The way to remove darkness from a room is simply to turn on a light. In the same way to rid yourself of any difficulty, concentrate on the solution rather than the problem.
—Daniel Levin, Zen Oracle Deck
I’m a renewed fan of the manga Fullmetal Alchemist. I watch each episode now with more conscious eyes. View anything from a conscious eye, and it sparks questions of how it relates to life in real time.
Alchemy—a transformational process of construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction. In the manga, all alchemists create a transmutation circle which allows them to transmute the energy of one source to another of equal mass. However, Full Metal, the code name for Edward Elrich’s character, can do this without a circle—a “secret” he acquired during a risky transmutation exchange.
I considered the art of transmutation with anger, another form of energy yet to be mastered.
Passion, the root of anger, is an intense, driving force of feeling or conviction. Merriam-Webster includes the word “overmastering” in their definition, so it is possible to master our anger through passion?
Feelings of anger tend to be triggered by incidents left bottled up in our belly—the seat of our emotions. The bottled-up feelings burst and transmute into destructive behavior. The aftermath unearths a rebirth that’s not always positive.
Could it be the Phoenix was an angry bird, tired of her old life, and allowed herself to combust to cleanse her spirit of what no longer served her?
My own angry narrative reads of dismissal. Emotions categorized as erratic behavior. People made a point to remind me I have so much to be grateful for, and they aren’t wrong. Just wasn’t where I was at the time. Didn’t have an “anger manager” to teach me how transform those feelings into something useful, so the fire regressed back into a bottle of repression. Anger soon became this misunderstood feeling I couldn’t quite grasp or verbalize. The source undetermined. A dangling feeling that would manifest as manic words on a page or nasty ones spewed at a loved one or unsuspecting innocent.
To say anger is only allowed to those who experience trauma minimizes the experience of another. Being a woman of color, specifically, our anger is constantly minimized as unwarranted banter, but Solange Knowles says, you gotta right to be mad… From Serena to Cardi B, even fellow colleagues in the workplace, all treat their anger as side-hustle emotion with no room for growth and scale.
“Angry” Woman Archetypes
I’m sure the woman with metaphorical platinum spoon gets a deep side-eye when she expresses distaste with her controlling parents. Their constant need to silence her voice and impose upon her an “adult path” absent of her own mind and beliefs. Although their intrusive behavior could be the result of financial codependency or her parents trying to live life through her, we’ll never know, because her anger is dismissed. I mean, daddy pays her way, so what is her real complaint, right?
Lack of individuality becomes an issue here, and the expectation to build relationships off a family name is daunting because no one seems to see them outside of that. Fear of expressing their own free thoughts because it may be misquoted in a public forum for likes and reach.
I contemplate how frustrating it can be. Afraid to speak out and assert their need and desire for individual happiness without being “cut off.”
Maybe the woman in the underserved community never sought to have multiple kids and lose sight of her dreams. Spend half her childhood caring for her brothers and sisters because grandma worked twelve-hour shifts or because mom couldn’t juggle the responsibility alone or because her dad chose the hustle over parenting.
These are only surface issues, though, because I’m sure her story runs deep.
Because many of us only look at the surface, see her pop out that EBT card in Whole Foods, ’cause at least she’s trying to be healthy, we judge. Give her the bootstrap lecture and do our due diligence to hold her accountable for her lack of action. Is she wrong for feeling as if the same government programs geared to help her, enabled her due to lack of resources, restricted funding, or case managers who play favorites and fudge numbers to maintain federal assistance?
A seed to consider.
Then there’s the working woman. She works her ass off for those racks of cash, three weeks PTO, and the self-care indulgences each quarter, but that hard work hasn’t netted her anything besides net pay. The proverbial glass ceiling, quite the reality, and the need to take a leap became the daydream that keeps her up a night and doped up on caffeine. She fears trotting down the same path as the woman she saw at Whole Foods swiping the EBT card—though secretly she wishes it was her. The anger courses through her belly and grows. At her break point, she expresses her disdain with the economy and tax bracket disparities during her monthly girls’ brunch, but her friends quickly remind her should be grateful she can even afford brunch.
But should she?
Each day, she navigates through the “big boy” terrain, shattering glass ceilings left and right. Constantly planning her next move, only to be told she isn’t qualified to make one but too qualified to stay where she is and can’t seem to get the qualifications that would make her qualify for the qualified.
Angry they can’t seem to break through. Angry that friends and family minimize their experience into simple affirmations to be repeated three times, while you spin around and touch the ground, but that isn’t always realistic. Their feelings, our feelings, in this moment, right now, are realistic, and it behooves us to constantly tell women they must wish them away as if they never existed. As if their anger, no matter the source, is invalid.
When did we become Justice?
An Angry Solution Prescribed by Alchemy
I sought alchemy as the perfect resolution to our anger because it requires us to master our emotions yet doesn’t dismiss or minimize what we feel. Our anger evolves into a solution, not a problem. The fuel we need to propel forward. The idea of alchemy requires our focus on passion as the source and to reconfigure it into useful matter. Full Metal uses his alchemic power to emerge an iron staff from the ground and fight against his enemies.
Are you willing to use your anger as a means to fight against your enemy?
In this case, the enemy is self: woman vs. woman. Anger as an alchemic formula for healing requires us to be like the fire bender and redirect the energy into a new passion. We deconstruct the old path and reconstruct a new one.
If you are the woman in the underserved community, can you take that anger and use it as fuel to push through the roadblocks? Make those “superiors” your footstool. Demand your worth because, deep down, you’re worth more. Are you willing to see yourself as the Phoenix, burn down everything you thought you knew, rise from the ashes, and soar?
As the working woman, can you wrangle your anger and create your own position or start a company of your own? Design a way to kill the narrative that you are only as good as your last good deed, master your finances and carve out the best life you can possibly live. Are you willing to accept that you alone are the master of your destiny?
To the platinum spoon baby, you are not your parents’ name. Understand that an angry woman with money longer than a man’s peen is the world’s greatest threat. Can you tap into the likes of every woman who’s played the boy’s boardroom and be the Queen you are? You run the board. Allow your anger to be the leverage to attain your “pawns,” find you a good rook and work the hell outta that board. Money and status may be an access key, but it is your passion, through anger, that will set you apart from all the other players in the room.
Instead of a lightning bolt of rage, we must create a metaphorical transmutation circle and transmute our anger to solutions. Anger is rarely, if ever, viewed as a gateway to a solution because it is seen as a fault. “Miss Which” in A Wrinkle in Time gifted Meg with her faults as a superpower. We when accept our anger as a solution, as opposed to a fault, we become “passion alchemists” and use that energy as a portal to set ourselves free. When you claim agency over your faults, no one or thing can own you.