Blue Anger ©1998, Jamie Alaine Hulley
Anger is a great force. If you control it, it can be transmuted into a power which can move the whole world.
— William Shenstone (1714-1763)
This week, we begin the third step of our twelve-step recovery, healing the artist within us. This step focuses on “Recovering a Sense of Power.” Julia tells us that in this part of our journey, we may find ourselves, “dealing with unaccustomed bursts of energy and sharp peaks of anger, joy, and grief. You are coming into your power as the illusory hold of your previously accepted limits is shaken. You will be asked to consciously experiment with spiritual open-mindedness.”
I am joyful but also a little concerned, that one of our fellow travelers, Star, is taking the daring step of showing her artistic creations this week. I am thrilled for her, but I also know that many of us are, at this stage, in fragile territory. As we step into our power for the first time, we may be quite vulnerable. You may find that as you begin to spread your artistic wings, you simultaneously experience exhilaration, fear, despair, anger, and even a sense of coming home to yourself for the first time.
Maybe you felt this earlier and have already moved past it, but one of the first emotional responses you are likely to experience in this work is anger. I have to admit that as I read about the ways that so many of you suffered as tender, budding dreamers and artists, I got really angry. And I find, as I am working my own steps now, my fuse is much shorter than usual.
I hope you’ve allowed yourself to get good and mad if you’ve needed to. I learned a long time ago that anger, unpleasant as it may be, is a fierce friend. It is what forces us to make the necessary changes we might rather not. Anger teaches us where our boundaries are, and when they have been violated.
I grew up in a very dysfunctional situation, where boundary violation was normal, and anger about it was harshly punished. For many years, being in touch with my anger was a dangerous threat to my survival. I suspect that may be true for many people, especially women.
So it took me a long time to recognize that anger is not always destructive; that being nice, and swallowing anger come at a terrible price, especially once we are adults.
Julia writes, “Anger is fuel. We feel it and we want to do something. Hit someone, break something, throw a fit, smash a fist into the wall, tell those bastards. But we are nice people, and what we do with our anger is stuff it, deny it, bury it, block it, hide it, lie about it, medicate it, muffle it, ignore it. We do everything but listen to it.
“Anger is meant to be listened to. Anger is a voice, a shout, a plea, a demand. Anger is meant to be respected… Anger points the way.. In the recovery of a blocked artist, anger is a sign of health.”
Has your artist self felt angry yet? Would you feel okay telling us about it?