I like to gaze blankly out the kitchen window at the yard as I prepare meals. Today’s prep involved vigorously massaging my kale. Massage is a not really the right word so much as scrunched, smashed and death-gripped. Thank you kale, for your hideous yet nutritious contribution to tonight’s meal (kale salad soooo spicy with air fried tofu). It’s only by taking on my rage that you become something that doesn’t take 15 minutes per bite to chew.
It can be therapeutic to do some cooking that requires manual labor. I brought my frustrations and angst to play in order to squeeze Mr. Kale’s leaves and break up the little tough parts. I have heard that kneading dough and punching it can bring relief to the assaults of the day. Tenderizing meat can bring fear into the hearts of your family members (in a good way) and remind them that you control the sustenance and the weapons of the household. I signaled this to my husband by making intense eye contact while using a rolling pin to smash up croutons.
I have found myself snapping a bit more lately, ironically not long after I finish my morning meditations. It’s almost as if I have set the precedent that today must be a calm and centered day, and then upon the first mild irritant I go off! Why is this? Probably because there is a buildup of anger, perhaps a little denial of our current reality, a heavy dose of irritations and a cup full of missing my friends and family.
When it’s time for our natural anger to come out, it must be recognized, expressed and released. This may happen ritualistically, physically, creatively, or all of the above. Our anger is not to be transformed into sadness and let loose to wreak havoc upon ourselves. It must be recognized and dealt with so that it won’t poison. If the “good girl” insists on refusing to express it, she may take it inward instead and refuse to acknowledge her feelings and herself. Another alternative is that the anger will spill out at those we love in very counter-productive ways, or turn itself inward, becoming depression. Our bodies experience physical symptoms and ill health when we try to repress strong emotions like anger. Alain de Botton argues in one of his School of Life videos below that many of us may need anger lessons to learn how to feel angry.
“I myself cried when I got angry, then became unable to explain why I was angry in the first place. Later I would discover this was endemic among female human beings. Anger is supposed to be “unfeminine” so we suppress it -until it overflows. I could see that not speaking up made my mother feel worse. This was my first hint of the truism that depression is anger turned inward; thus women are twice as likely to be depressed. My mother paid a high price for caring so much, yet being able to do so little about it. In this way, she led me toward am activist place where she herself could never go.”― Gloria Steinem, My Life on the Road