I angrily grabbed at the lizard that clung to my throat, forcibly ripped it from my neck and flung it away from me. My hands flew back to my neck and my eyes flew open. In the last few minutes of my dream the subconscious and the conscious merged. As the frightening images of being attacked by lizards faded, thoughts of dreams invaded my consciousness. Not the noble goals that I wished to achieve, but the things that I thought I am but aren’t. This brought me to thoughts of my step-father and sexual abuse. Suddenly, I felt the searing heat of anger and dislike radiating from my stomach. Tentatively I slowed my colliding thoughts and stepped into my memories. Then clarity struck, I’d hidden my anger.
I trod cautiously across the terrain of this hidden anger. I discovered its insidious nature. Now there is anger that you feel so you know it is there, but what of the anger that you do not feel but it exists? My anger hid beneath the unpleasant aspects of my character that I did not wish to face. Feeding on the negatives I was exposed to, it grew in its occupied space, undetected. Overtime, its concealed space could not contain it and fissures in my character grew, so slight at times, I barely noticed. A flare of anger here or there that is easily explained and reigned in. But the growth continued and soon the cracks in the foundation of my nicely constructed image were being unveiled. Like most people, I applied additional masks and offered a myriad of reasons why I became intensely upset, was irritated, anxious, worried, and afraid. I explained a hundred times that “everyone gets angry”. And as true as this is, there is danger in hidden anger.
Left unaddressed, hidden anger has the potential to covertly erode the foundation of who we are and the lives we have worked hard at building. Before we realize it we are left with gaping holes where there was once a foundation and our family, jobs, friendships, lives has been swallowed up by the existing canyon that is our anger. I soon learned that hidden anger doesn’t stay unseen. Insignificant things got me really riled and in conversations with others I disguised anger as passion. Too often, I exploded at the slightest irritation, overreacted when slighted and suffered bouts of depression I could not explain. I was angry and I seemed not to notice. It wasn’t long before those around were interacting with me uncertainly; unsure of what to say and when to say it. I had become a person I did not want to be. Angry.
But I did not want to stay angry. So I decided to stop acting. My mother always says that “you cannot conquer what you do not confront”. I decided to confront my anger and to take charge of my emotions. Though anger is a normal emotion, like anything else, extremes are harmful. I made up my mind to find ways to control my anger. This takes commitment and perseverance; it is a process. Firstly, I explore my anger associated with hurtful situations so it won’t be suppressed. I have learned to walk away from situations that upset me and I have found healthy ways to express that anger (karate). I meditate daily and take time for myself to connect to my true emotions. If my feelings and thoughts are not positive, I take time to work at releasing them by consciously focusing on the positive and letting go of the negatives. I repeat lots of scriptures out loud to shift my thought pattern. Above all, I refuse to enable my abuser anymore. What he did was not ok and I do not want to pretend that it was by being courteous because it is expected. I will talk to him when I feel like I am ready to have a conversation with him.
So today, I unmask my hidden anger, acknowledge its existence and work at its eradication. Today, I have chosen to take another step in living unmasked, in living authentic, in living free!