“To be a healer, you need to be wounded. But when you’re wounded, you’re angry.”
That’s the jist of a lot of what we talked about in CPE last week. Those of us who go in to helping professions do so because we are in some way wounded. All wounds involve pain of some sort, be it emotional, social or spiritual. While we can work through that pain, we often avoid the anger going along with that pain.
Most of us hardly even know that we’re angry though. We call it something else, avoid it, smash it down. Personally I find that I’ve done this all the time and continue to do so. Anger is for me (I initially wrote “was”, but that’s not honest) a cardinal sin. I guess we all have some sin that is “the big one” that we avoid at all costs. Other sins are forgivable, but for me, not anger.
I think that for me it’s not due to seeing too much anger and disagreement – it’s seeing not enough of it. My parents rarely fought, and discord was not tolerated in the home. God never tells you to be angry at people, because anger is the opposite of love. Anger, therefore, is sin. If you were angry with someone you must hate them, and hate is wrong. And if you’re angry at someone they’ll hate you back and love will be lost forever. Make sense? No, not to me either.
I was at a facility yesterday where a couple of the staff were watching a show featuring a young girl with severe anorexia. Her arguments and rationalizations for her behavior were bizarre and nonsensical, and this was plainly aware to anyone on the outside. “She thinks she’s fat!“, one nurse shouted. The girl recognized that her beliefs regarding her self-image didn’t make sense-at times. But she always rationalized: “I eat some“, “some” in this case meaning pita bread with mustard.
In the same way I rationalize my own anger away. “It’s not a big deal – don’t make it one.” “Turn the other cheek.” “Whatever.” “Just go along with it for now.”
The path to healing and being a healer, though, lies not with avoiding the anger that is there but in going through it. If I am Angry, to deny it is to deny part of my self. Worse, how can I help someone who is angry when I haven’t really even dealt with my own anger?
This will be an ongoing struggle, I’m sure.