The problem with anger : How do I mange my angry feelings?

Its hard to write that heading. I have done so much reading on the subject of anger and frustration and I have learned that for those of us who grew up in certain homes, especially those marked by alcoholism, co-dependency or emotional dysregulation/disconnection the experience of anger can be fraught with terrible feelings of fear. I had a mother who flew off the handle a fair bit and a father who just ignored it. He didn’t set boundaries with her in a firm way, he just laughed at her. There were times I really needed him in my corner. I grew into someone who silently acquiesced while a storm built up inside of me. I also grew into a person who could not vocalise her upset or distress or other feelings. I think then, when a lot of trauma began to hit, after I had been emotionally neglected or fell out of everyone’s mind I began to turn to the bottle for some relief.

Its hard to write that heading. I have done so much reading on the subject of anger and frustration and I have learned that for those of us who grew up in certain homes, especially those marked by alcoholism, co-dependency or emotional dysregulation/disconnection the experience of anger can be fraught with terrible feelings of fear. I had a mother who flew off the handle a fair bit and a father who just ignored it. He didn’t set boundaries with her in a firm way, he just laughed at her. There were times I really needed him in my corner. I grew into someone who silently acquiesced while a storm built up inside of me. I also grew into a person who could not vocalise her upset or distress or other feelings. I think then, when a lot of trauma began to hit, after I had been emotionally neglected or fell out of everyone’s mind I began to turn to the bottle for some relief.

I know in these later years there has been a pile of unexpressed life force and anger that I have sat on. At times is has exploded. In my last relationship the abandonment trauma I suffered was repeated in that I attracted a partner who told me I just had to wear being alone, that I could not hope for his understanding or empathy and that I would be abandoned when the frustration all got too much for me and I lashed out. I remember the long periods where he broke off contact and gave me the silent treatment if I was too angry or sad. I didn’t have the balls to walk away from it. I was very much on my own when I met him back in 2007 and I stuck the pain of that dilemma out for 5 years with him. I must also own my part and say I didn’t allow him to be angry and validate it when he was either. I just did not have the emotional literacy skills at that point.

I was thinking about how I lashed out at Scott yesterday today and seeing that it wasn’t totally unwarranted. I have been giving him financial assistance for some time and we have been facing challenges in terms of money being frozen and then having to go through channels of bureaucracy with the military and its been an enormous challenge in terms of patience and forebearance. At times I feel so frustrated that yet again it seems to be me who has been putting all of the effort to assist him and getting so little back. The money will be repaid when he finally gets free from there but its taking time and its breaking my heart at times, not to mention the fear. Its caused me to fall out with certain family members at times who were firmly convinced he was/is a scammer.

So as I look back I see that my anger yesterday was not unjustified but also what Scott is doing is not being done out of malicious intent, his motivation is care for me and wanting to be together, so why did I feel justified to go after his jugular and make accusations about why his ex wife decided to have an affair while he was on deployment? I then accused him of emotional unavailability when the truth is that when we do connect he is available emotionally and always validates me, he is also very strong and wise and soft and kind. As I look at it all more dispassionately today I see that I am yet again projecting my past experience onto him and that is not fair, but there is a very justified reason for why I felt so angry yesterday the point was I was not able to hold that feeling and work with it in a positive way instead of lashing out. I then turned it into an emotional storm by amping myself up into a bit of a negative frenzy/spiral at least until he connected with me and affirmed my feelings and calmed me down. I than said I was very sorry for what I said about his ex and that it all came out frustration. So there it is I am human and I have failings but they are not earth shattering

I am grateful for the book on dealing with anger I got out of the library yesterday. I am grateful I can begin to recognise some of my projections of the past onto an innocent party. I know anger is not a negative emotion, it often exists us to tell us something is not right in our world or with the way we are being treated. But anger can begin to get out of control and become a problem for those of us who in childhood never saw anger or conflict dealt with in helpful emotionally connected or healthily assertive way.

Anger is the thing that will help us to calmly step up for and support our rights, wishes and needs. But there will also be times we need to put boundaries around our anger and practice a form of self soothing and acceptance over the things we are powerless over and cannot change. This is the essence of how in addiction recovery we learn to manage our lives without the numbing effect of substances. We learn to accept what we cant change, change what we can and learn to discriminate between what is and is not open for change, or resolution.

I noticed yesterday in the bookshop that there is a good book on this subject too, that I am sure many may know about. Its by Sarah Knight and is called Calm the F@#* Down it gives techniques for not magnifying angry and out of control responses through excessive rumination or internal beat ups. Learning to feel safe with anger can take a lot of time for many of us, how well we manage to do this dictates how well or poorly we learn to tolerate and manage conflict. Recently I heard a therapist say that mental health rests primarily on how well we do manage to handle conflict. Not dealing with our anger and need for life and self assertion can lead us to depression, addiction and auto immune diseases. Getting a handle on our anger and self assertion in a healthy ways that honours both our own boundaries as well as those of others is very very important for those of us affected by these challenges coming out of emotionally neglectful or dysregulated families.

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