Survivor Aftereffects List #12

12. Anger issues: inability to recognize, own or express anger; fear of actual or imagined rage; constant anger; intense hostility toward entire gender or ethnic group (race) of the perpetrator.

I think that anger is an integral part of being a survivor as much as it is an integral part of healing.

I have read from several psychological books that anger is not the original emotion. The original emotion is usually caused by being wounded by someone else. Often leading to fear and then anger.

So often we as survivors are taught that our anger is bad, malicious, evil by those who choose to control and abuse us. They often teach us through abuse and manipulation to hate and fear our anger. We often have to shut it off completely while living in the  environment of terror and abuse.

So often our society lets us down as well by blaming and shaming us further for our interpersonal challenges and anger issues. Our society says in so many ways it is okay to look the other way, it is okay to not help us and not make the world a safer and less violent world for survivors and future children.

I’ve had so many people talk about forgiveness. They always seem so uncomfortable with anger and pain that they are willing to intervene in my healing so they don’t have to face abuse, its consequences, and its aftereffects.

I’ve had therapists who counseled forgiveness before I was even able to talk about my mother abusing me. I had a therapist who showed more compassion in words and body language for the woman who beat and raped me repeatedly than to me. This was a deal-breaker for me. I deserve the therapist’s compassion and acceptance, wherever I am in my healing, at the good spots and in the bad ones

To see these connections between our being abused and our emotional landscape can often assist us in our lives and in our healings. Here are some of mine:

I have had all these issues around anger and rage. I never thought that anger was an issue for me. I tried to unconsciously disown it. That was not very successful.

My family scapegoated me. They would often tease, taunt, and bully me to get me upset, hurt, and to cause me to get angry, raise my voice, swear. It was all fun for them. If I did, they believed and acted as though they had “won.” This has happened most of my life. The only way to stop it was to stop having contact with any relative who does that.

Because of this feeling they elicited in me, of being out of control, I don’t like having angry or rageful feelings for someone else while I am talking or interacting with them. I need some space and some time to process what uspet me before I can talk about it. It takes me days to talk myself through the issues so I can finally go to the other person and tell them as calmly as possible what is bothering me, if it is a huge issue. Otherwise I don’t bring up issues between others, I embrace peace instead, sometimes at too high a cost.

When I am angry with someone that I do not know well, like a neighbor or another person on the bus or at a fast food place, for example, I have learned to say nothing. It is easier to say nothing and to walk away. I have had too many bad experiences trying to deal with others.

The only place that really gets me triggered into anger in public anymore is when I ride my bicycle and drivers are driving too fast or too near me, not braking for me when I am in the middle of the road or in a crosswalk and other dangerous and illegal behaviors that put me in danger. I’m working on that. It is really, really hard.

I can say that I used to hate and fear all men. Underneath that was as strong of a hatred and distrust with women that I only understood after I started to remember the mother-daughter sexual abuse. Slowly I have been able to heal that. It is a long road.

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