Perhaps it was my WASP-y father or my mother’s southern roots, but being positive and nice was pretty much my default setting for most of my life. Of course I felt “negative” things sometimes but usually I would choose to suck it up or shift my focus to something more productive and useful. To feel otherwise would be a waste, I thought. I actually wrote on my Myspace profile that I was the “kind of girl that got along better with guys”, preferring reason and logic over the more wet and wild. I thought my sense of psychological “control” made me superior to those with wobblier countenance. Oy! If only I had known that every time I chose to bypass an emotion, it was patiently stored and taking up RAM in my body and mind until I ran out of storage space and energy to function. You could say I was forced to run diagnostics on my emotional systems and deep down I discovered a righteous inner bitch who just happens to be a billion-watt source of energy.
At age 30, as life would have it, I went back to school to learn how to feel. Fueled by a paralyzing loneliness and hunger for connection, I shored up my disgust at everything New Age and became a student of Spiritual Psychology at the University of Santa Monica. One weekend a month for two years I slowly started to heal some of the armor I had collected throughout my life and discovered all the energy hiding underneath. I started to feel all the upset, frustration, betrayal and hurt I had avoided for many years. But anger? Nah, I don’t have any anger. Ha!
It was in a small house in the valley in Los Angeles with the help of an ancient, psychedelic plant called Ayahuasca that my inner ice queen was epically revealed. Holy shit, she was scary! Picture a Nordic warrior queen, ala Bryn of Tarr and the Emily Blunt character from The Huntsman. She is the part of me that Jung would call the shadow. Essentially, she is a (now conscious) aspect of my ego that ruthlessly judges everything human–especially human men. (She much prefers Thor.) She, like every broken hearted Disney-princess-turned-Ice-Queen, was created out of pain and used armor as a means to protect me from further hurt. She felt regal, confident, powerful, mean and profoundly righteous. She was, in her opinion, the creation of thousands of years of sexual, mental and emotional repression at the hands of men. She was the reservoir of disappointment for all the expectations that were never met. No man was a match so she became her own protector, fighter and righteous advocate. Well, I didn’t know what to do with her and she kind of freaked me out. Instead of feeling my usual sense of superiority, I felt unmasked as mean and mortal. Ugh. With my new “feeling” skills I knew the only way out was through and so I let her have some space to express. I shared her with friends I loved and some of them were like, “Hell yeah, let’s dress her up and take her out and see what happens!” I was terrified that letting my inner Ice Queen out to freely express would mean hurting people.
I wrote pages and pages of uncensored rage and disappointment at the unfairness of the world and screamed and punched pillows and gave her a voice in Gestalt Therapy. Using the Grinberg Method I breathed into the places in my body it felt like her rage lived and wrote a few fiery emails to men. Slowly her rage turned into sadness and fear and eventually helplessness that she could never be strong enough to make the world fair for everyone, especially for herself. I fell in love with her honesty. As the ice started to melt I felt immense compassion for myself, for men and for the world.
It was only through the uncensored expression of my righteous anger and by learning how to love this part of me that I could move on to something greater. I have recently heard of anger shops, where you can go break stuff and lose your shit. Try it! Instead of getting hopped up on stimulants to energize yourself or taking your rage out on other people through icy projection, find a way to express rage consciously and safely and see what happens.
Bristol Baughan is an Emmy-winning and Oscar-Nominated filmmaker, author, and private coach. She is a TED Fellow and Founder of Inner Astronauts, a custom experience and private coaching company supporting people in coming more fully alive in service to the world. Bristol holds a B.A. in International Studies from the American University School of International Service and an M.A. in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica.
Artwork by Michelle Favin of Whys LA for Poppy & Seed. Connect with her @whyslosangeles.