What Is Your Anger Telling You?


The Big New Yorker Book of Dogs | Brain Pickings:

I hadn’t heard from my mother in 6 months until she called me two weeks ago, since our conversation I’ve had sleepless nights. Our talk started off okay then escalated into anger and then a shut down as she hung up.

Such a manipulative conversation, her words have played over and over in my head and made me questioned myself.. I’ve felt confused regarding forgiveness, healing, karma and have found myself in deep processing… again!!

Can I forgive? Can I just get over it?

She decided she wants everyone around for Christmas, and the real reason is about appearances. Not having some of her children there again makes her look bad to the others attending. She’s now lost two kids from the flock.. and I know even her own funeral will be starting to worry her.  Yes even in death she’ll worry about what people think of her.

It didn’t help that on the phone she told me I will never ever heal unless I make up, get over it and forgive my family. She told me it’s my fault the family is suffering. This played in my head for days.. and it’s come to a head today as it’s her Birthday and I need to make decisions.

I’ve been fearing her words that I will never ever heal, after all what if there is truth in that..

But the reality is only she can heal our family, only the truth can heal our family and that’s what I mentioned to her when she abruptly hung up. She didn’t want to hear that .. or go there.

I can heal me and that’s what I’m doing. I can’t heal them and I can’t bite my tongue or hold in my anger just to make them feel comfortable. I will never do that to myself again.

So first up is I’m going to stop censoring my anger. My anger is very real. I do not like my family and love is simply not enough. Coming from a catholic background we are trained to be forgiving and over-ride our darker feelings. Fact is my mother is a manipulative bitch dressed as the sweetest kindest 77 year old woman. What my mother has done to me makes me sick to my stomach. How someone can be so deceitful is beyond me and this is a woman who attended church every Sunday.

In true form (just like my ex-husband) everything has been twisted and projected on me. The only difference now is that I simply don’t give fuck. I don’t care if I lose all of them and that’s what is worrying her. I’m stepping out for good and taking care of myself

I’m pretty sure she’s thinking two things and they’re all about her. First.. God, what will people think of me if my children don’t speak to me… and second that she wants peace and to be comfortable in her old age even if it means scapegoating me.

I will never get closure from my family because they are not up to it and I can accept that. In the past I thought I had forgiven them. I haven’t and I don’t feel I need to.

I’m over my ex. I’m not angry at him anymore but I don’t know if I forgive him, I’ll know I’ll never forgive such abuse – he has no remorse so why would he entitled to my forgiveness. If anything I pity him, he’s just a rotten apple. I’ve really stopped my focus on him, I’m over it and thankfully he’s someone else’s rotten apple now, part of my distant past just a bad memory almost forgotten.

Thoughts of him no longer bring me sadness or anger. I feel indifference, I feel nothing. It doesn’t matter anymore. I have better to look forward to.

Over time my anger will subside towards my family too, but it’s okay to feel it now. My intention is to heal, forget the past and get busy living. So family please stop wasting my time and energy.

Here’s a good post by Christina Enevoldsen on anger.

I can so relate.

Love & baby steps,

SG x

I used to have a persistent fantasy of stabbing my mother in the face. It came to me in sudden flashes accompanied by adrenaline surges.  The recurring image of something so horrific was quite disturbing.  I’d never consider doing anything like that; blood makes me nauseous and even hurting someone’s feelings bothers me.  If I imagined doing something like that, did it make me like my abusers?

It was hard to admit something so awful, even to myself.  I was taught not to ‘entertain negative thoughts’ and conditioned to judge my anger.  The prescribed method for handling such unpleasantness was to ignore it and to think about nice things—nice things like envisioning treating my mom to a facial or stroking her hair.  Imagining loving things while I had so much anger flowing through me was impossible. The frequency and intensity of those thoughts wouldn’t allow me to discount them. Besides, I’d closed my eyes to things long enough and that wasn’t getting me anywhere. I had to face those awful images head-on.    I had to own my desires, face them without criticizing myself and find out their source. Where did that come from?  What purpose did the desire serve?  What was the significance of destroying my mother’s face?  The fantasy was an important clue in my healing process.  By examining it closely, I discovered the reasons why.   I remembered an incident from my childhood sexual abuse.  I was alone with my dad in my parent’s bedroom. My mom took great care in decorating the whole house, but especially their room.  The bedding matched the drapes, which coordinated with the carpet.  Everything was specially chosen.  I sat on the edge of a raised platform that was designed to elevate their bed and make it the focal point of the room. My dad sat on the floor across from me with his collection of Playboy magazines spread out next to him. During the abuse, I looked up at the drapes and thought, even in my fourth grade mind, that appearances were all that mattered to my mom. She could make the house look like a palace, but it would always be a dungeon to me.  My mom was more interested in image than reality. She chose the happy family facade rather than protecting me. My slashing fantasy was an expression of my hated for her effort to make everything look nice, rather than making it nice.  Her face represented the image that was so important to her.   By ignoring the unpleasant, scary flashes, and replacing them with more acceptable images, I was doing the same thing my mom did—I was decorating over the horror.  My desire was a messenger, communicating my specific area of hurt.  Paying attention to my anger allowed me to resolve it.  The only way to resolve it was to acknowledge it and clean it out.   Once I identified where my anger was coming from, it was easier to process it in a healthy way.  I expressed my anger by journal writing, letter writing, (some I sent and some I didn’t), talking it out with friends, crying, shouting and pounding my bed.  I worked through it until I didn’t feel anything. I haven’t thought about hurting my mom in a long time.  Facing the ugly feelings was one of the best things I did for myself.  It helped me to empty out another layer of anger and take another step in healing.


9 thoughts on “What Is Your Anger Telling You?

  1. When I would get angry during my therapy sessions, my therapist would ask me: why the anger? For a long time I thought she was trying to calm me down, but at some point, she insisted that I answer the question. And I couldn’t answer. She told me that anger is a natural reaction when we feel threatened and is part of the fight-or-flight decision-making process. Then she asked me again. And to answer, I had to think in what way I was being threatened. Since then every time I feel angry I ask that question to myself and every time I find something that makes the anger justified. I stopped feeling guilty about getting angry, and that helped reduce the anger and understand that my healing comes first. I have similar manipulation from my parents and these days I am working on not feeling guilty about pushing them away. There are a million miles of emptiness between us, and they will only accept my surrender to them and their empty life (a life both so are desperate to justify). And that’s not going to happen.

    Anger is a survival mechanism. We are survivors, and we are healing. Anger keeps us alive and away from self-doubt. Anger keeps us vigilant.

    • So true.. I always had to suppress my anger within my family. At 48 I’m still learning how to deal with it, but feeling and acknowledging it as my inner truth and then assertively expressing it always lifts my depression… sadly those I express it to don’t want to hear it or heal it, instead I get some sort of ‘payback’ but that’s okay because my focus is on lifting my depression, healing myself and separating from people who don’t care about my feelings.

      Something in me believed by angry was being unkind… it’s sad because it’s the people I’m angry at, that are being unkind to me and I’m just passively putting up with it. Makes me feel pathetic now that I allowed that kind of treatment because I loved them.. but I was trained to be passive..
      Anger is a survival mechanism – really good point!!
      I’ll listen to it from now on.. I’m still learning how to express it effectively. It doesn’t come naturally I have to put a lot of thought into it..

      • I hear you. My parents are in the middle of a drama they created themselves. A psychologist I saw four years ago asked me: I don’t understand, where is your anger? And I didn’t understand what she was asking until I noticed the absence myself while on therapy. Then eventually it dawned on me and hit me like a ton of bricks: my anger was never absent, it was heavily suppressed. Buried as deep as possible, and on top of it gallons of fear, all kinds of irrational and conflicting fears, together with toxic shame. When anger arose, toxic shame would put me down. And I have been fighting the toxic shame all year, and I will keep fighting. My parents bring out the anger in me, anger that expresses how much they are a threat to my life and the way I choose to express myself. I won’t have any of that. I live with the damage, depression, PTSD, and all the other shit I acquired through their “perfect” parenting and abusive behaviours. I refuse to be blamed and at the same time I refuse to be a victim. Both are deadly for me. Poisonous. I own myself; they no longer own me. If they want to be closer to me, they better build the bridges and learn to accept the person I truly am (which of course they perceive as shameful and something they have to hide from the “proper” society). Otherwise, even if they were on another planet, the distance between us would never be big enough. So I am tossing everything into a big bucket that has the label “fuck it” and try to live. For them too, because they reached 75 and they have never figured out how to live. I may as well do it for them.

      • Wow, what you’ve written is really powerful and you’ve learnt so much. I need to read this over and over!
        My story is very similar. I feel the same way. I also can’t run away far enough from these people..
        I never experienced anger until I was around 38. My entire childhood I lived with depression and sadness (suppression).
        So I’m also throwing everything into the ‘fuck it’ bucket :o) I’ve been holding on for years to heal not just myself but my entire family unit.

        Who knew that healing myself would cost me my husband, parents, siblings, adult children, my younger children living with me, my dogs, my family home .. and take years.
        It’s no wonder that healing is too hard for the majority of people.
        I feel like I’ve been through the wringer.. And I’m still sad and grieving my family (even though they’re poison)!! They were all I had.. but I know I need to push forward to healthier love and better things..
        2015 has been a conflicting year for me as what to do next. I’ve had to face many confusing internal fears .. Whether to sell my house or stay put, travel or set up a business..
        I’m now at the point of desperation and guess I have to sell my house!!
        I seem to have a habit of trying to hold onto things that are probably not in my best interest for waaaaay to long!!

      • Yes, I’ve learnt the hard way that I can’t fix or save anyone else other than myself and that I am not responsible for the choices other adults make. That is especially hard because having been abused and lived with depression and BPD means I have also been abusive in the past. Despite never reaching the extents my parents had reached, all I knew was abuse. All my tools were abusive ways I had picked through childhood and teenage years and I grieve for how I behaved despite knowing that I had no real choice because I was ill.

        Freeing myself, meant I had to understand the codependency trap I was in: with my parents, my partner, even my daughter. And then I had to work through toxic shame, fear, and guilt to break the vicious cycle. And of course, I became the one who didn’t keep the promise and moved away. I moved away because I had to find myself. She has always been there, the silent voice coming through the noise and the loud screams of the voices that belonged to my abusers. And that meant I had to learn how to tolerate myself, and then how to love myself. And then I had to learn how to forgive myself.

        It’s a choice. A difficult and even impossible choice for many people. I remember at the end of a session, my therapist Estelle said to me: this is the point where many people stop and go back to living a lie. I didn’t understand it fully – at least not with my rational mind – but I knew one thing and told her: I am not stopping. Not now, not ever. No more lies. Back then I was calling it: change or die. And I fought and still fighting like a bitch from hell and I am changing myself on a daily basis. I don’t mean adapting. I am changing my ways of thinking, examining every single thought that comes from my head, squashing shame and guilt like the cockroaches they are. Then after examination, I decide what to do by asking the woman inside what she wants. And that usually means I have to face the fear that is holding me back.

        Don’t put yourself down by saying you hold on to things for too long, stay positive. You hold on for as long as you need and proceed when you are ready. Your life, your fight, your decisions, your choice. Not the society’s, not parents’, not friends’. Only yours. And look how far you’ve come. I am sure the New Year will be amazing for you.

      • Thank you for your comment <3 It hit home and I couldn't reply, I'm not sure why but I think I had to process things a lot of painful things .. It's a good thing really – just really painful.I haven't as yet replied to a lot of good comments (that hit home over Christmas and New year). It's not like me .. On was on an emotional rollercoaster, angry one minute, sad the next and living in the future not the present. I guess the build up to Christmas was hard I ate at least 10 litres of Vanilla ice cream and around 30 large size packet of chips! I actually didn't make myself feel bad I enjoyed it!.. but I haven't done that in years so I did feel out of control and emotionally confused as to what was going on. I felt like running, running away from the dysfunction and starting again. Running even from my children. I've been in this for years and I'm tired and feel I need some sort of normality with people. People who can listen and talk and deal with the hard emotions or a least try.
        I was alone and started questioning everything about myself. Is it me that's wrong, maybe I need to forgive everyone, is this petty and immature, maybe even though I try really hard maybe I don't communicate or express my true feelings, maybe I could see their point of view. Maybe I am part of the problem?
        I try so hard to fix things with my family and children maybe so I can fix me. Some part of me believes if I can just get peace with them I can get peace with me, but I can't release it.They are not letting me release my pain so it can heal. I'm not getting closure, I'm tired of trying to communicate more effectively and still failing..
        I'm still not happy… but in writing this I can see clearly I need the support of friends who are willing to talk the hard stuff and I have a few through an anxiety meetup. I just need to put myself out there and connect more. I want more than this and I know I deserve more.. Happy New Year to you too xx Thanks for helping me process the hard stuff. I needed it over the holidays <3

      • Hey don’t worry about replying and how long it takes, time is irrelevant. Our minds need time to process things. I know mine does. Depending on the particular issue, it may be a few days, up to several months, even years. The truth is that my mind is a tangled mess because of confused parenting, where they projected in me all their fears and anxieties and used abuse to enforce them. I am untangling the shit, and that needs time. Seems you are going through the same process.

        Guilt and fear, the same thing. I am going to forgive my abusers, but that won’t change a thing in how far I stay from them. Forgiveness is for my peace of mind. They want to justify their empty lives by making sure I have a similar empty life as they had, so we can all sit down brooding and say: “what can we do, such is life”. Not going to happen. I’m done sacrificing myself.

        For me, the point where things began to change was when I stopped feeling guilty for pushing my old life back. Last Friday I spoke with my parents, and when my mother used emotional abuse once more, I told her that I am not interested in what she thought, and her opinions, and I would do whatever I wanted. She expressed her anguish over how we seem to be fighting every time we speak, and I told her this: if you don’t want us to fight then accept me as I am. Unsurprisingly she shut up, and we went on to talk about the weather. And this was the first time I didn’t feel guilt and fear.

        We are not on an easy path. We are conditioned to function inside codependency and breaking that trap takes everything we have. And yes sometimes I had to raid the kitchen and calm down through excessive eating, and you know what? We need to do whatever we need to do to survive, process the nightmares, expunge them, and live our lives the way we want. In the past whenever I ate all I did was feel guilt and shame. Now I acknowledge I have a problem I need to face. And I face it and do it with love. It’s the part my parents and my ex-partner don’t understand. They spent their lives hating themselves, their lives, their bodies, everything. That’s a horrible way to live. I am learning how to live with love and love everything I am. It takes time; I’m in the fourth year of learning how to do everything with love. But I’m getting there, one baby step at a time. And so are you.

        It takes time. Trust in yourself. Use whatever you need to and have available to you, to go through the difficult times: therapist, friends, anything. The thing is, change requires a suitable environment if we need to sustain it and make it grow. If I were to go back to my old life, that would be deadly, because that is a codependent environment that promotes stagnation, fear, guilt, and all the rest. And life is too short to live like that. So I think a fuck-it bucket is probably the best tool ever (okay second best – a good therapist is number one). :D

  2. Without true understanding and expression of our anger we are truly F”£&ed! The body knows our truth. If we bury it, it will out some other way in sickness of some kind or pain. Anger is the cry from our true self knowing when we have been violated or hurt, tells us where our boundary lies and what we truly need and when we are being diminished or abused. If we don’t own it, if we bury it the body will suffer.
    As for your Mum’s comment you will never heal. You heal when you embrace and process your anger and abusers are invested in that NOT happening.
    Dont give her words any air time in your head. They are wrong.

    • Happy New Year EftDN <3 I'm so sorry I haven't replied to your comment. It was a really good one and gave me a lot to think about. I need to remember this especially the embracing and processing my anger … I think that what I've been doing.
      I was in such a bad space over Christmas and New Year and I haven't as yet acknowledged lots of comments.. I feel bad because you've all helped me through tough times. I hope you realized I was just too messed up and not being rude.

      Christmas and NY's were really hard, my 4 kids all on holiday with their Dad and new wife/ kid in Vietnam (he pays for everything even their boyfriends and wives) and it's total luxury.
      And not attending my family Christmas. I got a couple of txts at Christmas from my kids that I initiated, that's about it.. I felt so f*cking angry and sad that they are even with him, he cheated, lied and stole but he has millions and gives them an amazing lifestyle. And he's not bitter and twisted because he robbed me! Whereas I'm on the sickness benefit and still healing. I was with him for 28 yrs and the financial side is complicated.
      Ahhh. life is messy. I have options though. I don't have to remain a victim. I could still fight him through the Courts (after I sell my house) which he will drag out for years but I could win millions or I can throw myself into a little travel, life, peace and new friends.. either way I take back my power and my life.
      But right now I need friends, love and support so I’m going to continue going to the meetups for anxiety and depression. Good people there :o) xx

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