John: Anger and Compassion

John, what would you like to talk about with regard to the lessons in anger and compassion these past two weeks?

Well love, why don’t you tell your story, and I’ll chime in.

Okay. Part of the shifting in the energy block as treated by Tracey’s pendant (which I still haven’t seen, by the way, I’m meeting the woman in person next week) has been the uprising of anger. Anger’s a pretty scary emotion that I’ve spent most of my life avoiding… which is part of the issue with this block and throat chakra / losing voice thing that I get – it relates to self-expression and the rising kundalini serpent within, the obstacle in the connection to Heaven.

There have been several different ways anger has risen in my life in the last couple of weeks: the first was one friendship exploded. I’m not the sort of person to inspire rage in people in general, I’m non-confrontational and thoughtful. This is why it came as such a shock when a close friend (I’ll call her Jane) sent me an email saying she was absolutely enraged with me, felt betrayed and believed our friendship was over. Then I didn’t hear from her for two weeks, and I came to terms with how our friendship ended.

What did I do? Well I asked a mutual friend if Jane might consider visiting a counselor, as several other people who know this person had expressed their concern about her to me, in the hopes that I’d pass on information about good counselors and mental health services in her area, since I was much closer to her than they were.

I have been worried about Jane for months now, but the thing is friends often have a different perspective on things than the person actually experiencing the situation. Friends will spot loser-boyfriend behavior months before the breakup, friends will offer suggestions about job changes if they see you unhappy or constantly stressed. Heck, one of my friends suggested I might want to date girls *five years* before I figured out I was gay myself.

So if a friend can’t or doesn’t want to see how bad their situation is, there’s not a lot you can really do about it, and you’re faced with a decision on how to proceed with the friendship. Sometimes, this is where families will choose the intervention / tough love approach, and anyone who’s read the blog for the last six months knows why that’s not such a great idea (look to Kurt and Sid’s comments about tough love.)

Thing is, I didn’t want to even approach Jane about it if she wasn’t open to the idea of counseling at all, and I didn’t have a great sense of how she was doing since she lives quite a distance away from me now. So I asked her roommate and friend who’s known her for many more years than I.

I don’t know if things would’ve turned out differently if I’d just gone to Jane directly. As it turned out, when her roommate mentioned what I’d asked her about, Jane had a massive reaction. A nuclear meltdown of rage.

Here it is, two weeks later, and yesterday I received an email from Jane apologizing for her reaction, and saying she was very puzzled about where all the anger had come from. It had taken her two weeks to admit to herself that she hadn’t actually been hurt, and no one had intended to hurt her. Personally, I believe all of this rage is stemming from her current situation, but she’s not facing it. She’s in complete denial that she’s angry and unhappy, it’s all this anger stuffed into a tight pickle jar of rage, and if someone like me opens the lid a tiny bit, out come the flying Pickles of Fury to smack me in the face.

(I’d like to thank my mother for that metaphor.)

I sent my sister an email about my distressing situation with Jane, and she sent me a very wise reply. My sister’s advice:

For Jane to have any improvement in her situation she has to first realize herself that things aren’t working, then recognize she may not know how to fix it, and then become open for outside help to improve things.

There’s a beautiful Aboriginal teaching about the value of patiently waiting with someone until they are ready to move forward. It’s also a type of counseling strategy that has gained popularity, although I forget all of the theory. It was similar to active listening.

The point was that don’t feel that you are being neglectful or negligent as a friend by being with them during a journey, even if you think it’s not productive. There are some things people have to learn for themselves, and that may mean you have to distance yourself if it becomes too abrasive for you. Just don’t get stuck in the trap that it is your job to fix it.

My sister is one smart woman. So is my Sweetie, by the way, who reiterated this advice to me in a different form, last night. This advice extends to so much more than my friendship with Jane. It extends to the human clients who call me for psychic mediumship, particularly the people who are in pain, asking for help and who turn divine help away. I want to be able to help people, yet I’ve found this type of work to be very draining (which is why I was directed back to a focus on animals for the time being.)

Anger is one of the scariest, most draining emotions I’ve ever encountered.

John chimes in:

I’m the same way, I fought a lot with (blond woman, Julian’s mom?) yelling, it was awful, we were quite unhappy towards the end. At one point (in the 60s) I decided not to do that anymore, and I completely turned anger away from my heart.

What I didn’t anticipate was that it would turn into something else; insecurity, neediness, helplessness. Anger felt empowering, I was expressing, asserting my needs, like a child having a tantrum. Without anger I became emotionally manipulative instead of angry. I became depressed too. I believed I could just meet the bad things in life with love, and that would transform it. What we (flower children) didn’t understand is that the anger has to go somewhere, you can’t make it magically disappear as we’d thought. Anger is a part of being human.

Did Jesus get angry?

(Laughs) I don’t know, why don’t you ask him sometime?

You never asked Jesus about the whole persecution, crucifixion thing? Didn’t I hear some bible story about Jesus getting pissed at people gambling in a church?

(Laughing again) I doubt it happened quite that way, (shows me many, many men re-writing stories in the bible.) Yes, Jesus was human, although we’ve elevated his status in our (collective) memory to the Son of God. We’re all children of god, siblings to Jesus, to each other.

(Me, teasing) Yeah yeah, we are all one, I get it. You’re still such a hippy!

Look who’s talking!

He’s right, I’m getting less redneck and more flower-child by the day. And yet, I see you’ve evaded my question, my friend! May I repeat it? Did you ever ask Jesus about his emotional experience on earth?

It was excruciating at times. Just like the rest of us.

What about when he was crucified? Was he angry?

He experienced great compassion.

YOU ARE SHITTING ME. Are you serious? Really??? I know, you’ve been telling me for weeks that compassion is the antidote to anger, but I’m having difficulty incorporating that. How can Jesus just be sitting on that cross, in terrible physical suffering, torn away from his family and his work – he wasn’t angry at all?

Jesus, he foresaw it actually. And so, he felt resigned when he understood it was about to happen. Once he was (walking with the cross) he began to leave his body, he drifted in and out, he connected completely with Heaven and so he found compassion for his persecutors.

Wow. Compassion is channeled from Heaven. It makes sense. Isn’t compassion just another way of saying love? If so, why didn’t turning anger into love work for the hippie kids of the 60s? Why didn’t it work for you?

Well, because you can be compassionate and still address your own needs. The expression of anger is the expression of what you need to feel comfortable, your boundaries or your need for more freedom. Your needs can also be expressed and met when you speak through compassion – it’s more effective than speaking through rage. Often when we talk of speaking through love, we associate it with martyrdom, with motherhood, with unconditional giving, not creating balance for ourselves.

I’m pretty sure Jesus’ needs weren’t being met when he was crucified.

Yes, well, we can’t all be Jesus.

That is such a great line, John. Thanks for talking to us. I’m still confused about all this, but we’ll keep working on it until I get it.

(I think I heard him say “Walk in Love” but my logical mind questions it in context, it doesn’t seem like something John would say. Oh wait, it’s something Jesus would say. Thanks, my friend.)

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