It’s good to remember there are two things happening when we let ourselves be real about our emotions and feelings - letting the energy out, and meeting whatever other need we have, if we have one. Sometimes we don’t, sometimes all we need is to hear ourselves answering our own question “and what about me?”
But sometimes we need more. Release is hugely important, but it isn’t always the end of the story. Even if we’ve learned how to express our emotions and let our anger out really well, we can still be trapped if we don’t take the next step - of meeting our needs, whatever they are.
Otherwise we can spend our lives flip-flopping between being discounted, disrespected or abused in relationships and getting enraged and outraged, having a good anger release in private to clear our heads and our bodies, then going back into the situation that drives us crazy! We still can’t be real when we’re with our partners.
It’s a kind of crisis management that women in love often resort to, but it doesn’t move us forward.
I’ve been letting out my anger for ages, so I got pretty good at it. It was really exciting. I was in a relationship with a man I’d known for ten years. He had a way of always hogging the conversation, whenever we went out. The problem was, he was really articulate and entertaining, and he’s smart, so people liked listening to him.
I got sick of how I got left out every time, but I couldn’t say anything. I’d sit there fuming, silent. My therapist told me I had to speak out, but I just couldn’t. I stopped going to therapy, I thought there was something so wrong with me I couldn’t fix it. I got really depressed. Then I found a therapist who taught me about my emotions and wow! Once I got good at it, I could really let fly.
Always just on my own, though. It was really gratifying. It was great for a while. But I still couldn’t speak to my boyfriend. He carried on hogging the show. I got stuck there for a bit, getting burned, fixing the burn, going back into the fire.
But it was just while I built up courage and belief in myself that I’d be okay if I confronted him in real time. As it happens, I needed that courage because he didn’t like it, and he left. It was hard in some ways, but in others actually it was a relief to be free of his all-consuming ego.
Expressing safely, and meeting needs, is the end of the dead end story where there’s no solution and we’re powerless. And it’s the beginning of the story where we find ourselves and let ourselves be important. It’s how we learn to be real in relationships, free from fear of being punished.