Dear Younger Me,
I’ve been thinking about you often, contemplating all of the things I want to share with you these next few months. I imagine propping you on my knee, holding you close, listening to your endless chatter, braiding your hair, and offering you soft stories of what could be.
In this second letter, I want you to know this:
Your anger is sacred. Nurture her and listen to her fiercely.
Anger is a complicated emotion for many people. Anger, you will learn, is seen as irrational, volatile, violent, unladylike, dangerous, and a sign that you’re out of control. Why, you may ask? Well, again, it’s complicated, but so much of it is because having a healthy relationship with your anger means you are connected with your internal sense of power and worth. To be powerful and self-aware is one of the most threatening things of all in this world.
In fact, you’ll be taught that being angry isn’t acceptable, that your anger makes others uncomfortable, and good girls never make others uncomfortable. You’ll learn to tap your anger down, to deny it and ignore it, to only let it out when it’s in service of others but never yourself.
You’ll be encouraged to distance yourself from your anger, which in turn means you’ll become afraid of it in yourself and in others. The world will reward you for this, and without knowing it, over time, you’ll slowly become part of a system that uses other people’s anger as an excuse to devalue and abuse them.
And it’s true… Anger can be irrational, volatile, violent, dangerous, and weaponized. When anger is ignored, it persists. When other feelings become intolerable, anger steps in, eager to protect us, and often expresses herself unfairly and recklessly.
Which is precisely, little one, why your anger is so very important.
Your anger is a warrior. She is wise and protective, constantly monitoring all of your edges with tireless diligence. She never doubts the depth of your worth.
She is ruthless about sounding the alarm when even the smallest thing seems off, when you doubt your power and purpose, when you hesitate to stand up for yourself, when harm is imminent.
You see, your anger IS love. Anger is only possible when you care. What most people don’t see is that it should be far scarier when anger (not to be confused with hatred) disappears completely, a sure sign that love is dead or dying.
Anger knows the places that long for a yes and the places that embody your no. She sees the inherent worthiness of your humanity, the sacredness of your body, the importance of your time and energy. She understands what fairness, justice, equity, and liberation mean, not only to you but to the collective, too.
What no one will tell you is that if you listen carefully whenever anger whispers in your ear, whenever she sends a little shiver down your spine, a little flush to your cheeks, a soft and loving, “Hey. Something isn’t quite right,” then you will never be far from your power and integrity.
In other words, when you trust your anger and allow her to flow freely as she was meant to do, she will take up almost no space (except in cases of emergency), showing up a soft breeze that gently nudges you back on course.
From this place, it will be so much more challenging for those who want to trick you, manipulate you, coerce you, take advantage of you, deny you, ignore you, use you, or push you to be or do something that doesn’t align with your desires and values.
It makes you dangerous to people who seek to have power over you.
Whenever you silence your anger, she’s forced to become more insistent, more desperate to protect you. Instead of being a source of quiet, loving attunement, she’ll become something uncomfortable, painful, and eventually, explosive.
Wouldn’t you if someone you loved with all of your heart and soul refused to listen when you shouted, “Stop! You’re hurting yourself!”?
For this reason, you will encounter people who use their anger to hurt others, who wield anger like a weapon, who use the fuel of anger in a way that harms themselves and everyone around them. Know that they are hurting and know it is not your job to fix them or entertain them. Offer them compassion, if you’d like to witness them, do so, and then move on.
Nurture your anger and trust her, but do not expect this relationship to be easy. When anger speaks, it is often inconvenient, uncomfortable, and awkward. Yet another reason so many people deny their truths.
To listen to your anger means saying no and witnessing disappointment in people you love. It means calmly reasserting your truth in the face of someone who seeks to twist it into something else. It means telling someone that something they said or did isn’t OK and asking for an apology. It means slapping away a stranger’s hand that touches a place it doesn’t belong. It means asking for more money, correcting an incorrect order, leaving in the middle of a date that’s not going well, letting a family member know they’re not listening, standing up for others when you witness injustice.
Living in right relationship with your warrior protector means being really, brilliantly visible. It means taking up space and not apologizing for the things you need to feel safe.
This will make people deeply uneasy. It might even trigger their own unhealthy anger to see someone tending to themselves in a way that is foreign to them.
But, to lovingly and tenderly nurture those edges of you and the ways you want to exist in the world is to create space for people who see your fierceness as a gift, who welcome it, who can witness your anger without taking it on as an attack. And you will be able to stand openly and honestly in the face of their anger without feeling like it might crush you.
So, get mad. Speak it out loud. Practice finding the words that express your desires. Feel all of the places in your body that tingle, twitch, sizzle, murmur, clench, warm, and shift when anger speaks to you. Practice, fuck up, and practice some more. Resist turning that anger on yourself as a way to keep yourself invisible and small (more on this in future letters), but do acknowledge when you make mistakes. Like you, anger doesn’t always get it right, either.
And more than anything, know that to be angry is to still be lovable and worthy. If no one else ever says it to you, Dawn, just know that I love you when you’re angry and I see your anger as valid.
In the end, all your anger wants is to be softly, gently, repeatedly acknowledged for the tireless work she does to tend your edges. Because your edges are important and no one will ever know them, understand them, or feel them the way that you do.
Your anger is an expression of your humanity and what matters to you. Your anger is sacred. Nurture her and listen to her fiercely.
Until next time, with so much love,
*For me, my anger feels like a she/her, probably as an expression of me. Your anger may have other pronouns or no pronouns, and that’s rad, too.