by Dru Phoenix, MA, LMHC
The upcoming Wild Heart Gallery art show at Southwestern College is titled “Anger and the Feminine Self.” The idea was to invite the feminine into a visual and written dialogue on anger and to give permission for anger to be present since many of us have been raised to avoid expressing our anger. My own experience is that I have had permission to express all kinds of emotions; however, anger has seemed to be the last “hold-out emotion” for me and for many others. I am guessing that we all have our own stories of how and why anger has not been permitted to be expressed whether it was self-imposed, culturally-informed or both.
My friend Grace visited this week from Portland (she is also my co-worker as she works for SWC from a distance). We decided to spend the weekend making art on the topic of anger and submit our artwork to the show. What a roller coaster! We spent over eight hours during three days of making art. We gave permission for anger to show up and gave each other room to express it and to witness it in each other. What we experienced was a myriad of emotions – rage…horror…laughter…aha’s….grief…sorrow…love…curiosity…excitement…shock…anger…satisfaction…disappointment…depression…fear…fury! There were many stories and fragments of memories to share.
As we shared, I noticed how meaningful it was for me to be in communion with another person as I expressed my kaleidoscope of emotions relating to anger. I was surprised that within the collages that I created were messages of love, freedom, courage and empowerment. I thought it was just going to be about “being mad.” Instead, “grace” visited both of us in this journey and we came out the other end feeling closer as friends and also energized. I am so grateful to her and to myself for going to the “forest of anger” and exploring it together.