Days 5-Now: On Anger and Shame

Since calling my Lent journey a “radical confrontation”, issues that are uncomfortable and upsetting about myself are emerging in an acute manner. Or maybe it’s because I’m not drinking that I can now see clearly!

For one, I’m noticing what an incredibly judgemental person I am. I touched on this in an earlier post, about how my mind regurgitates all these past faults leveled against me, and goes on an attack of these old instigators. Well now the thing that’s happening is that I attack even in the present moment.

For instance, on my birthday I decided to treat myself to a free ride up Table Mountain in the cable car. The day was perfect in every way, sun, not too hot though and no wind, so the entire European, American, and Asian nations were on the mountain with me, pushing and grabbing and being very loud, irritating the serenity out of my birthday attempt at peaceful contemplation. I couldn’t believe how I ‘tucked my dress into the legs elastic of my panties’ (township straatmeisie-style), ready for a fight.

I’m not a violent type of person, well, not that I know of, but there I was, inducing heart failure in myself as I glared accusingly and disapprovingly in my mind at people trying to enjoy this 7th Wonder of the World. What the fuck Makgathi? What happened to “World Peace Begins With My Inner Peace”? In yoga class this very morning Leora my teacher had wished me happy birthday, inviting me to “share this Light with everyone”. I had nodded my head with tears in my eyes, genuinely believing myself when I promised her and myself that “yes, I will”. Hm.

It did bother me to see this mine of random anger within myself, and how helpless I felt against it. Why is my mind doing this?  I became vigilant, castigating myself for my judgemental thoughts, but my mind flagrantly tossed me aside in gleeful rebellion against my intention to give love instead. Remember how a mere few weeks ago I was falling in love with everyone? How did that happen so easily, well, and how is this anger also coming out so easily?

I felt so angry and ashamed of myself.

In my radical confrontation space, what should I pay attention to, the anger or shame? The two companions are showing up,  both cycling within me indefatigably, each taking a turn like little girls on a swing. Except they lack the easy giggle of little girls, as they grate against me, inside me.

But grace is also a constant companion.

This morning during my Centering Prayer meditation, a silent contemplative prayer popularised by Father Thomas Keating, I drop deep into silence, and find myself in tears. As I Surrender to this, I receive a strong impression of my young self, of me as a child. I gather this little me in my arms, repeating my Sacred Phrase for the practice, “All is well”, and some comprehension drops in.

This is the little girl that has been holding all manner of unexpressed emotion for me. She’s the one that swallows all my sadness, disappointment, anger, needs and wants, and has learnt to self-soothe by sucking her thumb. I now know that she’s the one that has tried to save my life by carefully padding me with fat on my body, over feeding just to silence the unquenchable longing within. She’s the one who has been feeling unworthy of receiving. She’s also the one who goes into panic each time I lose weight, for fear of being exposed, and for the shame she harbours.

I know that shame can be addictive, and can trap us into a spiral of feeling shame for the pain we may have suffered as children, and paradoxically, feeling ashamed of the shame, as adults. I have seen this in myself, and understand how this shame is the very emotion that keeps me feeling bad about myself, for any and no reason at all, and keeps me in the very condition I am ashamed of!

It is the shame that has me waking up in the early hours of the morning doing a food count of what I’ve eaten the day before, making me angry at myself for my lack of resolve; it is the shame that constantly compares me to my peers, making me angry at myself for not making the achievements I should have by now; the very shame that tells me I am just like the sleeping disciples, failing to stay awake, and later betraying their teacher, making me angry at myself for not being strong enough in my spirituality.

Yoyo Anger and Shame. I am the Drunkard of Le Petit Prince, (Antoine St-Exupéry)  who drinks to forget that he is ashamed that he drinks. My shame is an addiction which I keep alive by feeding it the anger I feel at myself for not being perfect, making me ashamed that I am not more loving toward myself, which shows that I’m not perfect, which shows…

May I know that I am worthy of every emotion I feel, regardless how shameful, and thus relieve my inner child of this bitter burden she’s been carrying my entire life. Onward and inward into my Lenten journey. I will no longer allow shame to shame me.

I accept. It is perfect. Thank You.

ka Lerato🙏🏾

Oh, and all tourists visiting this beautiful Cape Town, a heart felt welcome to you!


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