September 30, 2011

Sleeping with anger: what happens when I take it to bed

How do we distinguish between our feelings and our emotions? And which of the two drive our actions? Are they interdependent, co-dependent or even independent?

I am resisting the temptation of my intellect to left-brain dive into the world of the internet to find a finite definition.

Rather, I will trust my body and inner voice and listen to what they have to tell me.

At some stage of our lives we all face anger – projected, acted[ing] out, victimized by.  Some of us may have learned that leaving our anger to fester is counter-productive and self-destructive.

Then there are those who have been angry for so long that the possibility of being otherwise is beyond their scope of reach. I recall reading once somewhere that most cemeteries are filled with angry people. So too are homes, offices, schools, churches, government institutions, brothels, bars, yoga studios, subways, buses, airplanes…anger is everywhere.

Wherever we are on the anger spectrum is directly affected by our circumstances. The first time that I realized that I was actually angry, it hit me like a huge dumper-truck load of bricks. I’d been trekking in the Arizona Cactus region along with a friend who was feeling especially vulnerable at this particular stage of her life. Because I trusted her, I was actually able to hear her when she declared to me, “Nadine, you’re angry.” Herein began my quest to understand this fire-brand emotion and its presence in my life.

As a woman of color living a supposedly colorless world, my anger was stifled along socio-cultural, stereotypical lines.  So I set about on this desperately insane trip to prove to everybody – fuck you – I ain’t angry! This was the part of the trip where I felt justified in my anger and got all righteous about it.


This morning, I woke up celebrating my anger as it may well have saved me from imploding.

Pre-dawn anger is the one I slept fitfully with and dragged into my sub-conscious. It catapulted me out of bed and had me in such a frenzied state that I was compelled to discharge its energy by engaging in some physical activity.

As it transformed my blood to rocket fuel, I got dressed so quickly that a lightning bolt would be challenged to match my pace, and next thing I know, I was through the door and walking the streets of Bangui under the guise of exercise.

Mother Nature creates a sanctuary

The moment I enter the forest my jaws loosen, my shoulders relax and my stride becomes more graceful and fluid. At the other end of it, there’s an entrance to where I can sit and meditate with the Oumbangi River glimmering before me as it is kissed by the morning sun. A bench awaits me where I sit tall, feet firmly rooted on the ground and the palms of my hands on my knees. I close my eyes and inhale deeply. Time has lost its essence.

Eventually I return and as I open my eyes, the expanse of water before me seems even calmer, reflecting my own shift.

Lighter, I run all the way home.

I spend even more time being with me by engaging in a few asanas or yoga postures on the mat.

Emerging from Savasana or corpse pose, I sit for a short while before closing my practice with the universal sound of OM, chanted three times.

I’m barely off the mat when I realize the gift of this bout of anger. It has aggressively, constructively, pushed me to answer a question that I’d spent the past year sub-consciously projecting onto someone else, possibly the very person who could be the spark that lit my anger flame:

Where in my own life am I burying my head in the sand of fear and stopping myself from leading the full life that I’m meant to?

The pinnacle arrives as I open an empty gift box that I intend to re-cycle. This box contained a ring that my mother had given me on my last birthday. In it, lies a tiny hand-written card from her that I’d clearly read before however this morning its meaning is even more profound and timely.

It reads,

I enjoy watching you grow.

I smile and go in peace.


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