find a self that is congruent with my beliefs and values. To maintain a position even when I’m angry, or stressed out, or hurt, that is also congruent to these values. Wounds will not mend themselves. There’s still a lot of soul searching left to do.
One watershed moment in the text – “Of course, most of us secretly believe that we have the corner on the ‘truth’ and that this would be a much better world if everyone else believed and reacted exactly as we do. But one of the hallmarks of emotional maturity is to recognize the validity of multiple realities and to understand that people think, feel, and react differently. Often we behave as if ‘closeness’ means ‘sameness.’ …..family members are especially prone to behave as if there is one ‘reality’ that should be agreed upon all” (page 39).
Oh this book! This book has given me hope. It’s given me the courage to change “the dance,” in all my personal relationships.
P.S. Yoga is my little miracle. It teaches me techniques — gives me the tools to take a deep breath, gives me the moment to put into practice to – shift my mind -there’s a psychological aspect of this for me – less perfection — being in the moment– allowing to enjoy life. But more on Yoga in another post!