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Anger was a challenging, elusive, frightening emotion for me during healing. Growing up, I had witnessed it blowing up without apparent reason. I had seen it used to terrify, abuse, and cower. It had soaked into the fabric of my family until it dampened even the sunniest moments.

I grew up believing anger was a malignancy I wanted to avoid at all costs. Though I couldn’t stop it in others, I became a powerful sheriff arresting any lawless anger that threatened to escape in my own reactions. I learned how to capture it and put it away without recognizing it had dared to threaten my thoughts.

I learned to cope by completely shutting down this emotion, but healing asks us to find our way back to our authentic self. It acknowledges all feelings are a gift of self-awareness when we learn how to express them in ways that honor our relationships.

I had to dig deep to find my anger. Recognizing it would bring insight, I invited it, even begged myself to have the courage to be with that emotion and trust it wouldn’t destroy me or those I loved. One day, I realized I needed to see this old enemy if I was going to make it my friend. It was a jagged, dark, darting force, but the drawing showed me it couldn’t destroy. It was contained by waves of my spirit.

Step by step, I became reacquainted with this very natural, necessary emotion. First I recognized it. Then I wrote about it. One day, I expressed it! I felt like I was blowing the roof off my life, but my husband and kids told me I had done nothing more than raise my voice and express my feelings. We celebrated my huge breakthrough.

While I had to uncover my anger, I know other survivors feel it has been a persistent, stormy presence in their reactions. We have to travel from different directions to embrace its empowering possibilities, but I believe it’s a worthy ally. It shows up to tell us we have come to a circumstance that does not honor our spirit. It asks us to set new, uncomfortable boundaries. It is a road sign to guide us and help us take care of ourselves.