OF COURSE I’M ANGRY –
everyone disappoints me!
PREVIOUS: ACoAs & Anger
IMPORTANT: If you haven’t already, please read the above articles to acquaint yourself with the basics of co-dependence (Co-Dep), so you can put the issue of anger in perspective (Continuum CHART)
Co-Ds (ACoAs & Addicts) are fundamentally ruled by buried shame, & have had to cut ourselves off from our inner world. We rarely know how we actually feel – under all the spinning & drama. The truth is that we don’t want to know, because it’s painful & we never learned how to develop an inner soother for such occasions. It’s ‘easier’ to stay on the surface & pretend things are just fine, rather than deal with what’s really going on inside – which is emotional starvation.
We’re very busy taking care of others but barely provide for ourselves. While it seems that we’re only focusing on others, Co-Ds actually spend a great deal of time obsessing – on ourselves!: what we don’t have, what we wish we had, what we did wrong, what others are doing TO us, what we/they should be doing….. Having to maintain the Co-D facade is exhausting, but it started so early in life, so we think it’s the real us. Sadly, the performance gives us no satisfaction or relief because it feeds on & is maintained by S-H, anxiety & perfectionism. (Shame & Co-Dep)
1. Re. OUR Anger – We generally think of Co-Ds as being weak, dependent victims. This is how a large portion of us act, even tho we’re really not that weak, having survived many horrors, but not very well. The rest will express it as intense counter-dependence, even to the point of being deprivational (need-less & want-less), along with arrogance & grandiosity, our damage spilling out over everyone/thing.
Many Co-Ds are not aware of our anger, so are often surprised when others react with annoyance to the ways we express it (a tone of voice, teasing, unprovoked irritation…..) because we ‘didn’t mean it like that’ – consciously. Dr Irene, on her “Verbal Abuse” site, notes that: Co-Ds misplace our anger – we get angry when we shouldn’t, & don’t get angry when we should. (MORE….. great site)
a. MISSING EMOTIONS
Numb: Co-Ds are so used to abuse, insensitivity & disrespect, that in many cases we don’t consciously feel the hurt that’s inflicted on us by unhealthy people. But the Inner Child does register every single punch, stab, slap…. delivered by them – so we’re not only swallowing the venom of those encounters, but we are adding to the already tremendous reservoir of pain we’ve been carrying since childhood. Like mercury & lead poisoning, we’re letting ourselves continue to be toxified!
NOTE: Fear of our own anger is called Angrophobia (not very original!)
Disconnected: And then there are the times we FEEL something – the punch in the gut or the stab in the heart, BUT don’t know where it came from. Our body’s legitimate reaction to abuse is disconnected from our cognitive center (cortex) because of years of denial. So —
— we blame ourselves for the pain, thinking that we’re making it up, over-reacting / too sensitive, it’s hormonal….
— and if we do make a vague association between our discomfort & a particular person, we justify & excuse it by thinking “they didn’t mean anything by it, it’s just the way they are, she/he DOES love me….”
It’s as if we’re wearing one of those animal medical collars: we can see over the top, but can’t see the knife in other person’s hand as they shove it in!
However, if we were to stop & ask the Inner Child how it feels – & he/she is willing to respond – we find out exactly what’s going on!
• Emotional numbness comes at the very bottom of the Feeling Continuum (but before death 😦 ), because the pain is SOOO great that we’ve had to cut everything off, so it represents the most painful level of feeling. Co-Ds who are still in denial will often say they had a happy or OK childhood. The way we can tell it was NOT is by listening how they talk about themselves – blaming themselves for not getting what they wanted & needed growing up. ‘Emotional Body’ chart
WHEN denial starts wearing off, we’re shocked – first by the pain, & then realizing that all this time our thinking has been way off! That’s liberating but also very scary, seeing how we’ve built much of our world on sand. We have to revamp our whole world view, & this can leave us with a lot of anger, realizing how great the abuse really was. For a long time we may hate our parents, the rage coming in waves. We still want them to be what they can’t & never could be. Eventually we can accept that we no longer need them to take care of us – we are our own parent NOW, so we can learn to deal with them realistically – whatever that means for each of us.
BOOK: “Coping w/ Codependency” ~ Kay Marie Porterfield
NEXT: Anger & Co-D (Part 2)