Allowing oneself to be taught by one’s rage, thereby transforming it, disperses it. One’s energy returns to use in other areas, especially the area of creativity.
Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves
Emotion is energy in motion. It’s meant to be expressed and move in our bodies, or else the energy gets stuck in our cells. We hold on to it and carry it around: pain, sadness, anger. A buildup of resentment, a heaviness. It weighs us down, clogging us up, sapping our vitality. This does not mean that we should take it out on someone when we are angry, or wail noisily in the supermarket. But we do need to find outlets. We do need to stop apologizing for our tears. We do need to own our emotions.
We could learn from 2 year olds who have temper tantrums. They wail and stamp their feet, and then get up and move on. Again, movement. They express, let go, and can come back to happy again.
When I turned 40, I decided to leave my relationship of 13 years with the man I had thought was the love of my life. Even though he was no longer invested in our relationship and had fallen in love with someone else, he took my decision to leave as a rejection. There came a night when he spewed out cruel, unfair words, tearing down everything we had meant to each other. (Later, he asked me to forgive him and forget he ever said those things to me.)
Those words stabbed into me like knife wounds. As if my heart was being ripped apart, pain swelled up like a tsunami. I was sobbing, overwhelmed, begging him to stop. I got so ‘emotional’ that he couldn’t handle my pain and fled upstairs.
But my weeping only got more intense. I could barely breathe. Instead of telling myself to calm down, I let my emotions loose. Acting like the wounded animal I was, I instinctively went into a corner of our storeroom and curled up on the floor. My sobs got louder and louder and I started howling. I remember being a little frightened by the intensity of emotion roiling in me and tearing out of my throat. A small, vindictive part of me was enjoying the fact that I was probably freaking out my ex. Another, detached part of me was observing it all with interest: I am howling like a she-wolf in pain, how fascinating…
I have no idea how long it lasted, 5 minutes, maybe fifteen, until I was all cried out. But I distinctly remember that after, I felt much better. All the pent up emotions of the past weeks, months even, the anger, the fear, the grief, it had all poured out of me. I felt lighter. Drained, but somehow clearer.
And after that moment, the dynamics between my ex and I shifted. I had tried to be so calm and reasonable during our separation – it may be that my howling allowed him to finally understand the depth of my emotion at a primeval level. We were able to say goodbye. He helped me move into my new place. He even hung up my curtains. Looking back, I know that that moment of letting go and fully allowing myself to feel and express my pain was what allowed me to move on. To move forward. I had let the emotions take me over and they scoured me out so I could begin my life anew.
Of course, this is an extreme example. But I decided to risk sharing it here because it illustrates how important it is to feel and express our emotions.
So often we tamp them down, refuse to examine them, label them as inappropriate, inconvenient, wrong, weak.
We numb our ‘negative’ emotions and by so doing, numb all of them.
Today, I have stopped labelling my ‘negative’ emotions (anger, guilt, envy, sadness, regret, shame, etc.) as bad. They are signals, giving me information about certain situations or events in my life.
I now use specific tools to express and regularly clean out my emotions. I use my voice. I use music and movement, letting my feelings move in and out of me. As a Goddess and an alchemist, I use a powerful process called ‘swamping’ to move sadness, grief and anger through my body and most importantly, transmute them into life-affirming energy. Essentially, I take that emotional energy and turn it into love.
Today, I feel much stronger. I am a woman, and emotions move in me: high and low tides, storms, sunshine, soft rains. They come and go, and I let them move through me without judgement. She-wolf and Goddess, I remain.