Earlier today, he said: how are you feeling?
Earlier today, I said: pissed off.

It was uncomfortable to be honest and I say I was angry with him.

He said: Be as angry with me as you like. Going to make no difference.

He was wrong.

Being angry with him has made a HUGE difference. Being angry with him has changed my life in an afternoon.

It’s given me an experience of what healthy aggression feels like, and what an incredible resource and tool for connection it can be.

I was always scared of anger. I was scared of all big emotions — as a teenager I made a decision not to feel, and I opted out of emotion. My nervous system was super happy to help me out, perceiving big feelings as threats. Since I couldn’t fight the feelings, and I couldn’t run away from them, I was left with freezing up around them.

In case you’re not super familiar with them, here’s a quick crash course in the nervous system’s responses to perceived threat: fight, flight and freeze. They’re pretty much what they sound like. Fight is just that, flight is the need to get away, freeze is an immobilisation response.

I experienced a kind of functional freeze. I wasn’t totally immobilised, I could still eat and talk and go to school and then years later, go to work, but I felt numb all of the time. I was diagnosed with a low mood disorder called dysthymia, which is like a chronic mild depression.

I felt grey all the time, which I thought was normal because by that stage I’d forgotten that I’d decided not to feel, and feeling nothing was all I knew. I used to look at people who were radiant, lit up, energised and excited by life and feel sort of sad, because I figured they were born that way and I just wasn’t one of the lucky ones.

And so to today. Be as angry with me as you like. Going to make no difference.

It’s making a HUGE difference. The fact that I’m feeling angry at all is incredible — for most of my adult life I’ve been someone who ‘doesn’t do angry’. I rationalised my lack of ability to stand up for myself away by being so very understanding of the people who crossed my boundaries, as if understanding why they did what they did cancelled out my right to be pissed off.

To go from feeling nothing to feeling this rage and having it feel MANAGEABLE, to be able to feel it and not dissociate, not shut down, switch off, or freeze feels hugely empowering.

Be as angry with me as you like. Going to make no difference.

This anger that I’m feeling — it’s my own personal power. It’s connected me to feelings of worth and a belief that I deserve to feel protected and safe. It’s the desire and the ability to protect myself and give myself that safety.

This anger I feel is permission. Permission to matter. Permission to be heard. Permission to TAKE UP SPACE, and permission to look after that space and know I get to say who enters it.

Be as angry with me as you like. Going to make no difference.

This anger that I’m feeling brought me experiences of connection with two incredible women — women who heard how I was feeling and saw me in my anger. These women told me YES. You are right to feel this way. Your anger makes sense. You are not crazy for feeling how you feel.

Their validation made me realise I could trust my body’s responses. That my body is WISE, and knows when a boundary is crossed. This anger I feel has given me back trust in myself that I’d lost. Been seen and accepted in this anger showed me it’s safe to feel what I’m feeling — I will still be loved. I will still be accepted.

Be as angry with me as you like. Going to make no difference.

This anger I feel is for expressing boundaries, for saying NO.

I used to say yes all the time, to everyone, in every situation — fuck that. I lost myself so comprehensively in meeting others needs and living up to others expectations, real or imagined, that I had no idea who I was or what was true for me.

Try being friends with a people pleasing doormat. It’s convenient, but it’s not interesting.

Try being friends with someone who’s alive, clear, understands and expresses her needs and boundaries. It’s more challenging, sometimes, but you’re seeing the real human in front of you.

This anger that I feel is helping me show you this real human in front of you, with less fear, less need to hide, less need to protect myself through trying to be invisible, through withdrawing and shutting people out, shutting myself down. I can look you in the eye.

Be as angry with me as you like. Going to make no difference.

This anger that I’m feeling had me dancing around my house in delighted celebration of the pure life energy I feel all through my body.

For someone who’s been numb and frozen for so long, it’s a visceral coming alive. My vision is sharper, colours are brighter. My body wants to MOVE. My feet on the floor feel rock solid. My legs feel powerful and strong.

Be as angry with me as you like. Going to make no difference.

This anger I feel is a lived experience of healthy aggression. It’s pure life energy. It’s the most alive I’ve felt in a long time.

It’s changed my life in a single afternoon.