Is Rage a Dirty Emotion?

I’m not one to get bent out of shape about events and I like to think I’m laid back, level-headed and easy going. But when I get riled up about something, you better watch out!

Recently, a mundane life circumstance really got to me and I hulked-out into the dreaded Rage Monster: “Sara Smash!!!”

The injustice of the situation and the all-around underhandedness burrowed under my skin and started setting fires like a teenage pyromaniac. I wrote and wrote and wrote in my stream-of-consciousness way hoping somehow to douse the flames with a refreshing blast of rational, summer’s air. But alas, my fingers, flying across the keyboard in their rage of output generated enough heat to kick up a new smokescreen.

I have always felt a deep sense of shame for losing control and betraying flashes of ill-temper, but maybe anger isn’t such a dirty emotion after all.

I have experienced first-hand how writing from a place of anger can significantly spike productivity and spur the honest voice. The verve and the energy starkly exposed in impassioned prose is staggering. Rage is dangerous, it sets words on fire, it causes a stir and gets a reaction. But what kind? Does this enraged flustering of words give light or merely heat? Can anything illuminating and constructive come from the bald expression of rage and anger?

I am starting to think anger, like sadness, is an emotion too much maligned in our hyper-sanitized, civilized culture.

Everything is not alright. People, real people, experience hurt and injustice. Real people do not glide along on an eternal cloud of blissful sunshine. Real people get pissed off, sometimes for noble reasons and sometimes for the sake of vanity or pride. We need to experience anger when things are wrong. All the fear and fight building up from the stresses of life have to go somewhere. We are not hot-air balloons built to store up hurt and heat and rise gracefully above the rooftops of circumstance. We have to draw the poison out of the wound and expose it to the light in order to fully heal.

If I’m wrong about the healing potential of anger, if screaming-mad writing is merely stimulating, should I indulge for the sake of catharsis, or should I refrain for the sake of appearances? I can’t justify hiding away uncomfortable emotions any longer. How can I connect with the rest of the human race and somehow write meaning into the chaos of human experience, if I deny the passionate nature that makes me human?

I try to keep a positive outlook in this space, to provide encouragement and to foster acceptance and peace, but authenticity should not have to pay the price for niceness. Today I am embracing anger. I will write while passionate and edit while sober.

What do you think? Is rage fertile ground for creativity, for writing and for finding your voice? Can anything good and light come from the raging fires of anger or only more pain and ash?

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