The Anger Games

Tiger Growling

I’ve written about my anger before. In fact my anger fuels a lot of my posts. I have a lifetime supply of suppressed anger within me. Since I was first able to feel the emotion, it has been denied expression. This denial of expression caused more anger. More anger equals more inner resources channeled towards suppressing that anger. Which explains why I have always suffered from intense exhaustion. Suppressing anger takes a lot out of a person, so much so that they have very little energy left for anything else. Anhedonia ensues. Depression. No energy to charge up joie de vivre.

My parents were very angry people. But they were allowed to express that anger all the time. They did it whenever they felt like it, without concern for anyone else. However they were always very concerned about themselves, and they did not like it when other people expressed their anger, especially when it was in response to something my parents had done. They did not appreciate the consequences of their actions, and were always trying to deflect those consequences, and the blame for their actions, elsewhere. It was always Poor Them versus Meanie Others. They found that playing the victim worked a treat when it came to manipulating others. It’s very hard for others to lay blame upon or be angry with a victim. I was one of those others. I was not allowed to be angry. They ridiculed it – you’re so cute when you’re angry – seemingly affectionate, yet oozing with dismissive contempt. I was not even allowed to have an angry expression on my face. Apparently the wind was going to fix it so that I would be permanently disfigured, and others would flee from me in terror. They did not care whether my anger was justified or not. It bothered them and they didn’t want it in their lives. So I had to be forever happy. I was constantly told that I had a beautiful smile, but only as an order that it should be used. Interestingly enough, I ruined that smile by chipping a huge chunk out of my front tooth in an accident. I was angrily castigated for doing that, what had been perfect was now marred and needed to be hidden. Yet for me, doing that brought a sense of relief. I didn’t have to smile anymore.

The other day I was searching the internet trying to find some basic information about the purpose of anger. Most of what I found were articles and websites giving people advice on how to control their anger. Anger is bad, it must be denied expression. This pissed me off. More repression and suppression. And we wonder why people snap and explode. There is nothing sudden about it, it took a long time to build, and it eventually could no longer be contained. Like a volcano. We’re very harsh on people who snap and explode because we are all suppressing anger, and we feel that since we’ve managed to contain ours, others should do so too. To maintain our civilised society we must all make sacrifices, and natural urges are the first things to go. Unacceptable emotions must be eradicated, acceptable emotions must be exaggerated until we are all happy smiley people.

Finally I found a chart which gave the uses of our emotions, the reasons they exist, their purpose in our lives, why we have them, and what happens when those emotions are denied their natural expression. Anger’s purpose is to give us a shot of power when we are under attack, to fuel our strength, and allow us to stand our ground and stand up for ourselves. To protect our territory when a trespasser ignores the Private Property – No Trespassing sign. Expressing that anger allows us to ward off the attack and warn the attacker not to continue with what they are doing to us because we can defend ourselves. If we stop our anger from serving its purpose, and deny it expression, then our attacker thinks they can continue to attack us, they might even conclude that we like what they are doing, and so the cause of our anger doesn’t go away. We get even angrier, because we are putting up with something we do not want to put up with, we are angry at ourselves for allowing ourselves to be a victim, and every time the attacker attacks the pressure inside of us builds because the anger has nowhere to go.

If we deny anger its natural place in our lives, then we don’t express it when it is roused, which blocks its flow, dams it, and the anger begins to collect within us, creating inner pressure. We have to maintain the dam, be vigilant for cracks, for weaknesses in the structure. But this is a full time job, one which we are doing on our own, no shifts, no rest, and at some point we are going to fail, a moment of exhaustion, of distraction, and the dam will burst. Since we have been collecting years and years of anger, the destructive force of the dam breaking and thousands of gallons worth of anger gushing out all at once will be devastating. Had we just expressed the first drop, then the drop after that… expressed the anger when it was aroused, allowed it to fulfil its purpose, it would have dissipated, and we would be able to move on.

Last night I realised a truth about my anger, and it has opened my eyes to a lie which I have been living for a very long time. I have been telling myself that I am a noble hero for suppressing my anger and directing it only towards myself. Because I have so much anger due to never being allowed to express it, because I grew to fear what would happen if I ever expressed even the smallest amount of it towards another person, however justified, because I saw how harmful anger expressed can be having been at the receiving end of my parents’ outbursts many times over, because I only learned about the negative side of anger expressed, I created a story for myself, a legend to live by. I became a wounded hero who must at all costs protect others from the raging inferno inside, better to destroy myself than to even mildly hurt another. Even if they deserved it because they were hurting me. I knew they were hurting me because they were hurting. So, I couldn’t hurt someone who was already hurt. Other people were fragile, too delicate to handle anything unpleasant, especially not the power of my anger.

Wow! I know I’m a bullshit artist, but I didn’t realise quite how talented I was, this is some of my finest work!

Whenever I get angry my modus operandi has been to distance myself from other humans. Like a bomb disposal expert, I alone must defuse the dangerous explosive device, and everyone else must stay away for their own safety until my work is done. If I die in the line of duty, then my work still gets done. If I survive, then I can return to the inhabited world and give everyone the good news that they are all safe, and smiley face is back.

This legend has spawned spin-offs. Such as, that I am willing and able to absorb the emotional explosions of others fearlessly, and that I can often defuse others before they explode. And this pisses me off even more because I attract those who need a person into which they can dump their emotional baggage, get a reassurance ticket, then leave to go and enjoy their baggage free holiday, until the next time. I can’t get pissed off at them, because I created this hell for myself, so it’s all my fault, and they get a free pass to behave as they please. If I ever lash out because they want to dump, and I have no space for their dumpage, then I end up being labeled a baddie meanie and they cry and cry until they are sick and that’s my fault. I have to make amends. This causes me to get angrier. And the whole cycle just keeps going and going longer than the energiser bunny. If I could turn this anger into actual power, real fuel, I think I may just be able to solve the sustainable eco-friendly energy crisis.

Whew! Long post. The upshot of my realisation about my anger is that… I’m mad as hell and I need to express this constructively. Creatively. Positively. Naturally. Time to reprogram myself. Time to use all this fuel to power a dream, and win… even if it is just not to use all my energy resources up trying to contain one of my energy resources. Hope this makes sense to you, it does to me… finally!

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11 thoughts on “The Anger Games

  1. Ursula said: Anger’s purpose is to give us a shot of power when we are under attack, to fuel our strength, and allow us to stand our ground and stand up for ourselves. To protect our territory when a trespasser ignores the Private Property – No Trespassing sign. Expressing that anger allows us to ward off the attack and warn the attacker not to continue with what they are doing to us because we can defend ourselves.

    This is awesome! In my FOO, the angry one was sometimes violent, always scary, and he was the only one allowed to be outwardly angry. I definitely learned to suppress anger. I love your article! And I’m glad you’re learning to work with your anger and encouraging others to do the same.

    Recently, a spiritual advisor gave me a Hawaiian ritual (Kala Rite) to transform anger energy. He advised me not to try to get rid of the energy, because I’ve already lost enough energy in the abusive relationship. I found the ritual on-line, and adapted it to my own sensibilities and performed it with much intention. I was amazed after performing a ritual involving breath, a glass of water, candles and symbols of transformation, that my thoughts and feelings about anger changed radically. This is the important part: I realized that the anger energy is very loving self-protective energy. I was suddenly a mama bear protecting her cubs. It wasn’t merely an intellectual realization, it was a deep change in awareness and taking ownership of the power to protect myself. I’m no Xena Princess Warrior, but I’ve been more comforable with my anger since then. That’s a good thing. I need to channel that energy towards constructively rebuilding myself and my life, as well as avoiding scavengers who see a wounded animal and think, “easy prey.”

    Thank you. Raven 🙂

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    1. Thank you for sharing 🙂

      What a wonderful story and experience!

      We are multi-faceted beings, and therefore everything within us has multiple facets, purposes, meanings and uses. As we grow and evolve our perception does too. Things like anger can be destructive, but is the destruction bad or good or something else? Is it part of the regenerative fire of the phoenix? Anger can also be constructive and creative.

      I was reading an article recently – http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/promoting-empathy-your-teen/201407/when-parents-blame-their-children – which for me captured some of the paradoxes which challenge our perception of right and wrong, good and bad, fair and unfair, and so on. I really loved the ideas held within it because it touched upon my own journey through life, especially the one connected with understanding anger. I watched my parents express their anger all over the place, with more consequences to their advantage than disadvantage, while I was not allowed to express any anger at all, and the few times I did, I was punished in some manner. I was expected to put up with, accept, validate, etc, their right to be angry, but I did not have the same rights nor was my anger allowed to exist because it upset them and others. It was similar to your experience with your FOO.

      We have to find our own way, which seems to be a long and complicated journey, but eventually we get there, and when we do… the transformation within transforms what is outside too. It’s a release of years of pent up energy!

      Our energy is there for us, but sometimes we block it. When we unblock it… wow!

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      1. Thank you for your reply, Ursula.

        I’m just seeing it now. For some reason, I’m not being notified of your responses by email and as I am focused on rebuilding my life, I forget to check here.

        My abusive N ex-BF was very angry and he took that anger out on me. I’m realizing that in the beginning, before he turned on me, I was attracted to that anger just as I was attracted to his arrogance and other “unacceptable” parts of myself. Shadow parts. It’s funny… during puberty, I was able to express a fair amount of anger by throwing, slamming and breaking things, and cursing a blue streak in my journal. LOL At this point in time, I am in reverse puberty, as I like to call it. A friend calls menses “truth serum” because the holds come off and true expression of feelings can’t be resisted. Powerful stuff. (I apologize to any male readers. Perhaps there are male equivalents I know nothing about.) Rather than being a problem to be fixed, reverse puberty can be a truly powerful time of self-knowledge! Learning where my boundaries are. I did NOT get to do that boundary work under the influence of my parents! Time to unblock that energy! I was attracted to the abusive ex’s anger. Time to embrace my own. The difference is that I do have a conscience and remorse. I want the anger to be a positive force instead of using it to destroy others I am pretending to love.

        Thanks for posting the link to the article. It does my heart good seeing someone working with people at that time of life. If, when I was a tween, I had had someone to talk to who could honor my attempts to grow into an autonomous human being… I really enjoy your blog. I always find something that resonates deeply.

        Thank you! Raven 🙂

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        1. Thank you very much 🙂

          I love your approach and what you’re doing, it’s very innovative, self-reflective and that’s how we discover, understand and gain insight into ourselves. Trusting our own path and walking it our way. That’s personal power!

          It’s true that we are often attracted to the parts of us in others which we’ve not integrated into ourselves in some way. Sometimes those parts are something which we admire because they are lighter aspects, and at other times it is the darker aspects which draw us in. Maybe because someone else is expressing the shadow side, which we keep hidden, freely and we want to learn how to free our own shadow. If we’re aware of this contract of sorts, then we actively participate in learning from the other person – and they may be doing the same with us.

          It’s important not to forget the quid pro quo of relationships. Things tend to flow both ways.

          There are also times when we seek someone out to become our ‘spokesperson’ for a repressed or disassociated emotion or feeling. Some people need others to get angry for them, and when they are angry rather than express that themselves they will poke, prod and push the other person to do it. This dynamic falls into the role-playing we often do in relationships and can take various forms. It can be in a scenario where someone (the victim/damsel in distress) has been offended or hurt by someone else (the villain), rather than deal with the incident and the offending person directly, they seek out another person (the hero) to deal with it and the offender for them, and they do this by inciting the ‘hero’ against the ‘villain’. Certain Narcs like that particular game a lot.

          I think many of us don’t work through the energies and issues which are stirred up during puberty, there is usually too much all at once, being a teenager is overwhelming to all of our senses, and the environment is often not supportive – partly because what overwhelms us also overwhelms others through us. So we leave many loose ends which follow us into adulthood – many behaviours in adults seem to fit teenagers better than adults. And adult environments, such as the office, often are reflective of teenage environments, such as high school. Doing a reverse puberty sounds like an excellent idea, a way of tying up loose ends which may be holding you back and holding your energy in check, stuck in time, in a frozen moment of the past, and it’s also a way to review the things which you went through and the ways you and others dealt with them. Retrospective review can be very enlightening. The detachment helps to process what was overwhelming and confusing at the time.

          I feel really excited for you… I think your excitement, your vital energy zings across the internet waves, and comes across in your words. Now that is also powerful stuff! 😀

          The idea of calling the menses ‘truth serum’ is brilliant! Kudos to your friend!

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  2. Thank you, your analysis concerns me as well. i think as a child I cried a lot and said no, objecting to what my parents were planning for me, but something went wrong in my teens as i decided unconsciously to be compliant in order to avoid their tantrums and criticism;as you do know, it didn’t work. i have always been melancholic or depressed, or it has been labelled so, but instead it was due to my exhaustion and my feeling warped by them. i have never been able to express my anger;since I started my therapy with this shrink, i have been able to express my anger at the swimming pool when people kick me, can you imagine at what miserable level of reactivity I am?? then, I dared expressed my anger with my father, and since then no contact-here it goes in my family, when you contrast them, you are ostracized.
    Exhausted, this is the word, thank you. And my non existent boundaries. I will meditate.
    The picture of the big striped cat is wonderful, and it’scurious you picked it for this post on anger:it’s my totem animal and i can’t get angry against others, only against myself.Maybe i love so much this sublime animal as i admire its power when angry.
    And i forgot to write in oyur today post that i love your picture of the open door onto the garden, it’s lovely.

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    1. Thank you 🙂

      “Tigers, except when wounded or when man-eaters, are on the whole very good-tempered…Occassionally a tiger will object to too close an approach to its cubs or to a kill that it is guarding. The objection invariably takes the form of growling, and if this does not prove effective it is followed by short rushes accompanied by terrifying roars. If these warnings are disregarded, the blame for any injury inflicted rests entirely with the intruder.” – Jim Corbett

      I used the image of the tiger because of the concept expressed in the quote above. I’ve always loved tigers, they have a solitary dignity. They are very powerful, yet use their power wisely.

      Anger is an energy which feels very powerful, it can be used wisely once understood, once harnessed.

      Why can you only get angry against yourself and not against others? You are angry about the way others have treated you, so what stops you from expressing that anger towards them?

      Is it because you feel it is safe for you to express your anger towards yourself, but it is not safe for you to do it with others? If yes, then why is it not safe to express your anger to others? Is it because you can’t control how they will react? Is it because you are certain how they will react and want to protect yourself from their reaction? Is it because you’re afraid that once you express your anger, the accumulated anger within you will gush out and you won’t be able to control it?

      Those are all questions which I asked myself when dealing with how to work with my own anger. By getting to know my anger, I learned to understand it better, which enabled me to express it and channel it more constructively. I work with it all the time. It’s a relationship, a partnership. Like with all emotions and the energies which we have within.

      I would say that what happened when you expressed your anger towards your father was a good result. It may not seem that way because a part of you is seeking to get something from him which he will never give you as he may not be able to do so because it is not in his character, and even if he could give it, he won’t because he knows you want it and as long as you do he has control over you.

      Don’t be so hard on your teenage self, she made a decision which suited the time and situation, she made the best decision she could to survive there and then. Nothing went wrong, things changed, being a teenager is a huge change in a child’s life, it is a threshold between child and adult, it is fraught with challenges and difficulties. Be compassionate to your past selves, they did the best they could. Don’t judge them because of how you see your life now, learn to look at your life now differently and it will change the appearance of the past. Let the past inspire the present, because the present is where you have the power to make changes.

      And that’s what you’re doing, be kind to yourself, support what you are doing 🙂

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      1. Ursula loves going to the core of things, it’s like playing darts:).yes, i love tigers because they are strong and inspire respect just looking at them, a solitary dignity, as you say.
        Dignity.
        I have been robbed of that, as when I got angry my family told me I was a lunatic and manipulated the reasons why I got berserk in order to prove I was wrong, gaslighting and denial were the two major tools of torture. I do feel anger, but I am unable to express it towards others as I think unconsciously I am afraid of appearing in need of a straight jacket. i used to have incredible outbursts when my family accused me of something which wasn’t true. It has been devastating indeed. my anger is very ineffective as i am very high pitched and then i can’t breathe properly and i have a longlife memory of being wrong. Although now i am fully conscious of that, it’s hard to be able to manage.
        yes, I do feel i have no dignity and i am terrified of being considered for what i am not, as my parents didn’t want to know my own person. Since i was born, I should have been different. I lost the game. And there was nothing to control, as in my family they were right and I was always wrong, bred in the bone. That’s why when i feel attacked, i just walk out, out of the room, out of the relationship, I feel punished and i am seldom given the chance to defend myself and then i say to myself, if I were different i wouldn’t be in such a painful entanglement;that’s precisely how I feel aftermy ex N friend shrink gave me the silent treatment. i feeel undlovable after my former N therapist played with me and i should be angry with him, and nope, there are times i hate myself for what happened, i feel faulty flawed for this, as though i was the culprit. this happens to me recurrently, something bad happens, I feel it’s my fault.
        i am angry about my teen age choice of compliance as now i am getting old and this ruined my life.
        Sorry today it’s not a good day. But it’s Spring and a friend invited me to the countryside and although I am broke, I embrace this cherry (and take the cat black panther to be neutered as here in the 7th it costs twice).

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        1. Never apologise for being yourself and expressing who you are, it’s beautiful… and yes, Ursula is a pain in the culo 😉 She does exactly the same merda to me!

          Unleash the tiger here, this is a good place for it and you will not be judged for it or punished or any of those things… you may even be encouraged to do it!

          And you do have great dignity, you just have another name for it!

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  3. Good for you, it sounds like you hit the nail on the head. The extreme exhaustion – I had that and I wondered why…never occurred to me that it was because I was repressing so much rage – great observation and thanks .

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    1. Thank you very much! It’s taken me a long time to realise stuff which now seems obvious, for instance how easy it is for me to lie to myself, I feel a bit silly and stupid, but the relief is worth it. Still open to new info. I share just in case it may be something someone else can relate too. So thank you for your comment, it means a lot to me. ❤ Ursula

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