I recently “relapsed” again. Not in the “physical” sense, where I actually drank, but int he emotional and spiritual sense. I tend to do this upon occasion, and its a real bitch for me. This latest “relapse” was a powerful one in that it hurt me – physically and emotionally; and I felt the “hurt” for some days afterward. And after that, serenity. Upon reflection, and through a few hours of conversion and coffee with a few trusted friends, I made a couple discoveries about my spiritual journey; one of which is, my path to serenity sometimes leads me through “anger” to “hurt.” And after I embrace my “hurt,” I find serenity.
A friend came over to my house, and we talked one evening. He exhibited real courage to put my “anger” in my face while we were talking. He told em there were others who chose not to associate with me because of my tendency toward anger. This was tormenting to me as he told me, and sad for me upon reflection, because I knew it to be true. Rather than isolate further into more anger and self pity, I became determined to work through it…
I reckon we all know certain basic core truths about ourselves. One of mine is, I have a softness about myself, a sensitivity that I love to express – and feel, and at the same time, I’m afraid of. I suppose I am afraid that if I open myself to this natural softness, I’ll open myself up to ‘hurt.’ I feel vulnerable. So for many, many years, I have used ‘anger’ as a barrier to ‘hurt.’ Not in all cases – there have been some things that have legitimately pissed me off, but by and large, I have used ‘anger’ as an insulation measure – at the expense of being myself. As I continue tog row in sobriety, I find this behavior ever more burdensome, to the point of chronic fatigue.
What is remarkable to me is, once I have an awareness of an ‘issue’ about myself, e.g., the relationship of ‘anger’ and ‘hurt,’ I can begin to see it ever clearer in others. I begin to ‘relate!’ The other night a woman told (in her ‘lead’) how she used to feel anger at school when others would tease her. I am sure she did, but i saw through her ‘anger’ to her ‘hurt’ as she told her story. And, for a brief moment, I could feel her hurt also. So, over this past week, I have been looking at certain of my ;angers,’ and have found ‘hurt’ behind many of them. Not all of them, but enough for me to realize it’s time to stop using ‘anger’ as a barrier to living.
Recently I was filled with a revelation that would have driven me to anger in the past. At first I was inclined to just ignore the issue, perhaps hoping it would just go away or maybe I had heard wrong. I didn’t hear it wrong, and as I processed the situation, I felt ‘hurt,’ not anger! I allowed myself to feel my ‘hurt’ and soon it passed. I was somewhat amazed – and soon felt ‘gratitude.’ Gratitude for not having to bury it anymore – and it all went away! Damn – I have buried so many ‘hurts’ over my life…
I am naive to think that all anger masks just ‘hurt;’ I know different. Some of my anger hides ‘fear,’ some ‘guilt,’ some covers ‘shame’ and so on. What I realized from my recent (emotional) relapse is, I don’t have to react to all troublesome life situations with anger. Just as I didn’t have to drink when faced with adversity or stress, I also don’t have to get angry. It’s ‘okay’ to feel feelings other than anger…
As is often the case, people or events show up in my life at very interesting times. The other day I found myself at Barnes & Noble looking at CDs. I came across a Harry Chapin album I hadn’t seen before so I bought it – and began listening to it on the way home. The second song not he album is, “If You Want to Feel.” The part that reached me was:
“If you try to look
But you don’t touch
Then you won’t touch
But you’ll never feel
And if you never feel
You’ll never cry
And if you don’t cry
Then you’ll never heal…”
At this time in my life I have to go beyond the anger and allow myself to hurt – and upon occasion, maybe cry. Then I might begin to heal…
(Area 55 News, June 2002)