The other day, Loki snagged something he shouldn’t have. “Ah ah ahh!”, I yelled, “Leave it!” Yeah, like that was going to work. He ran; I chased.
I did not need this in that moment. It had been a long day. I just wanted to relax, at least for a little bit. I didn’t want to have to guard everything in the house that wasn’t bolted down. I became angry.
When I caught up to him, I made him drop it, and I wasn’t quiet about it. “No!”, I yelled.
He eyed me and “Bark!”, which only made me more angry.
“NO! Not yours!”
He barked again, “Bark-rar-rark!!!”…with his paws spread out, head down, and his tail up.
I suddenly noticed: he was in puppy play pose. Two nights before, he ran through the house and hopped to my side on the couch. In his mouth, he held what was left of his Dentley (a rawhide chew bone). Smiling, he dropped it by my side, barked happily, and bounded off. His Dentley is his favorite thing in the whole wide world, and he gave it joyfully to me. That puppy barking at me now was the same puppy that barked and gave me a gift the other day. He wasn’t being a pain in the ass just to be a pain in the ass. He was trying to tell me something: he missed me while I was at work all day, and all he wanted to do was play with his favorite person. If only he could get my attention.
And in return for his efforts, I yelled at him.
I felt terrible. So very ashamed.
I don’t like getting angry. Yet, it seems to happen more often. As the years pass by, I’ve even noticed my fuse becoming shorter and shorter. General pressures of life–day in and day out–will do that, I guess.
I consider myself to be a spiritual person. I enjoy those moments of joyful, deep resonating experiences with the Divine. In those moments I feel at peace. On the inside, it is as still waters nourish my soul.
Anger destroys all that. The peace is gone. I disconnect from whoever is around me. In fact, I even disconnect from myself. I love Loki. He’s my baby. I don’t ever want to make him feel bad or threatened by my presence. And, yet, I yelled when he was just trying to play with me. How could I allow myself to enter a state that allows for that?
Somehow, years ago, I was introduced to the idea that there were two parts of me: “flesh” and “spirit.” I am a child of God. I am meant to embody love and compassion, a spirit of divine light. Anger is of the flesh, of a dark spirit, of that part of me that does not partake of the light. Things of the flesh separate us from things of the spirit. Fleshly emotions like anger push us away from God.
I no longer believe that.
I’ve come to see anger very differently. Anger is not a source emotion. It one of the ways my shadow side expresses itself to me. Just because that which dwells in my shadow is mostly hidden doesn’t make it antagonistic to God or evil. In a sense, though, it is alienated from my conscious self. And as such, it needs to be reconciled to the part of me that dwells in the light in order for me to become more whole. If I can learn to listen to my anger, thus embracing it, maybe then I can understand where it is coming from.
When I am angry, I am not angry because I’m angry. I am angry because I feel hurt, worn down, afraid, betrayed, insecure, or ashamed, among other states. If I ignore or deny this, then becoming angry can drive me to do things that only exacerbate the deeper issues, making matters ultimately worse. But if I listen to my anger–if I embrace it as the voice of my shadow side revealing itself to me–then I can come to understand more fully that part of me that hides…even from me. And by doing so, I invite and allow that which has been exiled to the darkness to dwell securely in the light of my life.
And the result? Maybe I stop yelling at my dog, whom I love, and who loves me.
In fact, while I have been writing this, he has been driving me crazy. He has been getting into everything he isn’t supposed to. It is very difficult to think and write when you have to get up every 3-5 minutes to tend to a dog. I was starting to get quite annoyed. Then I heard it: the rising anger.
Loki stood by the futon, smiling at me, with his gigantic tongue hanging out, tail slightly wagging. I know this blog is important to me, so it frustrates me when things stand between me and writing. In noticing that, though, I was able to ask myself: Is writing an article so important that I need to dismiss my boy?
Then I saw the tug-o-rope dropped at my feet.
Loki and I have taken a few play breaks since then. I’ve still had to make him leave things alone or drop them. But I was able to do so (relatively) calmly, more aware of what I was doing, with a greater sense of what was more important to me. Thus, I have been able to reconcile a part of my shadow side to my light…at least for tonight. And it was my anger–as the voice of my shadow–that opened to door to that happening.
When we are at our best, our anger isn’t a “fleshly” thing that is opposed to spirituality. Rather, it’s a vital part of it.