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But What is Anger Really?

I was doing a reading with a client recently and this is roughly how her conversation with her guides went (posted with permission and paraphrased for brevity.)

“Erin, I am recently divorced and I spend a lot of my days feeling intense anger and hatred towards my ex-husband. I supported him while he went to college, worked two jobs so he could get a better job. Raised two children largely on my own so he could focus on his career and making our lives better. And as soon as he ‘made it’ he cheated on me with a co-worker, hid away his money and assets, and left me and the children like we never existed. I am so mad; most days I can’t even see straight. I fantasize about hurting him and his new girlfriend. Can you ask my guides why he did this to me? What did I do to deserve this sort of treatment?”

Her guides said, “You did not deserve this treatment. You were married to someone who took advantage of your kindness, loyalty, and sense of teamwork. You feel betrayed that he did not reciprocate your love and loyalty.”

She said, “Yes! He’s a total asshole and I hate him with every fiber of my being.”

“What is that costing you?” her guides asked.

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“What does it cost you each day you carry this hatred in your heart? Does it cost you peace of mind? Does it cost you joy? Does it cost you your health?”

She was quiet for a moment and said, “Yes, I guess it does. But I can’t just turn off my anger. I feel like he needs to pay for what he’s done to me.”

Then her guides said, “Are you actually angry at him, or maybe you’re angry at yourself?”

“What? Why would I be angry at myself? I’m the victim here,” she asserted.

“Maybe you’re angry at yourself for tolerating his abuse for so long. Maybe you’re angry at yourself for putting his needs before your own. Maybe you’re angry with yourself for not leaving him before he left you.”

She was quiet for a moment and then said, “Hmm, maybe you’re right. I just kept expecting him to reciprocate my care. I kept expecting him to love me as loyally as I loved him. I was expecting him to see my value to him and to give a damn, to make me feel like I mattered.”

“Yes, and perhaps it’s not really anger you’re feeling. Perhaps it’s grief. Grief for the time you lost, for the love you were expecting that never really came. Grief for what could have been but never was,” her guides suggested.

She started to cry. Then she said, “Yes, I gave him the best years of my life and he ground me into the dirt, threw me away like garbage.”

Her guides said, “No, you threw you away. You laid down on the ground and let him walk all over you. And now you’re acting surprised by his behavior, but deep down you know the signs were there all along and you ignored them because you wanted to be happy so badly that you framed everything that happened as ‘love in progress.’ You are not angry, you are grieving, and grief can be healed.”

“How?” she asked.

“By accepting that you were a co-creator in this bad relationship. By taking responsibility for ignoring the truth that was right in front of you for years. By releasing your desire to blame him and acknowledge that this wouldn’t have happened if you were honest with yourself.

The healing comes when you decide that this need never happen to you again. That you will always admit the truth to yourself even if it hurts. That you will set boundaries on how you are treated by others. That you are worthy of being loved, cherished, and adored and to say no to anyone that does not show up that way in a relationship with you.

You can sit in your room at night and be angry and blame him for how he treated you and let that poison kill you slowly over time, or you can be grateful you got away from him when you did and look forward to creating a new life with a new partner.”

She said, “Wow, that was pretty powerful, Erin. Please thank my guides for the insight. I really never thought of it that way before, but I get it now. I can already feel a big knot in my body releasing. I will sit with this and think. Thank you so much!”

Anger is grief expressed outward at others. You cannot heal until you acknowledge the part you played in facilitating the situation that made you angry. Then be grateful you don’t have to repeat that lesson. Remove yourself from that which is hurting you, learn from the experience, and keep going.

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