Rage is a powerful and scary emotion.
I grew up around it. My father had a temper. He was not taller than 5' 7" but when he raged, those numbers meant nothing and he was a giant. His nick name was "Hot Rod" simply because he ran hot and he liked fast cars. When he was angry, he was a tumultuous storm of dark and uncontrollable energy. I remember thinking that when he was enraged, he was similar to a dog that was frothing at the mouth....ready to attack and eat you alive. And it was scary.
I remember being afraid when I could hear my parents arguing. My bed was up against the common wall that my parents bedroom and I shared. I could hear his stomping around the room as he yelled and swore... Eventually he'd stomp right out of the room and out the front door slamming it on his way out. I also remember the peaceful and yet somehow strange stillness that followed those dramatic exits.
When my father got angry, he got this look in his eyes. It was a look that said, there is no way anyone can win this against me. I am blind to what's in front of me. I only can see what I want and I will have it. In those moments, it was best to just step out of the way.
One evening when I was about 12 years old, my father caught a mouse. We lived on the edge of a wildlife sanctuary, and there were a lot of critters around our house, geckos, centipedes, mongoose, and rats and mice come with the territory. I think a mouse was eating some of his fishing gear in the garage and he was upset...very upset. And he was also drunk that night. I should also say here that my father was an animal lover. We always had dogs and cats and he loved them all very much. I think I inherited his love for animals. But this night, he was in a rage and he had caught this mouse in a little red fishing net. And he was so mad at this little creature that he was going to set it on fire and burn it alive. He was pouring butane lighter fluid on it and was about to set it on fire. I was horrified, petrified for the pain that this little innocent animal was going to experience...and I could NOT allow him to hurt this little being. He was screaming at it and I was screaming at him to stop and he was screaming at me not to touch the mouse... and somehow out of nowhere, I tapped into this energy - this anger, this powerful cou-rage despite how extremely scared I was. I was somehow able to run up to the mouse and let him go before my Dad could light the match. I was sure my dad was going to kill me... I was terrified, but I had to save this innocent creature and my need to save the creature was greater than my need to survive that night as a young pre-teen girl. I don't know what came over me, but I stood up to my father and his rage, and I stopped him with my cou-rage and let that mouse go. I tapped into something that night made my father's rage stop in its tracks. I found my own rage. And she was powerful. My twelve year old rage was able to stop his rage in his tracks. And she saved the life of that little creature. I noticed this.
My father never hit me. He was not physically violent with me. But he was certainly energetically violent and the threat of those outbursts created a very tense home life for all of us. Despite our family's exterior appearance of being a happy family. But when I learned that I could stop that violent energy with my own rage, I learned a tool that was able to keep me safe. I also learned that I, and I alone, could stand up to my father when no one else could and I could stop him. But it only happened if I tapped into my rage. It's like I could speak his language. And in some strange way it eventually became like a bond that felt like love.
When I was older, I got sick and had to have a pretty serious surgery. I was about 33 or so. Both my mom and my dad flew in from Hawaii and came out to see me. Even my brother came. I had just come home from the surgery and was very out of it and in a lot of pain, and there was an outburst of sorts and my dad got enraged. And even at that moment where they were supposed to be there to help me, I had to find my strength and courage and specifically my rage to put him in his place. I remember channeling that force, that energy, steadying myself for the outburst that was to come. It came, and it was a force.. it was quieter but just as powerful in energy. I remember, I was seeing red. I was in excruciating pain which made the rage stronger...which in turn made him stop acting out. And much to my surprise, after our interaction, he actually stopped, left and then later returned and apologized to me. It was a shock to all of us. My father never apologized. Even my mom told me she was shocked that he apologized and that he had never apologized to her. But my rage was stronger than his, and it stopped the storm and made us all safe in those moments. I learned something again.
What I learned was that rage could stop things, and restore peace. When my rage came out, whether in the form of courage or just plain rage, no one would get in my way. My rage was the only thing that could stop my dad. And it later became something that I could use to stop anything that was hurting me or putting me in harm's way. People were afraid of my rage. It's like she was my warrior spirit and she would take care of anything that hurt me. She was just what I needed to keep me safe. But recently I noticed that she was no longer working for me, but rather she was working against my own happiness.
My father passed away in 2013. He died in his sleep of a heart attack after surviving base of tongue cancer and colon cancer and a few heart attacks. I took care of him when he moved out to LA to have his treatments. It was an arduous road. Eventually, he moved back home, because he wanted to be there if he passed. And early one March morning in 2013, at 5:00 am I got a call from his caretakers... telling me he had passed in his sleep.
The relationship I had with my father was complicated but was also full of love...and I will share more in a future blog post. I learned a lot about life from my father. He was such strong force in my life and in many ways I am that apple that didn't fall far from the tree. In fact, I might have rolled back closer to the tree as I got older. I definitely got his rage, whether I wanted it or not.
So, cut to 2020 and I'm looking at my life with a magnifying glass. I’m healing the parts that need to heal. I've started my blog, my podcast ( which will release soon so stay tuned in) and I'm working on a book. I'm not in a serious relationship and spending a lot of time with myself. I also have incredible friends who are helping me process the pieces of my beautiful and unique life. And, I'm looking at what no longer serves me. Rage is one of those things. I've finally realized that this rage I needed in order to be my father's daughter, to earn his respect and love, the rage that kept me safe and alive is no longer needed in my adult life. And now, it hurts me instead of helps me. I actually woke up one day and realized, the time for rage had come to a close. I‘m sure it sounds strange to say that it just ended. But it did.
I have learned other ways to handle situations, I have found better ways to keep myself safe in this world, that don’t require me to tap into rage. I‘ve learned I can set boundaries with people and situations that feel dangerous. I don’t have to interact with other people anger. I can respectfully decline things that aren’t for me. I can lovingly walk away from people and situations that hurt me. I can share my emotions with compasssion and love and peace in the forefront and allow my vulnerability and truth to always be at the heart of how I interact Without the constant fear of being hurt. And, if the person I’m interacting with gets heated, (those who were raised around rage, usually attract it in partners) I can end the interaction with a calm determination becuase I am now a fully formed adult who has the capabilities to take care of herself. I’m no longer that child who had no way to stand up to an adult. And, the most important part is - I trust that now. I trust myself now. So rage no longer needs to be my protector. I am my own protector. And when I say that, I mean ”I” with all the skills and tools I have learned through my journey of healing.
All these years, I was using rage to protect myself in this crazy business, and to protect those I cared for. But putting out that kind intense energy as a protective field when I sensed danger, (real or just perceived) came at a cost. It depleted me. It also isolated me. After rage happens and I don't mean violence, I just mean the energy and emotion of rage, there is a party called shame. And shame is unhealthy to have as well. Sure, we get what we want, people often give in to someone who is enraged. But it’s not worth all that comes with it.
The truth for me is that my own rage has helped me get to where I am in my lifr. I used the powerful emotion of rage to keep me going...you see when you use it on yourself, it becomes a fierce determination. It becomes a NO QUIT attitude, it becomes life or death that you will find your way to what you want, no matter the pain. And so you succeed because with that fight or flight intensity.... you will of course survive. I believe that’s what appears to be the good side of rage...you could call it as a form of courage. But even then, when you exist in fight or flight at all times, you deplete your life force - especially if you continuously use it on things that are not actually life threatening.
So, I have finally realized that rage no longer serves my life. She has been a dear friend and a protector when no one else was there for me. She has been a motivator to keep going when most would stop. She has given me strength beyond what I should have Had. And I am so grateful. But now as a 52 year old adult, I have learned other ways to protect myself and my heart, and pursue my dreams. So, at 52, I would like to say thank you to my rage. Thank you for keeping me safe, for earning my father's love, for protecting my fragile heart, for helping me towards my dreams. But it's time for you to retire into a beautiful place and let go of your grip on me. I'm in control now of how I will react to things. I will use other ways to pave my path. I will allow the path to unfold as I create healthy boundaries that do not require rage to keep people a safe distance from me. I will flow with the events of my life and not fight them. I will learn to use my voice, my love, my compassion and empathy instead. I have already begun the journey of the life without rage, and It has been a long journey to let go of this once invaluable part of myself. And I look forward to how my life will unfold now.
I envision my rage now as a wild and powerful goddess. She's a warrior with bloodied shields and matted dark hair, and stained body armor. And I see her now, finally getting of her wild horse, near a quiet stream. She slowly removes her armor and puts down her shield and swords... she kneels beside the river and washes away the blood of years of battle. She steps into the water, after removing all her cloaks and well used and duty armor and bathes away all the years of pain and fatigue. When she emerges from the waters, darker and muddier after her presence, she is made anew, a body without any wounds... and her skin glistens in all it's beautiful femininity and vulnerability. She gently takes her tools of war and drys them off and puts them under a tree. She takes one last look at them, then slowly turns the other way, bare skin, completely nude and soaks in the sun and breathes in her new peaceful life as a peaceful goddess...a hint of a smile upon her lips as her eyes close and she lifts her chin ever so slightly towards the sun and walks away.
Have a beautiful day and thank you for sharing your time with me today, here at Carrie Ann Conversations.