Bloody Sunday, Selma USA, slave market, Charleston South Carolina, Michael Brown, Ferguson Missouri: these travesties denigrating human life in America keep us all in a perpetual state of anger. So no wonder we are stressed out and “hyped-up” all the time. Whether it is a sense of history on a bridge in Alabama or the tragic loss of a young black man’s life in 2014, the oneness of all mankind causes us to feel the pain of “man’s inhumanity” even when we don’t want to.
My personal anger issues associated with growing up in the segregated South and living through my struggles with bullies, invisible blackness and a privileged upbringing distorted my view of myself for decades. Ultimately, the cumulative impact of raging angst stole my soul at 40 years old when fibromyalgia and panic attacks took over my nervous system and shut me down. My life as I knew it was soon over- no job, no marriage, no respect, no dignity, no relief from searing pain- and no one believed I was sick. That’s just Paula! You know she is crazy!
In many ways my new book, Yesterday When I Was Crazy: A Sacred Contract With Healing, is a story about overcoming the anger that for some of us lives in our DNA. The Born Angry Chapter captures this part of my story best. And while the idea of “already angry” may at first not ring the proverbial epiphany bell. When you stop to reflect on all the traumatizing events that have gone before us for generations, the light of this truth may come shining through.
Consider the descendants of African slaves who endured the most heinous forms of human debasement for decades. Their offspring could surely be “born angry” from cellular memory. The controversial idea that cells of the body retain memories of our histories raises great skepticism for most people. Growing up as a Negro in the segregated South, I believe my “born angry” story could surely begin and end there in my cellular ancestry. But that would be too easy.
The paragraph above from the Born Angry Chapter highlights the context for this conversation about anger. My poem, Already Angry, sets the tone for this dialogue a bit further. I wrote this poem as I was hanging up from a very stressful conversation with a friend. I realized that my anger meter was on nine about to hit 10. In a moment of self-preservation, I was gripped by the thought: I am already angry. So I can’t get mad. The poem continues:
I am already angry.
For things in my past
That crushed my soul
And gave my heart a blast
Now I wear an indelible mask.
My book was written to say that it is time to heal our layers of anger regardless of their source. Our greatest human experiment just might be to give our souls a little rest from such hard work. Imagine a world with fewer dis-eases and distortions. Imagine forgiveness as everyone’s first response in an offending situation. Imagine IT (anger) GONE from our hearts and minds and our daily lives. Let’s NOT pass it on to the next generations. Let’s talk about healing anger and redirecting its injurious effects and decoding our DNA. If we don’t, we will not find peace.
Celebrate the 50th anniversary of voting rights for African-Americans by visualizing yourself on the Edmund Pettus Bridge to Freedom Sunday in Selma. Ask yourself, Am I already angry? Then: find your sacred contract with healing. We ALL have one!
Discover more in my new book, Yesterday When I Was Crazy: A Sacred Contract With Healing, available NOW on Amazon.com. Read the complete poem, Already Angry, on my website, paulapotts.com.