I’ve suffered through a few breakups in my life, but this one has got to be the hardest. Today I’m deciding to let go of my anger. My anger and I haven’t actually been together all that long, but the seeds for our passionate partnership were sown way back, back before I even knew what anger was, back before I trained my eye to be sharp in its observation and sure in its judgments. It has always been there somewhere; I have felt it in different ways, as I think we all do – in those moments when we feel uncomfortable but can’t quite put a finger on why, or react in ways that are disproportionate to any given situation. I have only come to know anger for what it truly is recently because I made space for it in my heart and my mind. By the time anger and I became acquainted, I was ready, waiting with open arms and hungry for its presence.
See anger offered me something to grab onto: a torch in a world that is constantly throwing darkness my way, a lifeline in a sea of unrelenting helplessness. Anger was there in moments when I felt that there was nothing. Anger was there in those times when I didn’t start crying because I felt that I would never stop. Anger helped me to become who I am at this very moment, a person who gives less and less of a fuck every single day watching all this tragedy happening all around me. Anger allowed me to feel unafraid, because when you’re giving a big fuck you to the world then it doesn’t matter what people think of you. My anger is what has pushed me to put myself in challenging positions that I knew only had growth on the other side, since I was not about to let ANY motherfucker tell me what I can and can’t do, no sir, not I said the angry black girl. My anger has protected me from falling susceptible to all the temptations of who Kendrick calls Lucy – – well not all of them, but certainly the ones that I can see and not have one fucking ounce of time for, like these most brilliant/bullshit temptations that have us women acting partially out of Stockholm Syndrome… (and if only it were that easy.)
I loved my anger fiercely. It gave me power where power is taken away from me; self-cultivated power, not the kind that takes away the agency of others. Where I would be without my anger today is not something I want to even think about. But the time has come for me to say goodbye, as painfully as it wrenches my heart to do so. Our relationship isn’t going anywhere, and the only future we have together is one full of bitterness and, well, hate. I ask myself what more anger can do for me and the answer is… nothing. It doesn’t serve me anymore, nor any purpose higher than myself, as good as it feels to have it in my life and as much as it always seems to be an option. It is so hard to let go of my anger, because what comes in its place must be acceptance. My anger doesn’t want me to make room for acceptance, because that would feel like surrender to all of the things that allowed us to come together in the first place. If I’m not angry anymore, then how can I sit here and claim to care about all of the things in this world that we should justifiably be fucking PISSED about? How can I feel all the suffering of my brothers and sisters and not be fucking angry? If my whole worldview is informed by the bleeding of my heart for all of the unnecessary suffering that oppression and dehumanization cause, then letting go of my anger can almost feel as though my world is crashing down around me. It can feel like I am regressing, back to the stage of myself that couldn’t yet recognize my anger for what it was because I was too conditioned not to do so, to be complacent and indifferent. Ignorance may be bliss, but it is certainly a fucked-up version of bliss where one can’t actually identify the things that are making them suffer (and so instead we do our best to convince ourselves that “everything is okay” when everything is not okay. It is super fucking not okay.)
But the truth is, letting go of my anger isn’t regression. I needed to be together with anger for a bit, for all of the wonderful things that it did give me, and all of the clarity of vision that I now have. But I can only just feel for so long before my feelings become redundant and I am sitting at a state of stagnation, giving no positive energies to myself or to those around me. And the hardest part to admit is that while it feels oh, so, so good to be with my anger sometimes, anger takes up space where love and compassion could exist. Anger gets along better with the very things that create it in the first place, and while it is easy to think that love is blinding us to the things that we should be angry about, it works the other way around too, where anger blinds us to the possibilities and potentials for love within ourselves, for ourselves, for others and for all living things. I can choose to sit here with all of my anger while the cogs of the giant oppression machine that is our world continue to turn, or I can decide it is time to let go and make room in my heart for an energy that distorts that turning; to make room for love, which I believe is the only thing that can truly, truly resist oppression.
I asked myself today: what kind of person do I want to be? I am still that person whose whole way of moving throughout this world carries within it sorrow and grief for all of the ways in which we are hindered from being fully human, but I can no longer let anger take up space where love ought to be. Cherrie Moraga says that anger is just a mask for grief, and this is true. Now it is time for me to see my grief for what it is, and to allow my grieving, my sadness, my love, and my hopes to reside together in a new unity… it is time to say my tearful goodbyes to my anger, and move on to greater things.