I felt the rage in me boiling over and out. My body became electrified and empowered. Energy coursing through me. Pure fury and rage. It’s the scariest thing I’ve felt in my life. She dropped me to my knees to see her in her full power. She was beauty and a beast.
I was 17 when I first met her. I remember the day and the moment. It was my senior year of high school, first period, library elective. That morning, I knew I should not be at school. I’d never felt anything like it. I just knew. Days before, my father had gone into intensive care. He had juvenile onset diabetes and by the time he was 40 had a kidney transplant. By my senior year of high school, I was no stranger to the hospital. I knew the drill. However, this morning was different. I didn’t want to be at school. I called my mother and pleaded with her to get me out of school so I could go see my dad. She eventually came and after some finagling got me out.
That morning we took our time, getting breakfast before heading to the hospital on the Air Force base. When we arrived, there were two soldiers blocking the door. They informed us that there was a code blue in progress and we needed to go to the waiting room. I watched my mom get agitated and worried. At the waiting room, my mom was greeted by other patient’s family members. It seems the code blue had just happened and they were trying to assess who it was. I’m not sure how much time passed before a doctor came out and asked to see my mom and I. That’s the moment when time changed. I remember following the Doctor back to her office. Watching her white coat swishing, feeling the nervous energy building in my body. I remember sitting. The doctor starting to talk. The next thing I know, my hands are flailing and the Doctor restrains me before I accidentally punch her. My father was dead. Pure rage took over. That’s the first time I met her.
Most of my life my rage and anger hid under sadness. Sadness has always been easier for me. Rage has taken time. The next time rage visited me was after I finished my Master's Degree. She and anger spent 6 weeks with me. At that time, I was overwhelmed by her. We didn’t have a good relationship and I spent my time either hiding from her or acting out. I was aware enough that I vowed to experiment yet never harm myself or others. I listened to NIN on repeat. I drank. I painted. I broke dishes. I tore up stuffed animals. I made art and burnt it. I tried therapy. After some time rage just vanished.
Recently, rage has visited me again. Fortunately, I learned from her last visit and have matured over the years. This time, I was able to welcome both with open arms. I was able to see the beauty in the beast and find their gifts of grace.
Getting to Know Rage
At first glance, my rage looks like Kali. She is terrifying. At first blush, she feels uncontrollable and devastating. When rage is disowned and shunned; she becomes hate, vindication, treachery, war, violence, and death. She becomes the beast that we are all scared of— wrath. When rage is greeted with curiosity; she becomes beauty, empowerment, boundaries, and clarity. I’ve come to appreciate that rage and its cousin anger are essential human qualities. It’s the humanity of us touched in the rawest, painful and most passionate way. She’s evoked when the core of what is sacred, right and valued has been trespassed upon. She is a guardian of our humanity.
As I’ve taken walks with her, I’ve come to learn a lot about her and myself. She let me know she always comes with an important reason— awareness and holy action. Our boundaries, needs, or values have been crossed or violated. Rage is an energy moving from the pain that is felt. Once she has calmed, I see her beauty and her gift, a chance to appreciate that which was transgressed. It's a painful mix of sorrow and love for something that has been lost.
Rage, she’s a warrior calling us to the fight. Calling us to protect what we believe in. In maturity, she also asks for us to sit in the purity of our pain, without action. As she calms, there is choice and wisdom. In her highest; she calls us to compassion, to grief, to self-care, and love. In her lowest; she pricks us into a reaction, to hate, vindication, and violence. Really, she wants to be seen and to have a chance to speak. The more we try to hide or escape her, she will be re-triggered and the initial consuming spark becomes a blaze.
This time when I felt rage’s approach, I was ready. I greeted her as a friend, not as my enemy. I invited rage in and asked her to teach me her ways. This wasn’t an easy task.
Letting the Beast Take Over
I like to think of rage like a caged tiger. Confined in a small space her anxiety peaks and if you poke her she has two choices to defend herself or submit. Rage is defense. She comes on strong, consuming, and uncontrollable. The trick is recognizing her scent and getting enough breathing room before reacting. When first working with rage; if you don’t have awareness, skill, or treat her unkindly the beast can take over. Here are some signs that you are on this path:
Healthy Ways to Walk with Rage
Rage in her healthiest form calls us into action, to restore our boundaries and what was violated. Navigating these emotional waters takes time and grace. First and foremost, get space from the trigger. If you can, take a deep breath and get the hell out of there. Staying in a situation that causes rage and anger too long can cause trauma. With space from the trigger, do not repress your anger. Find healthy ways to channel it and let it go. Anger repressed in your body can lead to illness. Below are some recommendations to help you move through rage:
When the energy of rage has passed, it’s time to tap into her wisdom and compassion. She has a message for you. The gift of rage and anger I found is power, conviction, boundaries, and clarity of my values and needs. She has come to help me say NO! Create a safe space and time, set an intention of healing or whatever feels authentic to you. Then invite in anger or rage. This may scare you. When I first did it I felt like it would crush me. It didn't. You will find your way to the other side. There sadness, compassion, regret, and whatever else is waiting for you. Then, when ready, let it go. As you get comfortable with this practice there are other ways to work with rage. One way is to have a dialogue with her and ask her questions. Here are some questions to get you started. What is your purpose in my life at this time? What do you want for me? What message do you have for me?
Walking with rage is scary, it’s empowering, it’s painful, and it’s not easy. I truly hope that you never know such pain, such rage. That she never knocks on your door. Some may tell you to be strong. Some may tell you it’ll be ok. Some may tell you to stuff it. Some may tell you to not act on it, revenge isn’t worth it. I'll tell you this; honor how you are feeling and take care of yourself. Take time, ask for courage, and when ready pour rage a cup of tea to learn what treasure she is protecting. The greatest gift we can give rage is to accept her wisdom, to find compassion, and have the courage to practice Aloha.