The other day when I was picking my daughter up from school, I noticed she had the sweetest little smile while she was walking to the car. So I asked her about it. “What are you thinking about? You have the sweetest smile,” I said.
“Oh,” she said. “I wasn’t thinking about anything really. I just smile so people don’t say anything to me and tell me to cheer up or whatever.” My daughter? She’s twelve.
I felt something in me stir. I call it The Anger Nugget.
It’s not a poetic term “The Anger Nugget”. In fact, it’s a bit comical, isn’t it? But it is an apt description for the tightness in my belly, the size of a walnut, that I try to keep the size of a walnut. Every now and then is jostles. Stirs. As if it’s about to grow. And then hatch. “Shush, now,” I whisper. “It’s all right. It’s nothing. Shhh. Quiet down.”
But that nugget was trembling.
My daughter wore a fake smile so that others wouldn’t bother her. Where did she learn this? At school? From her friends?
Or did she learn it from me?
It makes me nauseous to think that I have taught her this. How long have I been doing it? How long have I worn a pleasant face when on the inside I was seething?
I don’t think I’m alone in this.
Women have been/are, conditioned to be caretakers. We’re taught to anticipate the needs and moods of others. To take care of. To be quiet. To be meek. To put others’ needs before our own. We can show sadness. We can be sexy. But god forbid we show anger. Anger is something for men. Anger is a show of power.
I feel that rustling again. In my belly. Only this time, instead of saying “Shush, quiet down”, I’ve started to say, “Why are you trembling? What is fueling your growth?”
This anger nugget inside me…it’s growing. Maybe it will hatch into something. A bird maybe. Or a dragon.
I hope when it does hatch, it finally has the voice to speak strongly and be heard. To say that “You know what, I’m not happy today. And I’m not okay.” Or to say, “Take care of yourself. Figure it out. I’ve got things I want to accomplish.”
The secret thing about anger that I never really understood is that anger is empowering. In its pure form—not the form anger can take when it twists into violence—anger energizes. It connects you with your most basic needs.
Anger is a star wanting to be born, packed densely with all the things you’ve ever wanted or needed, of all the times you were ignored, of the moments when you spoke clearly but still no one heard you, of the times you put others before yourself because that is what you’re supposed to do because your needs aren’t important.
Anger can be a life force.
Anger is your spirit waiting to unfurl.
I told my daughter to not smile anymore. Not unless she wants to. She shrugged because that isn’t how the world works.
But it IS how the world works, my darling.
Watch me. I’ll show you.
Starting right now.
This blog was written by Audie-award winning (and nominated) narrator, Tanya Eby. Tanya is the performer of nearly 700 audiobooks, a USA Today Bestselling author, and you can check her out on Episode 2 “Winter Blunderland” on Netflix’s NAILED IT! HOLIDAY! She is working on healthy avenues for her anger like writing, working out on the treadmill, being authentic, and at times, having great food and drinks with friends.