By: LUMO Leaders
Hello mothers and others,
From the time I was first able to speak, I was rather adept at expressing myself. But as a sensitive and highly emotive child – an “Emotional Creature” as Eve Ensler so aptly wrote – my feelings were often dismissed. Or not taken as seriously as I would’ve preferred. Often labeled as an “over-reactor,” frustration mounted for me. I believed I was doing what I needed to do to get the help/support/thing I passionately felt I needed.
Asking for what I needed was never the problem. Getting it… well. That was a different story.
Enter, The Dragon.
A silent partner, brought in for emergencies, or for when I was declared a “Drama Queen.”
You think I’m a Drama Queen? Wait until you meet my dragon!
More Smaug than Puff, my dragon was a “break in case of emergency” kind of pal. A scaly bodyguard. Secreted away somewhere beneath my solar plexus, my dragon would innately sense my anxiety rising and rise herself, bringing forth the protection I needed.
My dragon was an exquisitely sensitive gauge for my fear and hurt feelings, her temperature rising sharply when:
I was being ignored
Not taken seriously
I was told to calm down
Or – holy Moses – someone “shushed” me.
In all her furious glory, she would arrive on scene; never coming in to negotiate, but to create a pyre of punctuation on whatever I was attempting (and failing) to effectively express. When all hope was lost, she would swoop in and raze the whole village for the benefit of my security and satisfaction. And, boy howdy, did it feel AWESOME.
But the path of destruction was often wide. And there was always a TON of clean-up, because the dragon never thought before she spoke. Or scorched.
My family feared the occasions when I would turn into a fire breathing beast. “Don’t Wake the Dragon,” I imagined them whispering to one another. And that notion filled me with power. Knowing that I was packing that much pure, unadulterated rage provided me the safety I so badly wanted.
Over time I realized it was unwise to use a dragon as a weapon of mass destruction. Unfettered and unchecked, she was causing irreparable harm in my relationships. But, once I recognized her value as a sign of my own fear and discomfort, she became more of a “check engine” light.
Now, when I feel the dragon stirring, I connect to that feeling. I plug into what has awoken her and address the need, the hurt, that exists in that moment. I don’t call for back-up. I tell her, “It’s cool, baby, I got this. I know you’re on stand-by if I need you,” and reluctantly she signs and closes her eyes again. My dragon holds me accountable to deal with my feelings, in the moment, never pushing them off. And if I try to?
Enter the dragon.
To say I don’t tap into the dragon anymore would be false. She once scared the spine out of a man who grabbed my butt on the street when I was a young actress in Hollywood. She supported me in getting the medical help I needed after my son was born when I knew I was very sick, but my doctors dismissed me. Recently, when my dog and I were on a walk in our neighborhood, a giant Alaskan Malamute – think huge dog that closely resembles a wolf – escaped its fence and tried to attack us. As the Malamute chased Gracie, teeth snapping, trying to get a piece of her, I stepped between them, wings extended, nostrils flaring, in full dragon grandeur, and yelled “NOOOOOOOOO!” in unfettered fury. And you know what? That dog just stopped and stared at me. (As did EVERYone else on the street.) If you’ve seen the bear scene at the end of the first episode of Workin’ Moms (WORTH A WATCH!) that was 100% me.
We ALL experience anger. No one is immune. And anger is not a bad thing. It’s a built-in failsafe for when we feel challenged or insecure. But it’s not to be used lightly because we don’t want to hurt the people we love: our kids, our partners, our friends and family, our teammates at work… The key is to get anger’s DMs before the powder keg is lit and heed those messages. When we can do that, we can set healthy boundaries, identify resentments early, have crucial conversations, and ask for support.
No one wants to help a fire-breathing dragon. They just want to run the heck away.
How do you deal with your anger?
Are you using your anger responsibly, or do you get swept up in the maelstrom of your own fear and lash out? You too can train your dragon. You just have to feed it safety, and love, and let it know that you’re listening. Or, as I have learned, it will make you listen. And, in doing so, wreak smoldering havoc on your life.
Anna & the LUMO team
Photo by Darius Soodmand
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