Sometimes I get angry.
When I write about my anger, people get uncomfortable. Sometimes they even get upset. It’s really interesting. I thought you were the Love Wins lady, they say. I thought you cared about kindness. Why do people think that anger isn’t kind? Every internal or external love revolution starts with a little anger.
We should stop telling women and girls that they are not allowed to be sad or angry. Forbidding half of the human experience to half of the human race is quite insane and dangerous. It hurts women – bad. We internalize this “women don’t get angry” message and so every time we feel angry we layer shame on top of our anger. And so instead of using our anger, we hide it. We numb it with food or booze or snark or TV or sex or whatever else. We assume that if we are angry- there is something wrong with us instead of considering that maybe we are angry because there is something wrong with the world. Perhaps that “something wrong” is even something that we could help change. Maybe anger can be our fuel. Maybe anger is like compassion, in that it can point us directly toward the place in the world we were born to help heal.
A couple of years ago I was in the kitchen listening to Alanis Morissette. I love Alanis with all of my might- which is a lot of might. My then six year old daughter walked in and said with a touch of scorn, “Is this the angry lady again?” And I laughed and said, “I like how Alanis is passionate. I like how she’s not afraid to share her feelings, even when her feelings are angry. I love how she turns her love and anger into art so it helps others. She reminds me that it’s okay to be angry. ” And Tish said, “Girls shouldn’t get so angry.” And I said, Hm. I’m a girl and I get angry. And Tish looked at me and said, “Oh.” Then she went back to her room. A little while later, she tapped me on the back and said, “I get angry sometimes too, mom.” Phew, I said. That means you’re human. You know, I think anger is like fire- it can be used to save the world or burn it. We’ll just figure out how to use our anger to save the world, kay? “Kay” she said.
My daughter loves Alanis Morissette now. You have not lived until you’ve cooked mac and cheese next to an eight year old in pig tails singing at the top of her lungs: WHY ARE YOU SO PETRIFIED OF SILENCE? HERE, CAN YOU HANDLE THIS?
Yes. We can handle this, Tish. The world can handle you. The pretty sweet parts and the loud jagged parts. All of you. Be ALL of you.
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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