A Just Anger : Freeing our fight response

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It is fantastic to witness many female trauma survivors recently taking a loud stance against invalidation abuse.  For those of us who have suffered trauma and most especially women there appears to be a powerful prohibition against the expression of righteous anger and pain which is so necessary especially for those of us who have suffered due to being overwhelmed by a larger adult or bigger person’s power.

In this situation the likely response is that the individual goes into some kind of freeze state.  Sadness can also come to dominate a person’s emotional life, they may have been allowed to be sad but not really angry about what happened to them.  And in the end for people subjected to this kind of abuse righteous anger needs to be expressed so that the frozen individual can release their vital energy from its fundamental blockage and get free of the overpowering feelings of depression and often suicidal pain which results when the true feelings are never allowed to be expressed, released or fully addressed.

I thought that I would just share here in a small blog something I read this afternoon about this subject.  It involves some regression work being undertaken with a client of John Lee outlined in his book on age regression who suffered molestation at a young age.  Lee’s work with the client, Susanna involved getting her to liberate her buried fight response :

Before Susanna began discharging some of her pent up feelings, the fight response simply was not a choice for her.  Her uncle took away her choice to fight.  But now she is retrieving a part of herself that is rightfully hers.

When Susanna first consciously regressed back to that time with her uncle and started pushing out her anger… she began crying.  I said “Let the tears come, but not at the expense of your anger.”  As I said in my book on anger, Facing the Fire, many women were allowed to cry as children, but they were not supported when they expressed their anger.  For that reason, when grown women feel angry, they let the water of their tears douse the fire of their anger.  Many women have told me that the reason they cry is that they are sad that expressing anger was not an option – and still does not seem to be.

Only when a woman – or a man – feels safe can they begin to feel anger.  As Marge Piercy says in her poem, “A Just Anger,”  “A good anger acted upon is beautiful as lightning and swift with power.”

Amen, to that I say, Amen!!!

8 thoughts on “A Just Anger : Freeing our fight response

  1. What an insightful post my dear friend. I am definetely one of those people who cried over my anger…Tears came easier but anger was always tough..I was always too afraid to let my anger out, especially with my father..I managed to finally release my anger on the phone to my father before we went no contact..This is because I had my husband by my side and felt safe to do so..Not being allowed to feel anger as a child is very destructive..xx

    1. It is the most destructive thing, Athina. I do believe it is also behind a lot of auto immune diseases as this is the bodies fight response against invaders in the cell tissue its a powerful metaphor for when we don’t fight against the abuse and psychic invasion that occurs for us in childhood. I am so glad you were finally able to express your anger to your father. There is still deep sadness there, though that this kind of self assertion is often disabled or disallowed.

  2. This is a powerful revelation for me. I can see how just one time when I expressed my anger in adulthood, it definitely seemed to have helped, and I can see how others I know who fell down the rabbit hole never got past the sadness to the point of anger expression, and paid dearly for it. Thank you so much for sharing. You may have reshaped my mind here.

    1. I have been one of those people, myself, Sue. Crying when I was really angry, getting scapegoated and sidelined for expressing anger in a family where that just isn’t ‘nice’. My own Mum repressed her own anger about her childhood and that has had consequences for me and all of my siblings in different ways. I wish we were taught in school its okay to be angry and find healthy ways to express it. One of the faults of my Catholic education was it disabled the fight response too. Thus we end up as a suffering Jesus with our being lanced by a suffering and abuse we cannot fight off. Thanks for your comments.

      1. I’m a Catholic school-educated person, too, and as a adult find myself touching on that topic from time to time when I write. This “noble quiet suffering” stuff can kill a person inside.

        Thanks for replying. Looking forward to future posts from your blog.

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