48 essays by Elizabeth Shé

Posts Tagged ‘Audre Lorde’

Essay #3: spring cleaning

In Love on March 21, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Dandelions are about to bloom. Time to dig ’em up and boil them for a nourishing tonic.

Out in the rain last week, I dug in the dirt, getting wet and feeling fine. Or was I melancholy? Moods pass through me like weather: Hello Anger! Oh, Regret, back so soon? Aloha, Sadness.

I don’t mean to sound flippant. Sometimes these visitors are quite painful. Anger scares the hell out of me.

Last night, I read The Railway Children, by E. Nesbit. One of the girls commented on how beautiful their mother is when she’s angry. That reminded me of how men used to say, “God! You’re beautiful when you’re mad!” and how demeaning it seemed. Ah, isn’t she cute when she’s upset.

But last night I looked at it differently. When energy flows through us unhindered, we are beautiful, whether it’s instigated by joy or love or anger.

I’m not talking about violence, though I used to think they were the same. Violence is what happens when Anger is ignored. Shove Anger away for long enough and she becomes Depression, dangerous and life-threatening.

For years I forced myself to put away my performing jones and join the ‘real’ world. And what happened? I was (unknowingly) furious at myself. And that rippled outward.
Self-loathing interferes with world peace.

Audre Lorde said, “Anger is loaded with information and energy.”

I’ve strangled anger for so long she’s found all kinds of ways to sneak out and wreak havoc: turning to Jealousy and Frustration for help, attacking my body with pains in the neck, inflaming the bottom of my foot. I was hobbled by hatred.

Anger doesn’t wait for permission. She surges up and forces me to notice that something is wrong now. Good girl Politeness finally takes a back seat, though she struggles for control. “Mustn’t be angry. You don’t want to scare anyone.”

Recently, I gave myself permission to be pissed.
Coincidentally (if there is such a thing), I auditioned for Elektra. You know, the Greek play about the woman who wants to kill her mother to avenge her father? She slipped right in, under my skin. Her hatred blew through me like a scirocco. What a relief to let her have her say.

When I talk myself out of anger, she digs in her heels and fights harder. When I allow her to speak, she stomps around a bit, then leaves of her own accord.

I have spent most of my life listening to others: parents, teachers, friends, lovers, bosses, critics.

I am learning to listen to Love, which means also listening to Anger. Listening to me.

It’s spring, sweetheart.
The old life is over.
Begin again.