As a kid of the 60’s I wasn’t allowed to play with ‘Anger’ any more after the cute tantrums became not so cute. My friend ‘Anger’ would still try to pop up every now and then slamming the door or storming off in a huff, she really helped me express my frustration.
As time went on she was unacceptable and socially inappropriate. She was made fun of and mocked and shamed for appearing. To me, she was someone I could count on to stand up for me when I needed help but bit by bit she became more of a liability for me in my cultural environment and so I chose to banish her to survive. I banished my friend called ‘Anger’ into a deep dark cave somewhere far out of reach. As a girl born from parents who were of the 30’s generation, I had to be a nice girl, I had to acquiesce to my future role as a young ‘lady’ and anger was not part of that programming. So I adapted to please as am sure many girls of my era did. Even though I envied the rebels, I was a programmed pleaser.
She stayed banished when the bullies made my life a living hell as I moved from school to school.
She stayed banished when I was humiliated and ostracised by my peers as an amusement sport.
She stayed banished when eleven girls kept me up all night interrogating me, trapping and surrounding me in my bed while accusing me of stealing when they knew all along it was another girl in that gang using me as a plaything to flush her out. They had planted something in my bag while I was in the shower and were like relentless hyenas.
I vaguely recall even being invited to have a cup of tea with them after. I sat in with my knees to my chest sipping at the cup in traumatic numb bewilderment. I didn’t even drink tea! Being the pleaser still….
I recall the next day with clarity as I listened to my friend’s anger, burst out of her banishment. I stood small on the landing at the elite boarding house across from the large tall girl from the night before as she told me of the truth of the framing.
The realisation of total unjustified injustice, snapped me open. My friend ‘Anger’ could not be silenced any longer. She arose like a volcano from the banished deep and shouted the place down for all to hear (small people sooner or later learn to garner a loud voice simply for survival if nothing else) Swear words were spat out like those of a bogan pub brawler. Not ladylike, in any way! The big girls eyes bulged wide with shock.
Instead of being proud of myself for standing up, all I could think about was where was the courage of my friend ‘Anger’ the night just gone….Why didn’t she give them a good shouting off, or scream for help or swear at the top of her lungs when I needed her the most, when I was terrified of being eaten alive by those hyena’s? I mean I was not guilty of any crime.
Upon reflection, the key to the trigger was the injustice, finding out I was an innocent prey toy in their agenda. What they did was wrong. Big time.
The girl that was the thief had befriended me as a new border. That night as they all entered the room she sat on the ground next to me, unleashing interrogation hell as did the others. I never found out if she felt remorse. She was thrown out of school soon after for her crime as apparently there was a lot of stealing going on. On the landing where my friend ‘Anger reappeared, the big girl tried to say sorry but the volcanic fire was way too hot. Anger told her where to stick it in no uncertain terms.
That was the first time I recall my shadow friend coming back in full swing. I think to be honest the power of her outburst scared me. I was left shaking and in tears and although I finally stood up for myself, I wasn’t sure what my friend ‘Anger’ was capable of anymore as she was pretty full-on. Some of my thoughts were pretty dark and vicious…what if they were let out, what could she, I be capable of?
It took many years to learn that the shadow friend I had banished wasn’t all that bad she was just sick to the back teeth of being ignored, not by others…..by me.
I didn’t know how to integrate her, accept or befriend her. I was on that trajectory of being a pleaser and I so wanted to be liked more than anything, due to my deep insecurities.
So my friend decided to transform herself into the invisible Ice Queen. Hardly any cruel words were ever spoken but if they were, they were sharp as a knife and penetratingly cold as the dead of Siberia’s winter. The ice was protecting me from harm so no-one could come close. My friend ‘Anger’ was doing it all because it was her job to keep me safe no matter what. Volcanic was too scary, so she morphed into ice, for me. I felt her arising in me but I couldn’t see her, she was invisible remember?
I can tell you that both volcanic anger and ice anger have the same lethal vibration.
Then came the day when I saw her as she had truly become.
A therapist asked me to draw what I thought my anger looked like as I was being triggered by my partner’s behaviour and resentment and unfairness was cycling round and round in my head with no resolve. I surrendered to the process and let myself draw. What came out of the drawing was an image that I don’t need a piece of paper to remember….its forever imprinted.
I drew a skinny, bitter, long-nailed nasty mouthed woman. Standing in the centre of a barbed wire fence and cursing anyone that would hurt me. Swear words of viciousness and protectiveness were written close by. It was everything I deemed ugly and cruel.
When I was a kid she was stubborn, bossy and strong-minded. I see her standing with her chin and chest out all proud of her tiny self, but she was also full of love and joy and adventure and held no ill will. I have always been a person that does not like unfairness on any level and my little friend had transformed into this bitter nasty protector that wasn’t going to let anyone get close enough to hurt me, ever! Silly because she couldn’t really protect me from the hurt I just got frozen in it instead.
It took me a good while to realise that the reason she became this way was because I had shoved her into the dark for so long out of fear. It wasn’t my fault that she was banished to the dark cave, it was how I was programmed via what behaviour was acceptable. My parents didn’t know any better and they were only trying to instil principles of kindness and respect, even though they negated to realise that the other emotions are is also as vitally important to a happy and healthy disposition.
When people ask me how to deal with a difficult emotion like anger, my answer is always the same. The only way through is by making friends, whether you are an Ice King or Queen or a Volcanic exploding Dragon.
In meeting and embracing my friend anger fully, she now feels accepted, respected and relevant. Do I take her advice when she goes off and wants to say awful things, well no, but I take time and listen to how she is feeling, I will write her purging words in my private journal without any judgement – devoid of any censorship. When she does rear her head I know it’s like a train crossing signal, she is feeling protective of me feeling hurt and I assure her I will take good steps to communicate and work with my feeling safely one way or the other. I will never banish her again, she is part of my gestalt, my whole self. And believe me, by experience I can tell you it has helped ENORMOUSLY.
I have more of that inner friend of the early day’s qualities. I still walk with my chin up and out and my chest lifted. And if I feel strongly about something I will communicate it in a way both myself and others can handle. I still get mighty riled up when I see injustice and unfairness but I accept that that’s part of who I am and it has also lead me to my path of service. My inner child is happier, safer. I am no longer afraid of my protector like I used to be afraid of the dark. There are no caves to hide in any more and I know how to melt the ice.
I am a work in progress as we all are.
Pick up a pen or a paintbrush and say hello to your protector and see what comes. Use what I have reflected on in this piece to help you access your inner shadow friend. When did yours turn up? Why do you think they were needed and when did you lose control of the friendship? What’s the best way to negotiate with them when they want your attention.
Begin the dialogue now
They are waiting