PREVIOUS: Anger Categories (Part 3)
3. OTHER Anger-EXPRESSIONS (cont)
It is natural to feel anger towards the person/people who caused our childhood trauma, but that anger can be complicated by the feeling of ambivalence
– IF the person/people responsible for the abuse also did good things for us.
Such ambivalence can be very painful & confusing, leaving us in conflict. We can feel anger, hurt, frustration…. AND gratitude, love, longing, missing them….
OR – we can white-wash them, excusing the perpetrator/s by telling ourselves they didn’t know any better, they didn’t mean it, they were under great stress….
This confusion & denial will make it harder to feel the legitimate anger we have about the neglect & mistreatment, so we end up emotionally numb (a type of dissociative state)
OR – presently are living with someone you care about & want to stay with, but you find ‘difficult’ because of their damage – which also happens to trigger your buttons. Can you love & hate someone at the same time? Should you be angry or grateful (to be with them) ?
a. One meaning is when someone make a habit of trying to deny feeling anger all together – having experienced the awful results of aggression growing up, &/ or because of religious prohibition (anger=sin). They’re afraid of their own & that of others. On the surface their communication is: “I’m fine. It’s fine. Everything’s fine.” Even when there’s a raging volcano in their gut, all that shows is a happy face, with nary a flicker of irritation. This is not passive-aggression – this is buried aggression.
• Since anger is a natural human emotions & everyone feels it from time to time, the more someone suppresses it, the more it builds up, until it consumes them – often in the form of an Immune Deficiency or other illness. Long-term internalized anger damages self-esteem because it results in feeling too weak to assert our needs, which can lead to being scapegoated, depression, paranoia, debilitating worry….
b. A second meaning is about distancing ourselves from the person who makes us feel angry – giving a phony smile, not talking to them, never looking them in the face, staying away from them altogether….
Giving others the cold shoulder or silent treatment can be:
√ sidestepping confrontation, from not knowing how to proceed
√ a passive form of punishment for their offense – supposed or real
√ a way to protect the other person from an outburst of our rage – which we’ll be sorry for later
• However, by not saying what bothers us as soon as possible (assertive anger), the option of working it thru is eliminated, since the person / group have no way of knowing they’ve caused an upset. Their ignorance makes it more likely the ‘offender(s)’ will continue to be a source of aggravation. Of course, this applies to situations where there is at least the possibility of an improvement, but this can only happen if we at least make one attempt to communicate our upset
➼ In general, with both a & b styles, a chronic Avoider cannot escape accumulating a backlog of anger, which will at some point either explode or turn into ongoing depression &/or illness
c. POSITIVE use : a third meaning is about ‘letting go’ of trying to connect with Co-dependents, Passive-aggressives or other Narcissists who can’t communicate directly & honestly.
EXP: We’ve tried 2 or 3x to ask the person or group for some satisfaction (‘Please stop ____, Can we _____?, Would you be willing to_____?”) BUT
— there is no discussion or change, OR
— there’s a promise of change but never any follow-thru.
Then avoidance is our only option – rather than staying & staying – with the false hope that eventually we’ll get our needs met!
Obviously, there are PPT that are best avoided altogether since there’s no way to have a resolution or for the offender to change their ways.
NEXT: Anger Categories (Part 5)