Monday, June 30, 2008

Anger

I left this comment over at Daily Goddess in response to a post about Anger and it's value and power in our lives:

I began going to a recovery group four years ago to "deal with" my anger. I was embarrassed at my moments of rage. At the shattering of glass against walls. At the constant yelling yelling yelling. What I have discovered through years of peeling back the onion is that I was right to be angry. I just didn't know WHY I was angry. I was hurt and in pain and still expected to walk around as though nothing was wrong. My anger would bubble over at times when I could no longer pretend that everything was fine. That I had never survived any hurts. Now, after putting blame in it's proper place, and now in taking responsibility for my part of the situations I've gone through, only now am I no longer so angry. But without that initial anger, that intense feeling, I don't think I would have taken that road towards self-discovery and to true healing. I think anger is necessary. Just as a fire is needed for seeds to burst forth and a tree to bloom.


I had a LOT of very real reasons to be angry. The problem was I couldn't name the reasons. I stuffed those feelings and did everything I could to control my environment. When I couldn't keep all the plates spinning, I'd lash out at those closest to me for not helping me to keep things in some sort of dysfunctionally perfect order. uuuggghhh... I hate that I was like that!

I know that many people view anger as being out of control, and so do everything in their power to avoid any outbursts that might embarrass them. That's trying to control a very real human reaction because of the concern of what other's might think. I don't mean that we should be allowed to go out and beat someone senseless because they have upset us. I mean, if you are upset or angry with someone, feel the feeling! But stuffing our true feelings is pretty typical for most people. And that's very dangerous to our psyche. We don't want to think we're mean. We don't want to make others uncomfortable. We want people to like us... blah blah blah blah blah...

It was only through hours of prayer and meditation and a lot of group time that I came to understand that I had every right to be angry for things that I had gone through as a child and young adult. I have since "calmed down" now that I have been able to put faces to the feelings of rage. I still have moments where I wish I had a punching bag in the garage, but not like before... not on an hourly or minute-by-minute basis. Now when I'm just so pissed that someone crossed a line with me, rather than trying to control my environment or taking it out on those closest to me, I sit in that anger. And then I write, or run, or take deep breaths... but mostly I sit in it and pray. And sometimes, I even find the strength to go back to the one that crossed my boundary and tell them "That was not cool. You can't do that to me ever again. Have a nice life." If they walk away from me, all the better. Remember, they can warm themselves by my fire, but damned if I'm giving my wood away to anyone who would hurt me ever again!

I've turned a horrible character defect into a positive element in my life. Something shameful into something powerful... yet still so humbling.

So what do you think about anger? Do you allow yourself those moments of just being rightfully pissed off? Or do you control your feelings too well to be enraged when someone has wronged you? Was there a time when anger worked for you, not against you?

Or do you just think I'm some crazy lunatic?

...

12 comments:

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

Hey Miss Sugar - how are you?
The recruiting business has been FICKLE lately.... I've been running around like a chicken with my head cut off but it hasn't led to much DINERO as of late. One thing I have found, this business is FEAST or FAMINE. Not much in between. :-)

Now, onto ANGER. We GRITS (Girls Raised In The South) were raised to not show negative emotions (anger, aggression, etc.) so I still, to this day, have a tough time dealing with anger and conflict. I'm getting better with it though. I DO tend to think if you don't let it out, you eventually turn into a pressure cooker that will blow, so it's better to "feel the feeling" as you say.

smiles4u said...

Found your blog recently and love your honesty and willingness to shareyour life. I think it is awesome that you go to a recovery group to deal with your anger.
I don't think your a crazy lunatic at all. I think there are a lot of angry people in this world. More people need to go to groups like this.

I have always stuffed my anger. I was the target of angry blowups growing up. My father had anger issues and lost it daily...lets just say that I was one of his punching bags for his fists and his mouth...I learned at a very young age to keep my mouth shut...to NOT react and to NOT express my emotions and I didn't for many years. I was one of the great "pretenders" so to speak...I joked, laughed about the painful things...I prized myself for being able to take it with a smile.

I had the opposite of your rage...I turned my rage inwards...I cut myself, I hurt myself, I starved myself, I used drugs and alcohol to numb the pain. Anger scares the shit out of me. I have come a long ways...now I do get angry but it still scares me...I am learning to admit when I am angry. That is big for me. When people around me are angry I still get scared but I run away less then I did before.

Thanks again for sharing...I will be back to read some more!

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

Sugar,
I do recruiting for Insurance Professionals (ie Producers, Account Execs, Account Managers, etc.)

And you are right - it is VERY cyclical. In the Summer (esp in a "tight" economy) no one wants to move. But these same people will be causing my phone to ring off the hook in just a few months!
I do like it, but self-employment is definitely NOT for the faint of heart. :-)

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

You got a PUPPY??? Are you CRAZY?
Just kidding.
Welcome to the Wild World of sleepless nights, "Pee & Poo Free For Alls" amd Wanton Destruction!

I can't wait to see pictures of this little creature!

D'Arcy said...

First of all you are a crazy lunatic, that's why we all love you! Second of all, I used to have a really bad temper from 14-17 (I think it was because I was always so damn hungry) and even now I can be curt or short with my family.

I tend to be a giver in my relationships, and I tend to end up with guys who are takers. Thus I give and give and they keep taking and taking. I never wanted to get angry at them or tell them when they hurt me because I was so worried that it wouldn't work out, or that I needed to not feel these emotions. This is something I still work on and have really improved. I am more about saying what I really feel, about being honest and open, but I do still have that tendency to avoid conflict at all cost and keep it bottled in.

Help! One day and one person at a time. That's my motto right now.

Thanks for sharing these important thoughts and reflections. There is something so truthful and authentic about you, let's build a fire to sit around together one day...we'll each bring our own wood.

suz said...

You are right in your thoughts....I SHOULD let my anger lose, but I keep it in sometimes and I replay images, conversations in my head that i SHOULD have said/done. I do this all the time....I am 40 now, and I almost feel brave enough to put these emotions out there for all to see and hear.
I is a crazy cirle that we go though....you are a talented writer. A witty character. A smart woman. Keep it up...I am enjoying reading about YOU.
take care.
Suz

Naomi said...

i'm like a guy...i'll get real pissed off about something then five min later i'm bored of being mad and onto something else. i always wind up with these guys that want to talk about it...let me walk away! let me cool off! yeeesh. i date macho men yet always wind up being the guy in the relationship.

anyway...i do tend to hold in my anger about certain things under the assumption that i'll forget i'm mad in two minutes, but that doesn't always happen. then next thing you know, i'll annoyed with myself for not saying anything. and it'll replay itself in my brain for years and years to come.

that's why i drink. well, that's what i used to do. now i look at my kid and her cute smiling face cheers me up. i think about what a miracle she is and i forget for a moment that i'm all irritated.

man that was long lol.

Rowena said...

It's so funny, we must all be on the same wave or something. I've been thinking about things like bottling up emotions like sadness and anger and fear, and all those negative things.

I think for many years, I separated myself from those feelings by using the page, better maybe than drugs or cutting, but I still wasn't feeling the emotions. I wrote about them. Analyzed them. Thought about them, turned my feelings into hypothetical equations.

The problem, I think, is that when you bottle up your emotions, it's not just the negative ones that go into hiding, but also the positive ones.

It's okay to be mad or to feel sad, and it doesn't have to be analyzed or fixed or anything.

It's okay just to be.

Ann said...

I'm trying to catch up on blogs a bit, being back from vacation - and GLAD I caught this one of yours.

You ROCK that anger - and I know you know what I mean (now). I'm not sure, but we may have had similarly traumatic childhoods. The kind that cause stuffed rage and anger - or urges to throw glass at walls.

It is only later, when we learn to honor that stuffed anger and rage - pull it out in a safe place, accept it. Re-learn how the heck to be and feel angry. Anger is an emotion and we've every right to it, as long as we emote healthily - as with every emotion.

Yep, I hear you - I really do. And so does my therapist's pocketbook. :)

shani.enns said...

Anger is not so fun, is it? I went through a period of a few years when I when I was really processing childhood traumas, and I would just flip into rage at the smallest thing. I felt like a lunatic. Seriously.

Nowadays I've done and am doing the spiritual work of forgiveness and unattachment. What I realized was that my rage was mostly from all the times I betrayed myself, abandoned myself, sold myself short, allowed abuse to continue when I was old enough and wise enough to know I didn't have to take it (as an adult), and all the times I shut down that inner voice, that higher self that was speaking to me and telling me what was right, just to avoid conflict. I hurt myself so much more than anyone else ever had the power to. I abandoned myself. I found myself to be unlovable, unworthy. I threw myself away. I abandoned my own dreams. It was in those things that the real damage was done. Child abuse was much easier to forgive than what I had done to my own self.

Sitting with your rage is a good practice, but only if it's doing some good and getting you closer to feeling healed and whole, otherwise you are just dwelling in it.

My teacher took me through an exercise where whenever I was upset about something, I asked myself what I was upset about- let's say something we'd see as silly nowadays, just as an example: My brother ate my cookie, and I'm upset about it. What is beneath that? It was mean. What is beneath that? I'm afraid he doesn't like me. (Now we are getting somewhere) What is beneath that? I'm unlovable. What is beneath that? I'm afraid of being alone. What is beneath that? What if God doesn't like me either? What if I'm really alone? What is beneath that? I feel unworthy.

When I did this practice consistently, I discovered this core of unworthiness that colored EVERYTHING in my life, every act, every breath, every thought, every self-abandonment, every rotten, shitty, abusive relationship, and THAT was where my rage truly rooted and blossomed, in that core concept of unworthiness.

It was quite an awakening for me and gave me awareness without which I could have never taken the next step in my own healing and reclaiming of my power and divinity.

~xoxoxo~

shani.enns said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
shani.enns said...

PS: I didn't mean to imply at all that you are wallowing in your anger by sitting with it. For me, I know that allowing myself permission to feel anger or rage was HUGELY healing. Good girls don't get angry, right? Nice people avoid conflict. A decent human being would never make anyone else feel uncomfortable by having strong feelings. It's inappropriate!

Giving myself permission was the hardest step, I think. I felt so empowered by the force of my rage that *I* wallowed in it.

Just wanted to clarify. Please forgive any projection of me onto you. :)