The past days have been filled with anger brewing like a kettle on a raging stove. Suddenly I am angry at The World. Just like that Kettle’s water ferociously bubbles on the stove, only then to bring comfort and warmth through hot cocoa or tea, anger does too. Because, this Kettle of Anger brews proactivity and protection. Of yourself, for yourself, and of others and for others. This is something I am literally only just learning. But it feels like a life lesson well worth mastering, and trusting.
I feel like, until now, anger has been part of my life like a kettle might be for a little kid. Others around you waddle up to this mysterious piping hot and bubbling thing on the stove when they need to use it. So you have a go too. No-one is there to pour it for you one day, so you decide to try and do it yourself. Your Ma spots you and gives you a scalding, just like the kettle does right back too. You learn there and then that ‘hot’ really is dangerous, like you have always been told.
My anger went a bit like this too. I grew up with a Ma who’s Anger Kettle boiled at 194 degrees C. Her anger was out of control, abusive, violent, RED HOT, hateful and seething at the seems. And, in some ways worst of all, generally always forgotten or at least (conveniently) only half-remembered because it tended to kick up during her frequent Diabetic Hypo spells. I watched her always react in that way to anything and everything that clicked her Kettle, or sparked her stove. I steered clear of releasing or knowing my own anger, stuffing it down as far away as I could from the word Go. I did this so well and learnt this from such an early age that I didn’t even know I was doing it. Turns out it became solely channelled to myself. Any anger I felt was so beautifully directed straight to my stomach and its Oven of Self Hatred, that it didn’t even bother trying to head outside as it had soon learnt to know it would be met with nothing but a stare of ‘no space here’ from both myself and my mother. So, apart from my self-destructive anger that had no place to go but to be stuffed into that Oven, the anger I was smothered in as a child and a teen was that of my mother and her Boiling Water. Fists and fury were thrown, and scalding words were so frequently known. I took it. I cried, I sobbed, I ran away from home every few days…only to return a few hours later. I grew up thinking this was how life was. I would turn up to school with bite marks or subtle bruises, with only the puffy eyes telling the story of another crazy morn with a crazy mum. My friends knew this bit a little bit. I thought it was normal…turns out it wasn’t.
I then hit my slightly later teens, and like the child gets to a point in the Kettle story to test the kettle for themselves, I hit my point to test my position in this Anger Game too. As an athlete and a sportswoman, I was strong. I was stronger than my mum, and she knew it. So when mum gave it, I gave it back. If she touched my sister, that was when my Anger Kettle hit boiling point and started to scream. Only it didn’t scream, it would scald my mum with its boiling water through the arms of my shoving. This was the only time I would initiate or shove back ‘unprovoked’. Here lies the first example of the thread I mention at the beginning of this piece: with anger brings protection and proactivity. Okay, this is NOT healthy examples or healthy circumstances, but at least I have proof that my anger has always only ever been in protective or proactive ways. It has never been in the wild, unprovoked, crazy forms of my Ma’s. Here I was tying to protect myself and my sister. I was aiming to be proactive to bring an end to this hell that was inflicted upon our home week after week. Little did I know that this spell of fist fighting with my ma, was not the way to do it. As Ghandi so wisely says: “An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind”. But when you are fifteen and that is all you have known, that is all you know to try.
We would fight and rip, tussle and trip. I would cry desperate yells of survival and exasperation. Isolation and desperation. I would cry cries for the physical bruising and emotional scarring. She would bite, I would push. She would yell, I would scream. She would shove, I would shove back harder. And then I would run. Downstairs or out the door. Then came the sobbing and the guilt.
This spiral of physical madness between us lasted about a year. And it was fucking horrible. Nobody deserves that, ever. This was the time the violence was at its peak from her. Until then Ma’s Anger Kettle had splashed violence sporadically, both in its intensity or when it hit. The only consistency was that it was always there. In the years after this, it was just as violent from her, but purely occasional shoves of protection from me if I couldn’t duck or move fast enough. No fo’ real fighting from my corner of the ring. I was FED UP with her immaturity, her manipulation and her games. I was
After this short spell of attempted protection & proactivity, my anger diminished itself into that Oven of Self Hatred again, only to bake itself to a crisp and come out the Queen Cookie of Self Destruct. This is when my eating disorders began in all their glory and pain. And few years after this, my journey of Chronic Fatigue began too. Some schools of thought, mine included, suggest both these things (I HATE the word ‘Disorders’ so rebel against it whenever possible) manifest because of suppressed anger. I don’t believe it is ever only one thing, but I do believe suppressed anger has a mega contribution to the manifestation of such things. 100%. More on this another time.
So, no wonder anger for me has always meant RED flag for me. Just like the kettle of bubbling water becomes a red flag and a no-no for the child after getting a double edged scalding, until, however, they are old enough to learn how to manage this kettle and let it bring them the comfort of cocoa that they are so desperately wanting. That dabble of fighting with my Ma, and all the years surrounding it where I beared witness and took the brunt of my mothers wild anger, taught me that anger only means violence, losing control, dark hatred from both parties, abuse, and terror.
Never did anger mean what I see it is now: release; healing; fire lighting; spark finding; calming; empowering; invigorating; protecting; proactive making. My beautiful Anger Kettle is a precious resource and something to treasure. It is something to let boil and the piping hot water be poured into your chosen cup of cocoa: your chosen form of release.
My perfect mug of Cocoa right now has yet to be properly found, but dancing round my room to some kick ass loud music certainly helps.
What is your mug of cocoa after your Anger Kettle finds itself boiling on the stove?