The explosions that erupt after I have held my tongue for too long, endured too much, or suffered under oppressive conditions with a forced plastic smile is not a source of pride for me.
As a child, my mother's screams scared me out of fighting back. At first, my anger showed itself in the form of acne. After that, stomach and lung problems. After that, it was drinking and smoking at the age of 13. I searched and searched for ways to handle existing within the confines of "manageable", but it was just too constricting. I kept damaging myself in order to stay calm.
Therapy for decades. Food allergies. Relationships that exploded in drama. Jobs that ended with my middle finger on my way out the door. All of this because I was trained by my parents, teachers, bosses, and those I chose to call friends and partners, that my anger was not acceptable. That my reaction to pain was inappropriate. That I was scary. That I am scary.
When I was in my twenties, my dad told me that you only get angry around the people you trust. That being angry is a risk. Now that I am in my forties, I see that this is true. I also see that I don't have to be afraid of getting angry. I have been carrying around the fear that my anger will prove to the world that I am unlovable.
But its not real. I have been trained to believe that an angry woman is an ugly woman; a sublime irony in a world full of angry men. When I am irrationally angry, it means I really haven't been taking care of myself. I have allowed myself to shrink so that someone else can be more comfortable in my presence.
Shrinking is awful and small, but somehow I have managed to do horrible things from that position. My muscles pull at the bone, my knees scream from holding a bend for too long, and my back curls in on itself...it is the fetal shrink of fear and loathing and self-doubt, and I have chosen it.
But this choice has grown sour in my mouth.
I will choose differently. I have decided to be okay with my pain, my anger, my hurt, to be real about it. I am going to be ALL of me, because I need to stand up straight, stretch my back and see what this old body can do. I want to see what using everything I have might look like.
I caught a glimpse of this when I first laid my ears on heavy metal, and now, with kickboxing, (thirty years later) I see what I have been hoping to believe but never dared to. That it is not that I am scary. It is that the people who would paint me as such will not listen. They will not sit with me and accept all of who I am. I realize this is huge. Very few people in the world are capable. Very few people in the world are able to accept all of themselves. We are trained not to.
But it is vital. I will stop fighting against anything and start fighting for everything.