The Fire Beneath Your Breast

I’ve been told many times that anger is wrong. It’s inappropriate, a form of suffering, something that goes completely to waste because it hurts you more than it does your cause. But the strange thing about anger is that I sort of enjoy it.

Anger is fire. It’s a surge of heat buried beneath your chest, and it burns brights and hot and strong. Sometimes it can get out of control, sure. Sometimes it spills over in the form of words, and when that happens, there’s no end to the devastation it can cause. Anger is capable of destroying lives and tearing people down. It can twist into something cruel and ugly and violent, and just like fire, it can kill when it isn’t contained. I understand that.

But just like fire, there’s no end to the good it can cause either. Anger can be harnessed, it can be controlled, it can be formed into a burning engine within your breast, propelling you ever forward. It can make you stronger if you force it to. It can make you look at the things that make you angry, those people and their cruel words, and it can make you spit in their face and command them to watch you as you push yourself farther, make yourself better.

Anger is life. It’s motivation, too lively to be sadness, too dissatisfied to be joy. It keeps you moving, keeps you from giving into the cruelty and unfairness that you’re all-too aware is all around you.

Anger is what gets the activist out of bed and keeps them fighting for their cause, even if deep down, they doubt that they’ll ever see change in their lifetime. Anger keeps them from becoming compliant with injustice, from accepting that that’s just the way things are, because no – that shouldn’t be just the way things are. Things should be better, and I’m going to make them better. Anger mingled with love is a powerful motivator.

Anger is what can keep a dreamer chasing their dreams, when they think back to all those people who sneered at them and told them that it couldn’t be done. Sadness tries to creep in in those moments, tries to convince them that maybe those people are right, maybe they are being a little unrealistic, and then anger steps in and says no. Those people are wrong, and you are going to make them see that they are wrong. Anger mingled with passion, too, is a beautiful thing.

And when I was coming out of my depression, anger was the first emotion that proved to me that I truly was improving. I don’t remember what it came to me for, some sort of injustice in the world, I imagine, but I remember clinging to it tight, holding to it like a lifeline, and realizing that this was the first thing that I was truly passionate about in over two years. I remember that in that moment, anger came to me mingled with both pride and joy, because I was doing better. I was pulling myself through. The fire, though slowly, was returning to me.

And so I understand what people mean when they say that anger is a negative trait. In its purest form, it probably is. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t still be harnessed for the better and made to be something beautiful and something strong.

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