The world would be a profoundly different place if women expressed their anger.
Two months ago while attending a gathering there was a young woman who expressed how her throat feels closed down and her neck aches. She knew it was because of the anger she holds down like a corked bottle. It wants to explode, but she says to herself, “not right now.”
I had a vision while I was listening to her speak, so I shared it with her.
“Would you come over to my house and we’ll line the base of the barn with a tarp and throw glass?” I asked. This is not a typical invitation I give someone I hardly know, but it felt right so I went along with it.
The seed was planted in me and we set a date. I invited a few more women who had expressed at some point in the past they felt angry and didn’t know how to share it in a safe, accepting place. We were a small group of four on a full moon evening as the clouds swelled with rain.
We lit a fire outside. Each of us called in a direction: North, East, South, and West. Sage burned to ground our nervously shaking bodies. Intentions were set as we checked in about our relationship to anger –
- where do we hold anger in our bodies?
- what were we taught by our families and society about anger especially as women?
- why are we scared to show anger?
- who would we be if releasing anger was part of our lives on a regular basis?
- what are we angry about?
The bottle pressure was rising by this point and we were ready to smash some glass! Our area was set up for each of us to take turns expressing in whatever ways we felt moved. No judgment zone. Only a strong container of powerful women who have each others backs and a willingness to get messy.
Instruments: sentimental glasses and dish ware that held energy we no longer wanted to carry, wine bottles, wooden sticks and pallets, glass windows, sledge hammer, leather gloves, and safety goggles. Check.
This felt like unknown territory and my mind was racing with all kinds of ways to escape the moment. But, my body planted itself in the Earth saying, “Hell yes!”
What I witnessed and experienced brought me somewhere I’ve been before, but not in this lifetime. Watching each woman name all the times they’ve been, disrespected, put down, told to be nice, sexually and verbally assaulted invoked a level of trust and gratitude I did not know could be possible. Our rage actually made me feel more safe.
Her grief and anger was mine, too. Her power and strength smashing those pallets to smithereens was mine, too. Her humility was mine, too. Her shame of being seen in a female body was mine, too. Her unapologetic willingness to scream as loud as possible was mine, too. Her demand that the buck stops here, was mine, too.
What took place that night freed more people than just the four of us. Reverberations rippled into the past, present, and future.
I felt the cord of sexism cut from my womb that my Mother, Grandmother and her Mother and her Mother and her Mother dragged with her. I deliberately chose to release all shame, guilt, and obligations that take me out of my core. I am a human being with every right to be who I am. All of us are.
Timely with the political bull-sh*t that is taking place right now. As women, children, fathers, and grandparents are being separated for purely racist beliefs, I feel we cannot afford to suppress our anger any longer. There is a lot to be angry about. When I feel helpless, disconnected and hopeless about making any change in the world, I remember that “my” work with “my” community is where I can make a real impact because it is not “I” and “my,” it is always “we” and “us.”
The mountains we moved in two hours that full moon night were not only moved for us, they were moved for everyone. What is possible when we all take a look at our anger and find ways to safely express it? I recommend finding the people you trust to do this work with. Set up your smashable altar, grab that sledge hammer, and get on your safety goggles. It’s time to rage, ya’ll!
We’re making the world a better place by expressing our anger together, in alignment with deepening connections, dismantling racism and sexism, and remembering who we truly are as human beings. Empowerment begins the moment we set free the ways we make ourselves small, hidden, and ashamed.
For more on shame and being brave, check out this book by Brene Brown.
After each woman raged, we placed our hands on her body as she lay on the Earth. Heart racing, breathing heavily, tears streaming, held by us in the circle of acceptance. Home again.
“I feel so much better now,” one said.
“I feel taller!” said another.
“I could not do this while meditating alone,” I said.
“This might have to be a regular full moon event,” we all agreed.
We gathered the well-chopped (!) fire wood from the tarp and gave it to the fire. Transforming the result of our anger into fire felt so natural. The swelling clouds released their rain onto us, showering our bodies with the Mother Earth’s tears. We sang a song and gave thanks for this moment to be alive. Then, we feasted and closed the night with homemade lavender blueberry chocolate cupcakes, which I’ll share the recipe momentarily because it’s delicious.
Thanks to the brave women who showed up to rage with me. You are my teachers. I see you, and I love you.
I want to note here that it can be useful to start doing this work with groups of your gender identity. I find that women’s work and men’s work, though similar and equally valuable, comes out differently in settings with the genders we identify with. The stuff women move when men are not present and vice versa can be a more safe container for some. I want to do this work with men present, too. But, I know that when it’s only women, I can access a part of myself that is not possible (yet) with men around. However you identify, regardless of gender binaries, find a space that feels safe for your journey.