Awakening a Balrog

My mood generally tends to be relatively stable. I have my ups and downs, but the gap between the highs and lows (as least as far as is obvious to others) is generally fairly narrow. When I do hit a low point, it’s almost always of a more depressive nature; I become even quieter than usual and just overall blue and pessimistic.

I very seldom become truly angry. When I do, it is in response to a specific situation or event, and it usually burns itself out fairly quickly. I confess that I do complain rather more often than that but true anger is rare.

And then there are days like yesterday.

Yesterday was one of the rare times when I dug a little too deep when I was a little too raw and tapped into the deep river of rage that lies deep in my shadow. Like the dwarves that dug too deep in the Mines of Moria, I encountered my own Balrog that was bent on my destruction.

I spent much of the day feeling like that rage was oozing out of my pores like black slime. It took almost all of my self-control just to be marginally civil and polite to people around me when all I wanted to do was to spew that black slime all over them. Every little thing infuriated me beyond rational reason. The thoughts running through my head in reaction to things were beyond foul. Let’s just say that it was not one of my better days.

This upswelling of rage was particularly hard to control because it was so diffuse. There was not a simple inciting cause. It was a toxic mix of facing too much of my ugliness too close together, a few too many frustrations piling up, not enough sleep, hormones, and yet another day of miserably hot weather. Mostly though, it was just the digging too deep and encountering so much more of my own ugliness than I was ready to see at one time.

Today the Balrog has mostly slipped back into its subterranean chambers, and I’ve (at least superficially) cleaned up most of the internal destruction left behind by its visit. I am still feeling quite overwhelmed by amount of ugliness I need to deal with, but the rage is subsiding for the moment. However, now I know the Balrog is there. I know that any future attempts to dig in my shadow and face my ugliness may awaken it again. I also know that I need to dig anyway.

The question for me then is not how to avoid awakening the Balrog again—that is inevitable if I truly want to claim my shadow in order to become whole. The question is how to handle my relationships with others the next time it awakens. How do I squarely face the Balrog without spewing black slime on those around me who are innocent (or even not so innocent) bystanders?

I have been moving toward living my life with greater authenticity. I am aiming to be true to myself in every moment even when the Self that I am does not meet with praise or approval from those around me. This is still very much a work in progress for this recovering people-pleaser. But I also believe that it is my responsibility to deal with my own stuff (including Balrogs) without spewing black slime on those around me.

How do I balance being authentically in a space where I am fully facing my inner Balrog while still managing to function in a responsible way in my usual day-to-day life with people who don’t deserve the black slime that’s oozing out of my pores?

Yesterday I managed by holding it in as much as possible and settling for just coming across as mopey and distant to those I was trying to protect. I kept imagining a force field around me holding in all the violently stormy energy from the inner battle with the Balrog to keep it from spilling over onto anyone else. It took everything I had in me to hold that force field in place, which I know caused me to be less than pleasant to be around. I didn’t like knowing that my mood was still affecting others, but I couldn’t find a better way to keep the collateral damage to a minimum.

This is a question I need to find a better answer to before I encounter the Balrog again. I need to know how to authentically be in foul mood without taking it out on other people. I don’t want to just stuff the anger, I don’t want to lie about it, and I don’t want to put on a mask and pretend it’s not there. I also don’t want to spew black slime on anyone else. There must be a better way to balance these things. I just don’t know what it is.

A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight are not welcome here and will be deleted.