Angry Druid

For me, the journey of recent years has involved claiming my own anger and letting myself feel entitled to it. Anger is not a socially accepted emotion – especially not in women and many of us learn that we are to be quiet, grateful, biddable and co-operative and that we must never, ever cause offence by being furious. Never mind what’s done to us to provoke the fury.

I’m also only too aware that there are a second set of people who feel entitled to anger over anything that displeases them or makes them uncomfortable. There are a small number of people for whom the experience of anger is understood as an excuse for violence, as though to be angry is to have no choice but to lash out.

Getting the balance of needful, healthy, protective anger without falling into the anger that is deaf to all negative feedback, is tricky. It’s not what we feel that’s in issue here, it’s what we choose to do with it. How and when we express anger, is a choice. This is very much a work in progress for me, and as ever, alternative stories and perspectives are exceedingly welcome.

I’ve identified two different anger inducing situations for me. The first is impersonal – a response to sexism, casual or deliberate, to things that enable rape culture, racism, pedalling misinformation, hypocrisy and the such. The vast majority of anything said by anyone from UKIP and quite a lot of other political stuff too, in fact. I wade in and I comment. I make a point of being as polite as I can with this, because feeling entitled to be rude is a lot of what enables the other side in these fights. I’m not doing it with any hope of winning, but some possibility that others, getting to compare me being polite and rational with the hateful raving, might decide they don’t want to support the haters. It’s worth a try. While the clashes I get into are often wearing, I know what I’m doing and why and I feel fairly confident about it.

The personal stuff is a lot harder. I don’t feel confident about my entitlement to personal anger. If someone seems rude, unkind or aggressive in their treatment of me, my default is still to step back, and the urge is still to apologise and assume blame and responsibility. That’s been a big problem for me historically and has left me vulnerable, so I’m trying not to do it. Where possible, what I do is step away to explore my responses without the source of emotion present. If I can get a second opinion, I will. A wider context can help establish what is fair, reasonable, normal, etc. That enables me to make more informed judgements about how I’m handling things. I will talk to people I trust to see if it looks likely that I’m in the wrong. If it is necessary to go back and say anything, it will be calm and considered.

I’ve never said anything in anger that I didn’t mean and later had to retract. I have a great deal of difficulty with people who use ‘I was angry’ to excuse this. If honour is central to Druidry, then your word is everything, and if you speak carelessly, or say things in rage that are not meant, where does that leave your honour? I find I’m more comfortable with people who own what they do in anger, who meant what they said and are not ashamed to own it in hindsight. That’s a good deal easier to respect, even if I do choose to step away from them, than the person who lashes out, and in a desire to seem nice, later puts the lie to their own words.

I am convinced that it is possible to feel, express and honour anger- our own and other people’s – without falling into a shouty, aggressive, dysfunctional and dishonourable state.

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

12 responses to “Angry Druid

  • Catherine Crayton

    Another timely and thoughtful piece. As a woman, I always cried when I was angry. I didn’t have any other outlet. I do try and step away and then later write like mad what I felt like saying at that point in time to let it have a voice and then defuse. Still working on this one, I am a work in progress. Also thank you for the link to the other post, beautifully said as well.

  • Christopher Blackwell

    Any emotion not expressed simmers and festers and then may come out at someone not responsible. As for women, anger is as much theirs as it is for men. I do think that some man made that rule that women should not get angry. Few men want to take on an angry woman, especially if the man is the reason for the anger. [Grin]

  • syrbal-labrys

    My own mother was quiet, biddable and publicly the sweet face of womanhood, but in private to me? Ah…coruscating acid — verbal abuse constantly if I was fortunate and physical abuse if I was not. I took her life as a precautionary tale and always voiced my anger. I do so in reasonable measured tones at first, until I find it unheard — then the motto is “If you call the Bitch, she WILL come.” Anger is a shield, for me, my protection against further abuse or neglect. A shield, not a weapon.

  • Little Green Footsteps

    I agree, a timely topic for me. And Jo’s writing is wonderful too. Unfortunately I’m one of those who’s got into the bad habit of bottling it up and then after a while it explodes. Or it turns inwards. It’s something I’m working on right now and as both of you have said I think, the key is taking that time to step back, re-group and form a response.
    Thanks again for sharing x

  • ashimabinny

    i am really very bad at expressing so i try writing whatever there s in my mind …but i think its better to express your emotions 🙂

  • angharadlois

    I like that comment, “anger is a shield, not a weapon” – that, for me, is exactly how honourable anger should be used. Anger can strengthen boundaries, give you a strong and grounded sense of morality and justice, but it has to be used wisely.
    As for saying things you didn’t mean, “in the heat of the moment”… I agree with what you say; my problem is when the balance swings too far the other way. If I get carried away by my temper (which happens less and less, now I feel safer), I often say things which are terrible and hurtful and, worst of all, true. Truth is often held up as a great virtue, but it has the capacity to hurt as well as heal; truth mixed with anger can combat great injustices, but taken too far it can become a kind of tyranny as well. Kindness is where the balance comes in.

    • Nimue Brown

      Very good points. I’ve said some pretty awful but true things in anger, too. Sometimes it takes the energy of anger to find the courage to say what needs saying, but the balance between needful truth and compassion is a tricky one. Sometimes the least helpful thing you can do for a person is be nice to them and let them stay comfortably where they are. But that has to be balanced against not becoming arrogant and assuming I know what other people *really* need. No easy answers here.

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