Removing Anger: How to get through the real deep sh*t
I just spent the last seven months of my pregnancy trying to make a relationship work with the father. We got pregnant on a first date and after dating for a few weeks, called it quits – only to find out we were pregnant. My initial gut instinct was to do it on my own, I didn’t feel he had any desire to be a father and truth be told, he was not that into me. But he wanted to be involved and he wanted to be in a relationship, and I wanted to try that too. I believed we could be great friends and parents at the very least.
The relationship didn’t work out, he ended up cheating on me and hitting on one of my friends and it hurt me really bad. I left to go back to Canada (I was living in Guatemala at the time) to see if that was maybe a better option. While I was away, I told him he could be there as a father but I needed some time to process the breakup. While I was gone, we fought constantly, he didn’t help me with anything to do with his daughter and he soon moved on to going out late and sleeping with anyone who would take him. Normal breakup stuff right? Frankly, this is the kind of thing I gave up when I got into meditation and yoga. I don’t process by self harming or distracting anymore – maybe it’s a harder path up front, but the payoff is better.
I returned to Guatemala determined to work out something with the father – he seemed genuinely into being a father, and I didn’t want to let my personal feelings get in the way of that. I had convinced myself that all was fair in love and war but that his behaviour towards me in a breakup did not reflect how he would be as a parent. After a few weeks of trying a friendship thing, we fell back into a relationship. And it was good. We spent every day together, we were working on what was hard and what was exciting about becoming parents – I felt he was becoming my best friend and my partner and I had convinced myself that the uneasy feeling in my gut was just old wounds of cheating echoing in my body.
Six weeks later I found out that not only was he cheating on me the entire time, he had hit on the majority of my friends in a small town and none of them told me; he’d told everyone that he had no feelings for me (while telling me daily that he loved me), that I was forcing him to be with me or he couldn’t have a relationship with his daughter (yeah! it’s a girl), and in some cases that he hated me. He was having unprotected sex with women whom he knew had STDs and putting my body and our baby at risk and even telling his co-workers that I was behind internet troubles they were having. My life in a small town was incredibly isolated and controlled and I was reliant on him physically, emotionally and financially. In a foreign country, with no one on my team; no family or close friends, I felt really crazy at points and really depressed. This went on slowly over time, it didn’t happen in a day – but at 6.5 months pregnant I realized I had to leave if I was going to get some sanity and safety for me and my daughter.
My family and friends at home had mounted enormous pressure on me to return to Canada, something I didn’t want to do, but they were relentless in pursuing me and that pressure only made me more isolated and vulnerable for my partner to manipulate. His family was also pressuring me to stay and even though it seemed they cared about me, they often spoke to me and about me as merely a vessel for their grandchild or spied on me for their son.
At seven months pregnant, I moved to Mexico. When I confronted the father, he was remorseful at first, but this time it was hard to believe, not with gynaecologist appointments to find out if I had herpes or chlamydia, or anything else, and as the lies started coming out from my few friends in a small town. And when I didn’t fall in line, he threatened me, he viciously attacked me with his family, claiming I had ruined his social media profile, as if it were a tit for tat – I broke his Facebook so he put my body at risk? He started to call me names and make claims to anyone that would listen that I was psycho and took away his chance at being there as a father. Truth be told, he has never really been there for his kid – not without my involvement. It has always been understood that if I leave, he wants nothing to do with her; but if I stay, he will support me and her in every way. There has been a lot of talk. I have left the door open to him to attend the birth and to his family to come visit and meet my daughter any time, but none of them seem interested in her if I’m not in the fold.
Having been in town for a week, my eyes and heart a lot more clear, I am left with incredible amounts of anger. Anger at myself for not going with my gut instinct. Anger that I was so hellbent on having a family that I was willing to let someone treat me like garbage and still go back for more. Anger at him for treating me the way he did. Anger that I can’t defend myself without getting into the mud with pigs. Anger at my family for blaming me. Anger at several people who have made this about cheating and a lovers quarrel instead of what it really is. Anger that I have been blamed for being weak like a succubus, that I am damned no matter what I do – and I’m especially angry that my daughter has no father now and somehow this is partially my fault.
When faced with this kind of anger, it’s hard to do almost anything: sleep, eat, exercise or think well. People will say to you over and over “be happy, your daughter feels everything you feel” and to those people you have a very special kind of punch-you-in-the-face anger. For me, it doesn’t work like that. I can’t just move this kind of anger like it’s nothing. If it were that easy, I wouldn’t be blogging about it now. Having sat with it in my body for a week, unable to just candy coat my way out, and worrying more and more that my poor daughter is living enveloped by this type of anger, I have decided to deal with it in the only way I know how: to sit with it and accept it – going deeply into it.
Here are some ways to work with anger, either deep and extreme like what I am going through or even just the day to day stuff that comes up.
First, never try to push anger down or away – part of why it tends to hang around and manifest into shame and guilt is because we try to avoid it or distract ourselves from it – you may even get advice from people to do this. Don’t listen to them. Period. Fear, anger, guilt and anxiety are all legit feelings and need to be addressed head on.
If you go to the gym or play team sports, get to sweating. The more you sweat, the more you can get it out. This is a good time for a hot yoga class or Power Vinyasa. This may be enough on it’s own if you are merely working out stress from work or a minor argument with a loved one. If you can arrest anger at this level then you are winning.
OSHO Dynamic Meditation:
Not for the faint of heart -this hour long meditation is some serious ish. It’s 5 parts – 4 are 10 minutes of jumping and making animal noses and screaming to music and then the last part is all about dancing and loving up your body. This is very much an in-the-body meditation which is meant to stir up whatever is trapped in your body so that you can clean the slate for each new day. I have done this meditation many times and even blacked out doing it once. It forces you to let go and face your body and allow the darkness to come up and out. You can watch this video for instructions and download the music and meditation from iTunes.
Teal Swan’s Trojan Horse Technique:
Teal Swan is a no bullshit modern guru, and I heart her so much. She has lots of great videos on Youtube where she breaks down everything from “Why Love Turns To Hate” to “How to Let Go Of A Coping Mechanism” Her story is also amazing, Google that if you have time. In her book, Shadows Before Dawn, she talks about and teaches step-by-step, how to love yourself. And it’s not just repeating “I love myself” a thousand times a day which works great if you already do, but sounds condescending to those who don’t possess it. She came up with a technique called the Trojan Horse. You take a glass of water and focus all your energy for five minutes on the water and thinking about someone you love (for me it’s my dog Slayer who passed away almost two years ago) – think of that person or event or whatever you love for five whole minutes – set a timer. Then drink the water. If this sounds hokey to you, try it for a week (and really commit to the full five minutes) then come talk to me. I dare you.
Deepak Chopra’s 7 steps to Release Emotional Turbulence:
Everyone’s favourite Oprah endorsed guru, gives an outline of seven steps to remove and/or deal with emotional turbulence in this article. Rooted in Zen Buddhism, he encourages bringing it up, identifying it, feeling into it, then locating it in your body, naming it, then writing it down, breathing it out, taking responsibility for it, letting it go, then celebrating it. His take is simple – sit quietly every day for a couple of minutes, revisiting the incident, the person, whatever and work it out of your body.
12 Step Programs:
Name it. Claim it. Dump it. It’s a popular exercise from 12 Step groups. You name what bothers you, claim your part and theirs and then let it go. You do this by writing it down, or talking to someone else about it and then giving it over to a higher power of your understanding. It sounds simple, but it works if you do it regularly. I recommend starting with something small and doing this practice every day, then working up to bigger stuff. It’s amazing how easily you can let the small stuff go with this simple technique.
Something I have been doing for years is practicing asana yoga, at least 30 minutes, then sitting in silence and observing the body. When I’m really hurt, angry, sad, anxious, fearful, shameful or guilty; it seems to come up on it’s own like emotional barf. And with my eyes closed, my hands on my heart, I just let it come out – usually it’s in the form of crying; either quiet tears, or the guttural sounds of a wounded animal. Once I feel relief, my practice is finished. This also plays into one of my favourite cures for pain: salt water. Either you need to get in the ocean, cry or sweat, but salt water often heals in a way nothing else can.
I would love to hear our feedback on how you deal with anger or if any of these techniques have worked for you. Please comment liberally.