I have never inquired, but I think if I asked my closest and oldest friends to describe me, the word “angry” would not be part of their response.
On some level I have been angry since just after giving birth to my daughter five years ago.
I was angry that my partner, society, and part of my self expected me to give up my career to stay at home changing nappies and playing “house wife” through the long days and nights.
Each day my partner left for work, no doubt tired and stressed himself, I was angry that he got to leave the house and walk around the outside world, seemingly able to do what he wanted, when he wanted, and without the constant, relentless demands of a newborn baby. I even resented the fact that he was able to drive without a crying baby in the back.
I was angry that I had post natal depression, and that it was me who endured the soul numbing emptiness that accompanied the feeling of having been abducted by aliens and an imposter put in my place.
I was angry that he crushed his finger in a work accident and I had to assume responsibility for all of us. He got to eat his dinner whilst it was hot, finish his beer, and he could block out the screams of our daughter wailing beside him to finish a conversation.
As the years unfolded and the post natal depression lifted, some of the anger changed or dissolved. We did our best to navigate our way through early parenthood but we were pummelled by challenges. Some were huge, gifted to us by our family lines, and some were self imposed, both consciously and unconsciously. We slept apart for three years, and this perhaps was a major cause of our final unravelling and most certainly planted the seed of anger even deeper within my heart and soul.
I have always referred to anger as “safe sadness.” It’s the walls and the barricades that we build around our hearts to protect ourselves from heartache. It’s our way of limiting how much we open our hearts, so that we experience less pain if we are wounded.
I gave “vulnerable” a try, which was my homework administered by our therapist, however, I did not feel matched in softness. Consequently, I built walls around my heart again, and thus brought more resentment into our home through my words, actions, thoughts and energy.
This pattern of finding the courage to demolish the walls constructed around my heart then re-building those walls happened over and over again. With each repetition, the walls were built higher as I assured myself the armour was necessary.
As you can imagine, it wasn’t just me who was resentful. After years of trying to love one another through the challenges, we let go. We let go of our relationship, of one another, and let go of the anger.
This experience of having the anger instantaneously dissolve was incredible, and immensely painful. By surrendering to what was, it all fell away. Just. Like. That. Without the protective walls of anger and resentment, our hearts were left open, unprotected, primal and raw. Subsequently, the pain and loss of grieving and letting go of one another was, and still is, excruciating, and the role anger played in seemingly protecting us became more obvious.
The truth is, I wasn’t angry for all of those years. I was sad. And alone. I felt abandoned, unsupported and unloved, and the safest way feel those things and still be a good mother was to build anger-fuelled walls around my slowly breaking heart.
We have now been journeying in our separation for 12 days without one iota of anger towards one another. There have been deep, heartfelt connections, intimacy, complete and utter open-heartedness, rawness, terror, beauty, pain and splendour. This break up is not like the others, not just because we created a daughter together, but because there are no walls built around our hearts to ease the inevitable heart break. It’s more painful because we don’t hate each other, and love abounds, and thus the unprotected fortresses that are our hearts are being torn apart.
As I sit with the reality that anger often serves to protect us, I cannot help but realise that it also deadens us to the experience of life itself. Essentially we become closed to the full spectrum of emotions, feelings and experiences.
In my breaking heart, I cannot successfully locate even one brick from all those walls that were once built around it. I sometimes find myself wishing we were angry at one another, or even angry with our selves. That would be easier. Safer. Less vulnerable. I’d want to push him away, not have him scoop me up into his arms and keep me safe. However, there is deep wisdom and insight to be found in sitting with the rawness, not closing off to all that this experience is. When it feels almost unbearable, inevitably when my mind takes over with the uncertainty of the future, there is nothing to do but invite myself to further open my unprotected heart.
My heart is opening to the pain of having loved deeply, though at times angrily, and it (seemingly) not having worked out. It’s opening to the truth about my stories, my wounds and my insecurities. I am able to fully surrender to the depth and breadth of this tear in my heart, a tear I know that one day will become my greatest gift and my strongest teacher. I am able to connect with my compassion, my vulnerability, my wisdom, my humanness, rawness, terror, my joy and deep love for this man who I had been angry with for so long. I can connect to his vulnerability, sorrow, his joy and big-heartedness and to his medicine.
In the absence of anger I am able to forgive deeply, to seek forgiveness, peeling back petals of an overwhelmingly beautiful and fragrant rose. Each time I feel the pull to build a wall, admittedly now from fear rather than anger, I just tear it down and open myself wider, knowing that barricading myself off is not an option. This pain must be full-flowing, felt and witnessed.
In the absence of anger, it’s almost impossible to be anything but open hearted.
Yes it hurts more, way more, but the depths to which one is taken is magnificent. The connection to self, beloved, humanity and Great Spirit is amplified without the buffer of anger, and therein lies the gold! Anger may protect and serve us well at times, but it can rob us of our authenticity and keep us swimming in the shallows oblivious to the depth of beauty therein.
As I walk forth into the world newly separated, my intention is to keep smashing down those walls constructed by fear, childhood wounds, and silly mind talk so that I remain open, letting the lessons and wisdom run deep, and my heart connection to be authentic, pure, sacred and true.
Author: Gypsy Artemis
Apprentice Editor: Ann Marie Matthews / Editor: Travis May
Image: courtesy of the author, Photographer: Jane McCrae