PREVIOUS: Anger Triggers (Part 3)
SITEs: “8 reasons why we’re afraid of anger” (scroll down)
QUOTE: “If you’re not pissing someone off, you probably aren’t doing anything important” ~ Oliver Emberton (Excellent serious cartoons)
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, to get the love & safety every kid craves. But no matter how hard we tried, we never succeeded in assuaging the beast, nor feeling truly safe.
— AND we can’t escape taking on their anger, as well as what we built up in response to being neglected & abused. So our emotion POT is stuffed to the gills, making us so terrified of our anger – lest it spill out & attack or kill someone! So we do our best to bury it & then sprinkle with the pretty flowers of fake niceness. Even so… it leaks out!
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 the adults we were stuck with.
No matter what personality we’re born with, all children need stability growing up, to have a reliable base from with to experiment, learn & risk as they explore themselves & all the newness of the world. SO –
living in chaos is terrifying. Terror always creates anger & if the scary, painful, unfair, crazy-making circumstances go on for years, the anger will eventually turn into rage. Living in chaos is always harmful to children, regardless of our family’s intention. (CHART)
Re. US – ACoAs BELIEVE THAT:
— all anger is bad / dangerous & only leads to violent behavior
— being angry at anyone means we’re bad
— our anger can kill others, even if we don’t express it – just by feeling it, & therefore 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, attacked (“How dare you —! Don’t talk to your—- like that!”), cold-shouldered….. so we shut as much of it off as we could (& stuffed more hurt into the POT.
Re. OTHERS – Our anger PROTECTS us IF WE:
— are angry all or most of the time (keeps people away)
— are angry first to preempt assumed anger
— retaliate with personal attacks
— play the victim to make others feel guilty
— tell others how awful this person is (who was angry at us)
— say someone can get angry & then punish them when they do
— cut them out of our life completely
— are SO good they’ll never find anything to angry about (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:
• 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 nice – to make up for being ‘bad’ or hurting the other person
• Completely ignore both the anger & the issues, & change the subject
• Feel such terror that we blank out & can’t think at all, so don’t answer, but think of something to say when it’s too late & hate ourselves for being a stupid or a wimp
• Feel terror but try to justify our position
— 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 – by over-explaining (the most common ACoA response to criticism, anger, insults….)
— That’s not what I meant, it’s just that —–
— The reason I said that was because —–
— I couldn’t because —–
— Well, you see —–
— No, really, I tried —–
• 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
— So you’ve been sitting on this for how long?
— You’re just confusing the issue
— you’re not making any sense
NEXT: Anger & Co-dependence