I’ve been wondering a lot lately about the connection between rage and grief. Following an outburst several months ago at my support group where a lot of anger came up about being the end in line and there being no time to share because others had not considered the time and other people’s need, a week in which I had faced reading about my mother’s reactions to me as a small child that showed a theme of misunderstanding and rejection a friend in group told me that her sponsor had said to her of her own healing process. “Follow the anger and there you will find the grief.”
Lately, following a foot injury that came on the back of some very hurtful stuff said about me to someone by my sister, I’ve been feeling a lot of hurt amidst the gratitude for other positive gifts in my life.
Today as I sat on the floor in the kitchen crying with my dog Jasper sitting very close and protectively holding the space for me, the thought came to me as a voice in my head “at the moment you need to let yourself mourn”.
There is a lot to mourn, and in this I don’t want to seem like I am turning a blind eye to the many things I have to be grateful for, but there have also been many things to grieve. I had a conversation with my nephew who is also struggling with issues of rage which he has connected to deep grief around his relationship with my older sister who died this year.
In the middle of the night this week I had an urge to do a google search on the connection between rage and grief. What came up was an excellent talk by the writer Judith Butler where she explores the connection between the two. She expresses many deep psychological truths so eloquently in this talk and she speaks of the letting go process which I guess to me relates to the letting go of that which is outside of our power to control in life : death, endings, betrayals, lack of affirmation all fall under this umbrella.
What we do have the power over is to allow ourselves to let go into the process of mourning, rather than resist and deny. I don’t think it is very easy in our culture to do this, but I think so many of us want and need to do it. Where we get stuck in the anger and rage (which is a natural phase of the process of facing grief and change) we may hold on too tightly to that rage as a way of maintaining control but then the process of deeper transformation can be aborted and we can end up more wounded
In a way held anger that isn’t resolved is like a saying to life that difficult, people, things and circumstances should not be. The truth is that when painful things happen to us it hurts. We don’t like being hurt and so we rage, but what if we felt the hurt and allowed ourselves to enter the heart of it, not by holding on but by letting go into it, allowing it to work its way out and lead us in the direction we need to go? That is perhaps a direction which would not have occurred without enduring that loss or painful experience.
In her talk, Judith Butler talks about mourning and grieving as being a process of undoing, a transformative journey which every fibre of our being can resist and yet into the heart of this transformation is the very place we need to go. So much of grief is out of our control, loss takes us to a space and place where the world we knew is irrevocably changed. And by that change, we too, are irrevocably changed.
The letting go into grief for me at the moment feels like an acceptance of the pain and through this acceptance is a letting be so the feelings can work through. For me, it is a saying NO to certain involvements around this time of year. For me I am feeling at this time a real need to be in the centre of my own life, for it is here that I am connected to my own heart and healing. I need the silence and stillness of this place to hear my own song, to see how it differs from the songs of others and yet also connects me to humanity.
When I touch this place where everything is allowed to exist and to BE I am no longer caught up in the doing, much of which I am now seeing is a distraction from the place of stillness and wholeness which feeds me at a very deep level.
I am aware of the damaging voices of the collective which try to tell us there is something wrong with being alone, “be careful you aren’t isolating”, that who we are only depends on what we possess, our relationships, outer circumstances. Why can’t we see that in being alone we are not really alone but rather at home with ourselves; that in choosing to be we are not contracting but expanding into something infinite and large. We aren’t shutting out the world in defence, just seeking a place of quiet, solace and sanctuary within which we can know our true home and experience our deeper selves.
Need for quiet time, is for me one of the most essential of needs. Quiet time leads me home and refreshes me and makes the next involvement possible.
The retreat within to feel the truth of sadness and grief as well as the joy and peace that are the outgrowth of acceptance of things as they are enables life to move forward. It is not a deathly retreat but a retreat or regression for the purpose of moving forward.
It is where I am choosing to live now especially as my wounded ankle tries to heal and I feel the reverberations of that experience that have run like a thread not only through my life, but through the lives of others. Today I am feeling such gratitude for this place of sanctuary and feeling the love that comes with the process of allowing and letting be.