Today I am going to write about anger. Anyone who has followed my posts for a while will know that anger is something I’ve just not felt in relation to my healing process or in therapy at all really. I mean sure, I’ve got angry; I’m not a saint! but in terms of processing anger in regards to the abuse and the trauma I’ve experienced I had none. Zilch. Over the years T has tried to encourage me to find my anger, telling me that I would feel better once I had. Telling me I was safe to express my anger to or even at her, but I still couldn’t find it. However I have a feeling that might be about to change.
I have briefly mentioned this already but in order to make total sense of things for my own sake, I may repeat myself slightly. A few weeks ago my Dad got pissy with me for saying that I couldn’t attend a family event that is taking place later in the year. His reaction really pissed me off – an unusual reaction for me. I thought I was just laughing it off really until I went to my session a couple of days after and spoke to T about it and then the longer we spoke about it, the more pissed off I became! I even said to her, jokingly(?) “God I feel angry about it now – thanks for that!” but in hindsight it was less about my Dad’s actions so much as the fact that his actions triggered me – he had inadvertently triggered me to feel something I have very seldom felt before which I now believe to be anger.
The anger I felt was about more than his actions, although it is true to say that it was his actions that pissed me off initially once I started to dig down a bit I realised there was more to it than that. I was angry with him and his passive aggression. I was angry with him for sulking, for being what I considered selfish and I was angry with him for making me feel something I had felt so many times before. That’s when the penny dropped I suppose.
The thing I had felt so many times before was manipulated. Consciously or unconsciously I have been manipulated A LOT and have been taught to give in to other people’s demands. It was so automatic that I didn’t even realise I did it.
My mother taught me that I had to please her at all times otherwise she would reject me, humiliate me, ignore me or rage at me which could include verbal and/or physical punishment.
My father spent many years absent from my life when I was growing up because of numerous things, but partly as I can now see, due to the fact he struggles with rejection and disappointment himself and seems to act out passively and give people the silent treatment/take himself and his love away.
So called “friends” whom I am no longer acquainted with used to give me shit if I didn’t say “yes” to their requests. You may remember one who I used to write about “Tina” who used to really act out if I didn’t have lunch with her every single day at work. If I was to go to the gym or see my (now) husband, I would be made to feel VERY guilty and she would sulk by huffing and puffing, shouting things at me when I walked past her desk, sending me emails saying she spent the hour crying on her own about this or that etc etc…
I grew up so used to this sort of behaviour that I had absolutely no idea it was happening and no idea that I gave into it constantly regardless of what I wanted. I didn’t even know what I did or didn’t want. This does also go as deep as the sexual abuse I experienced – I didn’t, couldn’t, say no. I just froze. I had learnt to let people do, say and take whatever they wanted. I had no rights. Or so I thought.
This last week or so I have started to feel the rumblings of some anger under the surface. I told T that this stuff with my Dad had made me realise that actually, I DO have some anger. I am fed up of people acting like this when they don’t get their own way or when I say I can’t or don’t want to do something. Suddenly I felt kinda righteous and like “NO!! I SAID NO!!”. I haven’t actually done that, but that is the feeling.
To repeat myself a little again, Friday morning I woke up for work and I felt perfectly normal. I got up, showered, put on my make up and then remembered it was dress-down at work so went to the wardrobe to find something to wear. It all went downhill rather rapidly at that point and as I have already written, I then began to get angrier and angrier and more and more stressed and irritated and wound up until BOOM!!! I exploded and burst into floods of tears and cried and cried for about ten minutes. I’ve already written about this so I won’t go into it more but it was horrible. One of the worst things about the thoughts I was having is that they feel so REAL. In the moment it really does feel like it is about the fact I am feeling ugly and fat and that I have no fashion sense and I look shit compared to everyone else etc… but I have done enough therapy now to know that is not really what it is about. The clothing/appearance anger is just an excuse, just a little way out for all of that pent-up anger inside me to leak out… it was as though the anger started to slowly leak out through a little hypothetical pipe and then realised it was onto a good thing and so the pressure built up and up and up until I exploded and the pipe burst!!!
It wasn’t until I was sat on the train finally on my way to work (20 minutes late) that I recalled T’s words the afternoon before about not taking my anger out on anyone else OR MYSELF!! Strangely I felt a tiny bit of relief instantly as I remembered that. I also thought to myself that the critical voice I spent an hour listening to that morning hadn’t been around for a long while and that the critical voice which tore apart my weight, clothes, hair etc was in fact an internalised voice – my mother’s. She felt the need to constantly comment on how I looked and needless to say, I never looked good enough. Get your hair dyed, buy some better clothes, get a nose job, lose some weight, put some make up on and… get a boob job. Not to mention the insults such as how my type of legs (fat) were inherited by my “father’s side of the family“. Grrrrr even typing this pisses me off at the moment.
I felt delicate and sad and tired all day on Friday after that and work felt like it would never end. Luckily it did eventually end and in the evening I rushed home to get ready to go out with my sister. I didn’t really want to go in all honestly, not because of anything to do with her though, just that I felt down and sad and I cried again when I finally got home – just releasing the tears that had been leftover and held inside all day. However we went and we had a fun night and when I got home I felt glad I had gone and actually thought to myself that going out and doing something which took my mind off of what was in my head entirely was exactly what I needed AND what I should do more often. I realised as I thought that, that I often want to be alone or at home when I feel down but that perhaps this was a better way. I thought then, and think now, it is a hard balance isn’t it? Giving yourself space to feel and think without wallowing in it, you know?
I headed off to bed Friday feeling much better. I had enjoyed my time with my sister and been able to see the kids when I got home. I had a night full of dreams again but I couldn’t remember any detail when I woke up, that isn’t unusual for me, particularly after a day like that.
Yesterday I got up and had a normal morning with my husband and the kids. The plan was that he was going to head off with the kids about 1pm as they had various things and places to go and I was going to spend the afternoon at home on my own. That had sounded like bliss to be honest and I was looking forward to some alone time. I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere, as they would have my car but I thought I might have a bath, write on here, do some exercise, watch some crap tele…. however when it came to it, I felt a bit lonely at the idea of being here on my own and felt like I would miss them all. I surprised myself by this!! Giving up the chance of some alone time was so not me. I thought to myself that last night I hadn’t really wanted to go out and it had done me good and that perhaps I should listen to the part of me that was wanting to go TOWARDS company rather than run away from it and give it a go. I also thought that I do have a few hours to myself every week after my second therapy session so all was not lost. So I went, and I was glad I did as we did have a good time.
On the way back from taking the kids home I asked my husband if we could go to my Dad’s house as we had “wasted the day“. He was pretty annoyed by this and we began to argue a bit. He was offended that he had paid for us all to have lunch out that day which wasn’t cheap and that we all kept saying the day had been a waste and were ungrateful. I had snapped back that I only came along for his sake (which actually wasn’t true was it). We drove the rest of the way not talking and then he said he was so tired he could barely drive and so we got home and he slumped on the sofa and I stropped around upstairs putting my pjs on. I thought to myself at the time, why do you want to go out again? You’ve barely been home all weekend! The voice in my head kept telling me that I was wasting the weekend.
This morning I woke up feeling wide awake and went downstairs to make a cup of tea. I felt like we had to do something today, that we couldn’t “waste” another day. I took hubby a cup of tea up and persuaded him that we should get up and ready and then I would drive us to the seaside where we could go for a long walk and stop for breakfast. He said we couldn’t afford breakfast (usual argument!) and so I said okay, a cup of tea then which he agreed on. We did that and it was lovely.. BUT..
Buuuttttt… we went into this lovely café and it was very busy. I stood at the bar for literally about 20 minutes waiting to order 2 cups of tea and still wasn’t served. In the end I felt irritated and walked back to the table where I told hubby we should go somewhere else. I moaned that it was ridiculous in there. I felt peed and hubby was smiling at me with a “you’re stroppy” look on his face. I hate that look lol.
We started to walk a bit further and then he said there was nothing else for miles and that we would be better to head back the way we had come. Suddenly and out of nowhere I felt SO ANGRY again. In my head everything was ruined. The walk was shit. I was cold. There was no tea (I know, get the violins!). He said we were having a lovely walk and it was exactly what I had wanted to do and I said nothing, feeling just anger inside my chest. We walked for about 10 minutes in silence, every now and again hubby pointed something out like the coastguard or a type of car or bike and I raised my eyebrows – totally uninterested. Anyway, a while later after getting the car and driving to a place that did sell tea, we were sat on the beach and I felt such a wave of something…. kinda anger and sadness and just irritation. I said to hubby that I really wanted to book a break away and he said we had only just had one. I told him going away with his entire family and all the kids wasn’t quite what I had in mind and that I was craving a few days away just the two of us. He didn’t say anything, but I could tell he was pissed off. Pissed off that I wanted a break or pissed off because we are meant to be saving money or just pissed off because I was irritable – I don’t know, maybe all of the above. I then said something else (I can’t remember what now) and he exhaled deeply with irritation. A moment later he said “what’s wrong?” and I said that nothing was wrong. He said “you can’t tell me you are perfectly happy right now, can you?” and with that tears started falling down my face. I said no. Unusually for him, he didn’t hug me. He just carried on looking down the beach and at the sea. I stopped crying pretty much as soon as I had started but I acknowledged there was stuff stirring inside me. It was there and it was still coming out at random moments. The clothes thing Friday, the wanting to go out last night, the tea in the café….
A toddler walked by with his parents who was having an almighty strop. He was red-faced and angry. Shouting and crying and dragging his feet and I looked at him and thought “you lucky thing being able to express yourself like that! – Go on, give em’ hell!” LOL what a weird thing to think?
Weirdly it passed after that, like almost immediately and I drove us home feeling alright again. When we got home we cleaned our house which always makes me feel better and then we popped to the shops for food and then had a nap on the sofa.
Writing this out I am thinking that perhaps my need to keep busy this weekend was to avoid the feelings, avoid the thoughts. Perhaps it is my unconscious fear of anger – even my own. Especially my own perhaps?
I am writing this out to acknowledge to myself that something is shifting inside. I am feeling anger for maybe the first time. I am feeling resentful and angry and bitter about the ways certain people treated me. I am feeling those feelings and I think I am entitled to feel that way really. It is a new feeling for me but it is about feeling I am allowed to have boundaries and opinions. That it is NOT fair or okay for people to act their aggression and disappointment out on me when they don’t get their own way. That I can say no, and I should not have to deal with the consequences.
I have spent some time on Google this weekend reading about anger and particularly anger in therapy and anger as part of healing from trauma and it seems that it is exactly what needs to be felt. I particularly liked this quote:
Anger that is associated with trauma is an indication of melting or thawing. It is a positive sign that the energy trapped during the traumatic experience is trying to find a way to be expressed, ultimately resolving itself. It is also a positive sign that one’s sense of self that was damaged during the trauma is growing back.
It talks about how it is a “healthy need to heal the fight energy inside us“. That it is a “desire to move upwards on the scale of ones ability to defend their rights“. “An indication of self-esteem“. I will add this link as I found it so helpful.
So at least that is all positive, right? It seems that T was right these last 5 years and that feeling the anger really WILL help me. Who would have known huh? LOL.
Now I just need to try to find ways that I can feel the anger, release it but without hurting myself or anyone else in any way. It is unpredictable at the moment but I guess it is new to me so hopefully I will find ways to learn to deal with it and learn it is okay to feel it.
In a strange way I quite like the fact that I can even feel this way. I quite like the fact that I want to have a good sense of self and know that my needs and wants are just as important as everyone else’s. I like that I have grown this much in therapy that I can feel angry if people overstep my boundaries or do not respect me or treat me properly. That’s what “normal” people feel like, right?
Ha. Welcome the shift.