Anger has been my go to emotion for most of my life. I grew up in an angry household and, from my view, anger got you things. My dad’s anger, and sometimes rage, seemed to keep him in control and calling all the shots. I do not think that I consciously chose to be angry, but the circumstances of my life, my biology and my home life helped me move toward anger and resentment, not away from it.
And it was effective. When you are largely pissed off all the time, people do tend to give you what you want or just leave you alone. Anger is the great disconnector...keeps healthy people at a distance and pulls sick ones into your inner orbit. I didn’t know this of course. I just found the conditions of my life ripe for being angry and I went with it.
And it worked until it didn’t.
Then one day I realized that every emotion I had got funneled into anger. I was largely pissed off most of the time. And resentful. It was all consuming. I can remember a therapist once asking me if we could take the anger put it in a jar and leave it on her shelf for a week. It was like she asked if she could sever my right arm from my body and keep it on ice for a week...I was like “um, no, I need it to function.” And I did.
Anger was all I was. It gave me a backbone, a heart, a personality. Now none of these were really much fun but I was similarly surrounded with a lot of other people who were upset and rageful for my anger fit right in. It was hard to tell the difference.
But somewhere along the line my anger became an impediment. It was something that kept me from getting what I wanted or needed. I would ask people for things and when they didn’t comply I would punish them and cut them off. Anger wins again.
I basically had to learn how to live and do relationships all over again. It was not easy or fun. But I knew that I didn’t want to be consumed anymore by this silent cancer of rage that lived inside me.
For this to happen, I had to see anger as ineffective, impotent. So long as anger was workable or profitable for me, nothing would change. I had to come to see that it was not serving me in any area of my life, and that change had to come or else I would live the rest of my days letting anger carve my path.
I had to find some spiritual viagra. I had to find something to assist me with my angry impotence. I had to see that I was unable to take effective action, was helpless to change my existence for the better so long as anger was at the helm.
And the magic blue pill was meditation, prayer and yoga. These three things gave me access to something greater than myself. They started out as something I said that I did, a prop to make myself look better than I actually was. But they became the building blocks of a life lived based on spiritual principles. Not perfectly, of course. But they slowly over time became the bedrock upon which I finally felt like I was standing on solid ground. Recovery first, spiritual practice daily.
Viagra works by relaxing the muscles in the blood vessel walls to increase blood flow. Spiritual practice does the same thing, it relaxes all the angry and tight muscles I have flexed and flexed year after year and help me increase the flow of spirit into places cordoned off previously.
I know this is a weird analogy. But it works for me. Viagra helped lots of people find a new way to do an old thing. And that is exactly what happened with my anger. It rendered me impotent in my relationships. I was not able to participate and to be present. Anger stood between me and intimacy because who wants to get closer to a person who is pissed off all the time? Only severally dysfunctional people...and I had enough of those for a lifetime. So while my medicine didn’t come in a little blue pill, it was four sided: recovery, prayer, meditation and yoga all helped lay a foundation upon which I could build a new way of living.
I mean think of all those couples before viagra whose sex life was suddenly and permanently derailed. Think of how much that hurt their ability to touch and be touched, to share life’s most intimate acts. Think of how much viagra helped to give them all a new footing and foundation upon which to live and love their life.
Perhaps I am reaching here but anger left me in the same boat. Seemingly permanently unable to connect with others on any meaningful level. I was unable to be touched and share life’s most intimate acts because I couldn’t be present. Didn’t know how to be present and go through life’s machinations without resorting to my good old friend anger. Anger always led to aggression for me, and as I have previously stated, no one wants to have a relationship with someone who is openly aggressive and hostile.
So I take my spiritual viagra every day and I am no longer rendered impotent by my anger. I have come to know a wealth of other emotions and learned to bench anger much earlier on before she has totally stolen the show and caused a trainwreck in my life. Better living through medicine, even when the only medication I am actually taking comes in the form of the daily practice of going within to find where the heart of the problem lies: within myself.