I WALLED UP MY ANGER – now I’m afraid to open it up
Anger Triggers (#3)
SITEs: “8 reasons why we’re afraid of anger” (scroll down)
ACoAs: For those of us who grew up with physical or sexual abuse, &/ or others kinds of verbal & emotional cruelty – snide remarks, making fun of, insulting, dismissing…. most of us will do anything to not be like ‘them’.
Even as kids we figured that if we could just be a good enough “good-girl or boy” we could tame the troll (us), to get the love & safety every kid craves. But no matter how hard we tried, we never succeeded in assuaging the beast (them), never feeling truly safe.
CHART – a shorthand way to look at the range of possibilities – from the most frightening (chaotic) to the safest kind of parenting. For most of us it wasn’t just one parent causing all the problems, but some combination of many adults we were stuck with.(“Parenting styles”)
No matter what personality we were born with, all children need stability, to have a reliable base from with to experiment, learn & risk as they explore themselves & all the newness of the world.
BUT most of us lived in chaos, which was terrifying.
Terror inevitably creates anger, & if the scary, painful, unfair, crazy-making circumstances go on for years, the child’s anger at the abuse & neglect will eventually turn into rage. Living in chaos is always harmful to children, regardless of our family’s intention.
Re. US – ACoAs BELIEVE THAT:
• all anger is bad / dangerous & inevitably leads to violent behavior
• being angry at anyone means we are bad
• our anger can kill others, even if we don’t express it – just by feeling it – so we can never be angry at our parents, no matter how hurt by or frustrated with them we feel
• we have to protect others from our rage, no matter the cost to us
• if ‘they’ knew how angry we were they’d never love us, & then we’d die, floating alone in the cold outer reaches of black space!
AND some of us have had the experience that expressing our anger at them got us beaten, hit, old-shouldered, verbally attacked (“How dare you ___! Don’t talk to your___like that!”)….. So we shut as much of our anger off as we could, & stuffed more hurt into the POT.
Re. OTHERS – We assume anger PROTECTS us IF WE:
• are angry all or most of the time (keeps people away)
• are angry first, to preempt anger from others
• retaliate with personal attacks
• cut ‘them’ out of our life completely
• play the victim to make others feel guilty
• tell others how awful this person is (for being angry at us)
• say it’s ok if someone’s angry & then punish them when they do
• are SO good that they can never find anything about us to be angry over (we think)
• insist /demand that others never get angry at us, because we’re too delicate / can’t handle anger / it’s un-spiritual (not pleasing to God) / we don’t deserve it…
IN CONVERSATION, when someone gets angry at us, ACoAs may:
• Completely ignore both the anger & the issues, & change the subject
• Respond stoically, logically, ‘deal with it’, placate (“I understand / Oh that’s OK….)
• Immediately feel guilty, take all the blame, apologize profusely & repeatedly. Try to make up for being ‘bad’ or hurting the other person
• Feel such terror that we blank out & can’t think at all (dissociate), so don’t answer, but only think of something to say when it’s too late & then hate ourselves for being stupid or a wimp
• Feel terror but try to justify our position, thinking: “I know I’m too sensitive, I’d never do what you’re accusing me of, No one else feels this way about me”
• Be defensive – over-explaining (most common ACoA response to criticism, anger, insults….)
❥ That’s not what I meant, it’s just that_____
❥ No, really, I tried to ______
❥ The reason I said that was because____
❥ I couldn’t because _____
❥ Well, you see _____
• Be defensive – throwing it back on the other:
⚡️ Why didn’t you tell me before?
⚡️ You’re just jealous, selfish….
⚡️ Well – YOU did ______ to me
⚡️ You’ve been sitting on this for how long?
⚡️ You’re just confusing the issue
⚡️ You’re not making any sense
NEXT: ACoAs & Anger, #2