one way or another, I’m gonna get ‘im
PREVIOUS: ACTIONS – Fearful
3. ACTIONS (cont)
a. Fearful reactions
b. ANGRY reactions to painful events
💥 Attack / Revenge (sue, fight, yell…)
This is the most obvious & direct. The need to be violent – verbally, physically or legally – is used by some ACoAs as a way of venting old pain on the world – anyone except facing the original perpetrators, if possible.
OR we may have tried every other avenue to resolve a problem, but to no avail. Then the only recourse left is to go after our tormentor directly, never considering “letting go”.
⚒ The dysfunctional ‘acting out’ of our rage is WIC’s response to decades of abuse & abandonment. We’re not crazy, only traumatized
⚒ Continuing to be angry in the present is still wanting the impossible – to be loved & accepted by people who can not & will never be able to provide them!
✶ Remember: When we still over-react to a particular event – it does not mean all our recovery is invalidated. Nip any S-H in the bud! “Progress, NOT Perfection”
💥 Gossip Maliciously – almost any group of people in regular, long-term contact is prone to gossiping. Mostly it’s a common but unhealthy way to pass the time & connect with peers.
However, when ACoAs are in a rage at someone (X), we want to do harm, to make them look bad, in the same way we feel harmed. Then we :
• act like a victim, martyr, the ‘white hat’
• tell secrets we know about (X)
• make up false info to damage (X)‘s rep
• seduce others away from (X) – by shifting people’s allegiance to ourself
💥Make Fun Of – making jokes at someone’s expense …. While gossip & teasing is indirect, this is a more obvious way to show anger at (Y). Sometimes we believe our meanness has been earned by (Y), at other times it’s just displacing our rage at someone else like a boss, parent or mate
EXPs: Jimmy is a popular techie at a big company, who likes to ‘stir the pot’, & gets away with a lot of bad behavior using charm & gossip. He’s taken a special dislike to an older woman, who undeservedly reminds him of his alcoholic, controlling mother. He has a key chain ornament of a cow that mo-o-os when squeezed. For months, every time he passes the woman, he squeezes the cow & smiles impishly. To please him, all of his coworkers are also amused. When reprimanded, he finally stops.
💥Sulk – ‘staring daggers’ , ‘if looks could kill’ ….↖️
While this too is about not talking (being mute), it is by no means passive. Others can feel the rage emanating from us & generally stay away!
In this case, not saying anything may be that:
• it’s not appropriate right then (in public, at work…)
• we’re so unprepared for a nasty comment or shocked by a scary event, that we can’t find the words at that moment
• we’re afraid of our own intensity – that we’ll do some long-term damage, either physical or emotional, if we let fly
OR • we’re afraid of being punished if we speak up, & we could be
EXP: Zina worked for an active alcoholic who constantly pushed her buttons. She didn’t know how to stand up for herself, felt she owed him for helping her out at the beginning, & didn’t want to lose her job. So she just fumed!
One day she overheard her boss telling someone: “That Zina has the loudest silences”! She was shocked because she hadn’t realized her (unexpressed) anger was radiating such intensity. It also made her see she needed to change jobs, which she eventually was able to do
💥Tease – always an indirect form of anger & is always abusive. It’s a way to ‘get back at’ someone by using a personal trait against them – their name, size, religion ethnicity, way of talking….. such as ‘hazing’ a new student or employee. It’s a form of adult scapegoating, & leaves permanent emotional scars if continually repeated.
But since teasing is couched in humor, it’s generally considered ‘good fun’, harmless & socially acceptable, therefore allowed & encouraged by others.
But teasing is toxic!
NEXT: ‘Responding Positively to Events’