Anger and I don’t get on very well – I grew up being taught to not hit back if I was hurt, to turn the other cheek, to take it ‘like a man’ and not complain – yet I felt the injustice of injury towards myself, and, as I grew up, I also felt keenly the injustice meted out to others who could not fight back or protect themselves.
I got into real trouble with my inability to own my appropriate anger when I allowed myself to get involved in a co-dependent relationship. I tried to always please her, always ‘rescue’ her, but when I inevitably failed I didn’t have the confidence and strength to stand up for myself when I was attacked and injured for my incompetence, including my inability to express my anger – which is a genuine part of me.
In participating in a series of Vocal Movement Therapy workshops with others I gradually found myself feeling safe enough to get back in touch with those raw feelings and unexpressed pains in a way that was creative rather than destructive (something I had always feared about getting in touch with my anger) – I starting creating my own rock song and vocal persona to match it ! – it was fun and liberating. It felt true to me because it came from me and from the secret delight and envy I had always had for rock drummers, guitarists and, above all, vocalists who get to let it all out! Now, in the safety and support of a creative, exploratory community of fellow vocal travellers, I was given the tools to play with my anger in a creative and releasing way. After so much past anxiety about anger I’ve still got some more journeying to do. But my experience of Vocal Movement Therapy has proven to me that anger can indeed be my friend because I can allow myself to own that feeling in safe and creatively rewarding and fun ways.
Mark is the Dean of Education, Australian Film Television and Radio School. In 2009, he was awarded the Gilbert Spottiswood Churchill Fellowship to study healthcare practices for actors in training and in the workplace in the UK. He is the Chair of the Health Promotion subcommittee of the Australian Society for Performing Arts Healthcare (ASPAH) and a member of the Human Research Ethics Committee for the Australian College of Theology.