SITE: “Co-dependence Behavior”
1. Re. OUR Anger (cont):
Dr Irene, on her “Verbal Abuse” site, notes that: Co-Ds misplace our anger – we don’t get angry when we should & get angry when we shouldn’t.
a. Missing anger
b. INAPPROPRIATE anger/rage
Self-Hate: As co-dependents (Co-Ds) we are brutally critical of our own imperfections, even when they are absolutely normal for being human — whether making a mistake, not knowing something or making an error in judgment.
We also rage at ourselves any time we don’t get a need met or feel hurt – taking on the responsibility for other people’s limitations & unhealthy behavior. At the same time – we sabotage opportunities for getting those very needs met – to stay loyal to our early training. (“People should treat me better, but….”)
• Repressed: In Claudia Black’s book “Deceived”, she places Co-D anger on a continuum:
Anger avoidance Sideways anger Rage.
The far left version is sometimes described as feeling dazed & defeated, often part of low-grade chronic depression. For many people (most often women), avoidance is a learned response to stress, over time, acquired in childhood, along with long-term painful/abusive adult relationships.
• Boiled frog syndrome: If placed into a pot of boiling water, a frog will immediately jump to safety rather than burn to death. However, if the frog is placed in a pot filled with room-temperature water, & then very slowly brought to a boil, it will happily do the backstroke until it’s cooked from the inside out.
Co-D anger can be like that as well. In a volatile situation we may fight back or just leave. But if we let our emotions accumulate in the POT, we end up stewing in our own juices until it feels like we’re choking. Then the anger (& all the pain underneath) bursts outward in harmful ways, or inward with silence, uncontrollable crying, anxiety, constant fidgeting…..
• On the other hand, sudden flashes of unexpected anger at others can be a sure sign of co-dependency at its tipping point – in reaction to:
— someone not reading our mind – about what we need or want (so we don’t have to ask)
— being constantly disappointed, but still depending on someone to come thru for us – against all evidence
— not being able to get thru to someone, no matter how often we try
— always considering what someone else needs & they never reciprocate
— trying very hard to please someone who will never be pleased, but we keep trying
— trying to force someone to be or do something they either don’t want to do, or simply are not able
— hearing a correction or suggestion as criticism. triggering S-H
— wanting someone to take care of us, but won’t
• As adults, people-pleasing for too long without getting our own needs met is draining & enraging. BTW – anger at any of the above list (add you own) may not show for a long time, but may be burning us up inside – until it boils over. But even when Co-D anger is released, it’s only an escape valve. Without FoO Recovery, it doesn’t solve the underlying issues, so we end up filling the POT again.
• In adversarial relationships, if we react with anger against an abuser, no matter how well deserved, things can escalate, often getting much worse, leaving us feeling even more frightened, guilty & helpless. If we keep trying to change a problem by expressing anger over & over (to restore our sense of control) but the bad situation isn’t fixable, eventually we may become depressed & apathetic. And no matter what healthy, kind people tell us to contrary – we end up concluding that “it’s always been my fault & always will be / nothing good ever comes of trying / I’ll never get it right / I always mess us…. so why bother, if I’m just going to get disappointed or battered anyway?”
Unfortunately, the stronger these negative false assumptions are (T), the harder it is to get out & find a safer environment (A). It leads many of us to avoid anger all together, but also to stay trapped & hopeless.
NEXT: Anger & Co-D – part 3