Mad Women.

Traditionally when we think of angry women we think, bitch. An image of a hormonal crazed woman pulling out her hair usually comes to mind. Or even perhaps one with a stern look on her face pointing her finger out accusingly. Either way she’s a she-devil you don’t want to mess with. These ideas that mad women are girls gone wild with rage can often be humorous and thus they are unable to be taken seriously. If on the off chance they have the ability to strike fear into the hearts of men then they will undoubtedly also send them running. Either way angry women are not deemed fit or desirable by society’s standards. This may be the reason why women choose to ignore their anger and bury it deep inside their psyches, producing unimaginable damage to their physical and emotional bodies.

I was the kind of child who threw temper tantrums. Unplanned and unimaginable fits of rage that would send my parents into hiding. I didn’t know how to keep my temper under control and they didn’t know how to teach me. As I grew I realized quickly realized that my anger was unacceptable behavior and my parents began to treat every argument as if it was the beginning of World War III. They stopped listening and began only to expect the worst which they dealt with by walking away. I believe that this was when I lost my voice. No one deserves to be screamed at of course, but it also makes me wonder about this feared and shamed emotion. It’s the not dealing with anger that i’m referring to, and more importantly women’s anger.

No one wants to be a bitch, right? In this society women are expected to be polite, soft spoken, and desirable to men. When we think about it, what’s less desirable to a man than angry woman? “Your father doesn’t like it when I yell, it reminds him of his mother. He especially doesn’t like it when you yell. Men don’t like dealing with upset women because it scares them, and men don’t like being scared.” It’s not verbatim, but it’s close enough to the explanation my mother would give me when I’d ask her why my dad would leave the house and take long drives whenever I got upset. I felt unable to express myself with out feeling guilty and instead began on a dark cycle of internalizing my anger.

Anger is not really an emotion. It is simply the top layer to a mass of deeper, darker emotions, such as grief and despair. These are feelings that must be dealt with but when we deny ourselves the right to express anger we are also pushing the pain that needs to escape down more deeply. For women, when we deny ourselves the right to be angry we are in turn denying ourselves from having a solid voice. For example, I’ve been pressured into sexual situations because when polite “no’s” didn’t suffice I didn’t want to become angry and look like a bitch. Due to my fear of being labeled as a bitch I gave up my right to consent. In reality, women’s fear of being recognized as a bitch is a direct result of the men’s fear of women’s anger which produces silencing effect over the voices of women.

I’m currently discovering how to deal with my own anger which stems from my previous trauma. At first, I simply wanted to let it go. I believed that anger couldn’t achieve anything but destruction and bad karma. That it was useless and silly, and that if I could only let go of it I would be free and at peace with my emotions. That’s not true, angercan be useful. It can protect us and allow for the deeper emotions to come to the surface so that they can be dealt with properly. Anger doesn’t have to be associated with destruction or violence, it can be released in many healthy ways. In our society male anger is often more acceptable and it’s easier for us to tolerate a man yelling or standing up passionately than a woman. When we don’t express ourselves we run the risk of losing our voices and internalizing our darker emotions. As women we don’t have to simply “suck it up” we can allow ourselves to recognize how we’re feeling and be direct with our emotions. We’re not bitches, we’re human beings, and as human beings we have the right to act as such.

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Real Men Have a Sweet Tooth.

When a woman is mistreated in a relationship it is not only her heart that ends up breaking. The pain remains in her body and also creates cracks in her logic. Emotional walls build allowing her self-esteem to suffocate, which may result in the emergence of self-destructive relationships and negative patterns. How do I know this, you may wonder? Because I’ve lived it and for many years I was this girl. For a long time I took comfort in unhealthy relationships with men because it was all that I had ever known. I was afraid of the men who wanted to offer me love and support because I didn’t think that I actually deserved it. After four years of internalizing my trauma and turning anger for others on myself, I began to break the cycle.

Within a year I have not only spoken out about being raped but I have encouraged others to speak out as well. I landed an internship with Suzanne Roberts, a somatic coach whose life’s purpose is to empower women and girls starting by alleviating the pain and trauma we hold in our bodies. I have to come to terms with my experiences and am currently on the verge of learning to forgive. I have let go of friends I once loved as well as let old ones return. These outstanding women have helped find the love that I desired within myself. All of these stepping stones have inspired me to reform my life and become the powerful woman that I deserve to be. In other words, I am on my way.

I met him in early September when summer was politely making it’s way out, allowing autumn to enter through the back door. It was short and sweet. A light-hearted romance that filled me with new feelings and even newer ideas. On our first date we laughed and talked for hours. We parted ways giggling in the same way we had when we met. When he spoke, he spoke to me. When we touched, he was touching the real me, the one I usually try to hide away. After we slept together I had realized that for the first time, I had actually stayed present. I didn’t leave, I didn’t retreat to the dark places in my mind. I stayed put, beneath him the entire time. Being treated as an equal startled me. He gave me back a sense of humanity that I was all too used to throwing away in sexual situations.

“It’s because he’s a man, he’s older and he’s not a little horny boy like you’re used to!” My cousin spoke with reassurance from the other girl’s in the room as she cooly smoked her cigarette. It made me think, is that it? Do men simply grow out of being cold and sexually distant? Do they hit a certain age and eagerly drop their immaturities at the door before calling, “Honey I’m home!” Perhaps, but perhaps not. In my case, I know that it was something more than that. Because I had developed a budding sense of self-care and a new found love for myself, I had allowed men with the same self-worth into my space. I was beginning to attract those on a higher level because I too was occupying that same place.

“He may be a man, but he has the sweet tooth of kid. You should’ve seen his eyes light up when he was talking about cookies the other day.” I laughed, rolling my eyes and feeling giddy about the day that had passed. “Well, I’m sure tons of dudes like cookies but you wouldn’t know because this is the first one who’s gotten to know you as aperson!” This was also true, it was the first time since I was seventeen that I wasn’t being treated as a sexual object. As wonderful as it was, he had explained upon meeting me that he was moving overseas for a year. Like all good things, it had to end. A bitter sweet goodbye to a bitter sweet affair.

Even if I never see him again, even if we never speak to each other from this point on, I have been changed. Feeling fully appreciated by a man that I was intimate with was a stepping stone towards empowerment that I needed. As women we need to break the vicious cycle of the careless men that bind us. We need to free ourselves from mistreatment so that we don’t perpetuate unhealthy patterns. If we never leave our comfort zone and face our demons before we are too set in our ways then we face the risk of being stuck in them for the rest of our lives. I deserve to feel good about myself, just as I deserve to find fulfilling love with men. I’m letting myself enjoy my sexuality and be present throughout sexual situations because I finally feel like I deserve to be.

Sometimes good people come in and out of our lives. They change us, they inspire us, they cause movement within us that results in permanent growth. It’s important that you take away from this piece that we must be secure with ourselves before secure people feel moved to enter. Happiness starts from within and once it is released it is an unstoppable, impermeable force. Some may say that meeting him just weeks before he left was bad timing. This isn’t true, but timing is everything. If we had met any earlier I wouldn’t have been ready. Now that I am, I will take this experience and carry it with me.