I am a bundle of feelings this morning. Not ALL the feelings. Mostly, anger. Rage even. I can feeling it dripping down into my hands, making my chest feel tight. I almost feel as though I AM rage. And I don’t know what to do with it. I’m afraid of it, really. Afraid of what it might do if I release it.
Rage had left me for a time. Or had burrowed down under the rotting leaves of my marital tree. Trying to find warmth, a safe place to sleep until it was fully formed and ready to come out into the light and shed its skin.
The arguments in my head are making my stomach turn. I have to attend a meeting with my son’s school district this morning and I’m thinking of just sitting quietly while other people decide what will happen with him. But I know I cannot. The mother in me rages, maybe most of all. Am I, after everything I’ve been through, lived with and worked to heal, angry with myself as well? I hate self-loathing and yet I know it lived in me, tried to eat me from the inside out. I want to be like the screaming girls in the Witcher series and scream until everything around me gets blown away and torn down. I want to tear everything down. And since the self-loathing was born from the hands of men, it’s their world I want to pull down. I would see everything they’ve ever touched turned to dust.
Guess this post has turned into a vent, which is ok because, after all, I did name this space a vent blog.
There are a few things troubling me now. One, what do I do right now? How do I attend this meeting and not vent my rage at the people trying to help my son, even if their help comes within a system that the patriarchy created and maintains? Two, what do I do with this rage when I come home? I’ve waited all these years to own it as my own. I thought it had maybe left me, not simply slept until I had the strength to hold it. It feels like a right I’ve earned and at the same time a curse. Yet another thing my father and the others who hurt me have left me to deal with. I don’t give a fuck if they’re out there dealing with their own shit. Why do I have to hold another thing they’ve left me with?
I had to stop writing and let myself cry the rage out a bit. I think I’ve been waiting for it to bubble up and that’s why I’ve been listening to my instinct to do restful things and have a lot of space. I was still taken by complete surprise when it finally arose. It’s big and deep and wide and I don’t yet know just how vast. I took a shower, planning to pull myself together for my son’s meeting but there’s ice on the roads and apparently my tires are bald. So here I am, back again, right where I need to be. And I’m listening to an old friend’s first album, the album I listened to over and over again while I was writing my Master’s thesis on incest survivors and dreams. I haven’t listened to it for years because she hasn’t put it on Spotify but it’s as familiar as my own breath and sings about the trials of being a woman and she does it with grace and insight.
I need so much space right now (that need feels as vast as my rage) and I feel intensely protective of what I’m giving myself. The slightest perceived transgression of that space sets off my rage, especially if it’s a man stepping into it. I don’t want anyone, particularly a man, wanting anything from me that resembles romance or sexual intimacy. In the story of the Handless Maiden, the maiden submits to the devil’s will and the poor bargain her father made. She submits without anger or trying to escape. What the actual fuck?! And yet, I do understand. It’s not as though I started fighting back against my own father until I was in my mid to late teens. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, author of Women Who Run with the Wolves, writes of this part of the story:
The daughter has done remarkably well considering the circumstances. Yet we are numb once we have passed through this stage and realize what has been done to us, how we surrendered to the will of the predator and the frightened father so that we wound up being made handless.
I get it and it’s also frustrating to me that not once in this story is the maiden referred to as angry or resentful against the predator, her father, or the patriarchal system that has created the circumstances in which such a horrific thing could be done to an innocent child. Maybe that’s part of what she does while she’s at the house in the woods. Estes says this part of the story was lost. She also says nothing is lost in the psyche, so we can reconstruct what is missing. She believes the work done there was one in which the maiden comes to know herself and to regenerate her hands; part of that work is learning to let oneself feel and express feelings. I have to assume that learning to rage was one of the tasks the maiden takes on.
In her book, Descent to the Goddess: A Way of Initiation for Women, Sylvia Brinton Perera writes that when Inanna returns from her death in the underworld,
Inanna comes up loathesome and claiming her right to survive. She is not a beautiful maid, daughter of the fathers, but ugly, selfish, ruthless, willing to be very negative, willing not to care.
That seems like a more reasonable and accurate response to being sacrificed and left to rot by the patriarchy. I relate to that. I feel ugly, messy, selfish, demanding my right to survive and filled sometimes with negativity and ruthless uncaring. It’s all fueled by rage and underneath that a rooted knowing that I have a right to exist as I am, that I stand firm in. Along those lines, Perera also writes:
We know this demonic return of the repressed power shadow. Although it stands ultimately for life, it often erutps in birth and takes a lot of taming. It may be a “rough beast,” or it may, indeed, merely feel fearsome when a woman comes out of hiding to stand her ground–to herself and/or those around her.
I am a rough beast right now. And I will not give up my territory of grief and rage. I will prowl them like a hungry bear wandering the boundaries of her land after waking up from a long winter’s hibernation, ready to roar in the face of anyone wandering too close. I will find trees on which to rub the dead fur of outdated ideas. I will find the berries of new ways of being and gobble them up by the bushel. And when I grow hungry for something more sustaining, when the time is right, I will make my way down to the salmon run, growl my way past other bears and take my up my position near a small waterfall where the clear, cold water will refresh my spirit and the fish of life-sustaining activities will practically jump into my mouth and I’ll grow stores of fat to help me through the lean times to come. I will move, solitary, across the mountains and valleys of my past, moving towards a now in which I can rest and hibernate again.