one way or another, I’m gonna get ‘im
PREVIOUS: ACTIONS – Fearful
REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
3. ACTIONS (cont)
b. ANGRY reactions to painful events
• Sulking – ‘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 because:
• 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 intensity – that we will do some real long-term damage, either physical or emotional, if we let loose
• it’s not appropriate right then (in public, at work…)
• we’re afraid of being abandoned 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, and 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 that her (unexpressed) angry feelings were radiating with such intensity. It also made her see that she needed to leave that job, which she eventually was able to do.
• Teasing – always a way to express one’s anger – but indirectly. It’s a way to ‘get back at’ someone by using a personal trait against them, like their name, size, religion or ethnicity. Because it’s couched in humor, it’s generally considered ‘good fun’, socially acceptable & harmless, therefore allowed & encouraged in many settings. It can be ‘hazing’ for a new student or employee. But we know from incidents in school yards & other venues – teasing is toxic! Is makes someone a scapegoat, & leaves permanent emotional scars if continually repeated
• Malicious Gossip – 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 one’s peers. However, when ACoAs are in a rage at someone (X), they want to harm the other person & make them look bad, in the same way they feel harmed, by:
— telling secrets they know about (X)
— making up false info to damage (X)‘s rep
— seducing others away from (X) – by shifting people’s allegiance
— making themselves look like a victim, martyr, the ‘white hat’
• Making Fun Of, making JOKES at someone’s expense (practical jokes)… While gossip & teasing is indirect, this is a more direct way to show our anger at someone (Y). Sometimes we believe our meanness has been earned by (Y), while other times it’s just a displacement of our rage at some else – like a boss, parent or mate
EXP: 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 a while, 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.
✓ As much as Tina ‘adored’ Mel Gibson when he was young, even naming one of her cats after him, she never ignored the fact that he was an ACoA & an alcoholic who had the need to constantly pull unpleasant, obnoxious pranks on his co-stars. Now everyone has seen & heard his rage full-blown!
• Attack / Revenge (sue, fight, yell…)
This is the most obvious & direct reaction. The need to be violent – verbally, physically or legally – is used some ACoAs as a way of venting their old pain on the world. Or it may be that we have tried every other avenue to resolve a problem, but to no avail. Then the only recourse left is to go after our tormentor in some way
➼ ALL of our rage, & the resulting dysfunctional ‘acting out’ is our hurt WIC’s response to decades of abuse & abandonment. We are not crazy, only wounded.
➼ Continuing to be angry, now, comes from still wanting to be loved & accepted by people who can not and will never be able to give us those things!
✶ Remember: When we over-react emotionally to a particular event it does not mean all our recovery is invalidated. Nip any S-H in the bud! “Progress, NOT Perfection”
NEXT: ‘Responding Positively to Events’