Core Discovery: Sorrow’s Underneath All That Rage


Witty.  Sharp-tongued.  Snarky.

Later the B-word.  Somtimes the C-word.  Each label a partner to dance with– we do-si-doed, took turns leading– then we went our own ways to find other partners. 

I’m always in search of words that fit me better, tighter, like cashmere, only not as hot.

I’ve always imagined that I am comprised of layers that sit uneasily atop one another like those diagrams of the Earth’s layers in my sixth grade physical science textbook .  I never once doubted that like the Earth, my core was pure magma– raging, roiling and molten.  A rage that could clear hundreds of acres of forest and a dozen subdivisions in a single rush.  How else do you get to be as “snarky” as I am if you aren’t angry as hell way deep down where no one can see?

I’ve hung my hat, staked my claim, and bet all my chips on my anger.  Because it’s powerful– it’s a heart throbbing.  A protective shield that makes me feel alive, each mitochondria bursting with kinetic energy.  Kill or be killed.  I’m tightly coiled around a maypole of boiling rage.

That’s me. That’s who I am.

I thought it was immutable. 

Then one day, a sharp word pierced me like a spear.  I sat, cheeks burning and pulse revving like a Mustang.  Here we go.  Except I didn’t.  I sat waiting for my core self to expel the lava like an active volcano.   The deep breaths I took plunged me deeper into myself.  Something beyond that vast expanse of anger.  I didn’t put up a fight.  I let the wound throb and ooze.  I went deeper still.

Turns out there’s something beyond all that anger.  There’s a deep, quiet space below that.  It’s solid sorrow.  On its banks, I felt the rage swirling above my head aching to spring out and defend, fight, condemn, justify.  I let it roil and sat down.

It’s quiet in sadness.  There’s no frenetic energy longing to spout.  There is sorrow and ungrieved losses and goodbyes.  Warm tears dripped on my hands folded in my lap.  The innermost core of sadness is a place of no words.  I don’t feel sexy or inviolable or strong.  I feel soft and little and vulnerable.

I miss my barrage of words and hissing anger.  The power of anger feels farther away than the Middle Ages.  Like a balloon that lost all its air, I’m no longer swollen with rage.  I steeping in grief and stepping closer to you.

What’s the word for this?


21 thoughts on “Core Discovery: Sorrow’s Underneath All That Rage

  1. The anger is old. So is the grief. They’ve been with you, like all of us, since before you went to school. Bi=oth together add up to shame. But shame is a lie that keeps people frozen. Learning the source of the rage, and dealing with it and separately learning about the sadness and dealing with it allows one to grow up as a whole, vulnerable person. The kind of person who can have a full, rich rewarding life with real relationships.

    You go, girl!

  2. I’ve heard that behind anger is fear. And maybe sadness, too. It’s certainly sad to live in anger or fear. The way out is forgiveness, even & especially when you don’t want to.

  3. Perhaps the word is ‘vulnerable.’ Anger can be worn like a vest of self-protection to keep people at a distance…..but grief and sadness are more vulnerable in some way. It seems like it takes more courage and more risk to show our grief to others than to show our anger.

  4. I’ve always imagined that I am comprised of layers that sit uneasily atop one another like those diagrams of the Earth’s layers in my sixth grade physical science textbook .

    There are layers even beneath anger and rage:

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