For First Time Visitors

If you are a first time visitor to this blog, I invite you to start from the beginning, especially if you are unfamiliar with the potential emotional impact of long-term child abuse.

Trigger caution to unhealed survivors!

Understanding the Incomprehensible

Children of incest or long-term sexual abuse grow up to be wounded adults with complicated emotional issues. Unfortunately, some symptoms are misinterpreted or often dismissed as "crazy", only serving to maintain a tormented victim status. We, as a society, have the power to change this dynamic. Each of us can make a difference.

Oct 2, 2008

Handling the anger, rage, and depression

An important lesson I learned in my pre-memory therapy was depression can be anger inside out. I was depressed but didn't feel angry. I didn't realize I didn't know anger except as a really scary explosion. So I tended not to allow it out (which really just made it worse). For me, an explosion was screaming and crying and possibly tossing some object I later regretted. Likely most, if not all, female survivors, fear their anger. We learn it's not okay to fight or be angry. We're supposed to be submissive and obey. Male survivors may be taught to be aggressive but may just as easily be taught to be submissive and compliant. There are so many dynamics of abuse and gender of abuser(s). What happens in the person's conscious life could go either way. The "real" person may be a very gentle and caring soul. Remembering does not change that basic nature.

Safe anger is expressing verbally with "I" statements instead of blaming words. I feel angry because... No destruction of property unless planned as part of the safe anger release. No hurting anyone. Punching pillows is always a good suggestion. I personally needed more than that. Getting a punching bag is great for feeling a good sense of resistance and it wears you out faster. Whatever you choose to do will be right for you. Just make it safe. If you've never done this before and are in therapy, it's a good place to plan what you would like to do. Some anger work can be done in the therapist's office.

It's not uncommon for survivors to be so fearful of working with any alter holding rage. The fear is that rage will take over and somehow the survivor will be lost and/or harm will be done to others. While it may not be true for all, I worked with several survivors who were extremely fearful of their rage/anger parts. When "anger" or "rage" comes out to speak to the therapist, that's an excellent sign of wanting to heal. Typically the anger parts don't like their jobs. At the very least, when anger establishes a dialog with the therapist, the part is usually surprised by the welcome and an invitation to return. I've witnessed some amazing healing scenarios of anger within another's system. Those horrid fears of the host did not come to fruition.

Often anger is lonely and sad because the others fear him or her. Acceptance and being heard go a long way. This can also be facilitated by the therapist. Anger/rage is a response to having been hurt. Anger is a protector. Huge energy goes with that part. If that can be viewed as a ball of healing energy temporarily trapped, maybe anger won't seem so powerful. Anger does need a positive safe outlet though.

It's not unusual for expressing anger to peak and turn into a really good cry. Often there is a fear that if a survivor cries, it won't stop. It may feel like a long time, but that is a huge release of tension and anger and hurt that your body needs. Thank anger after the exercise. You may find littles connected to the big scary anger which helps to embrace that part as well. Possibly this won't happen until each survivor, in healing, makes that depression/anger connection.

For people reading who are not survivors, years of abuse at the hands of one or more abusers cannot help but create overwhelming emotions and a painful healing journey.


Anonymous said...

Just to say that im a male survivor and i wasnt taught to be aggressive against women, in fact quite the opposite. Because my mum abused me ive spent most of my life being controlled by women, and manipulated by them.
In a sense ive sub-conciously seeked out abusive women, and believe me theres alot of them about.
Also alot of men wouldnt admit to being abused by a women, hence you dont hear of it often, its a masculine thing - something i had to drop to heal.
I believe women are just as capable of these disgusting acts as men. Maybe men are more capable because of there physical structure.
I can only speak for myself, but i can honestly say ive never been aggressive against a women in my life. Ive always been in victim mode, rather than what i guess is the flip-side - taking it out on others.

Grace said...

Thank you for sharing. Males abused by women can definitely have the opposite impact as well. And you cited what we believe to be the case in the statistics. Men are less likely to report abuse or seek help because of "the masculine thing". I worked with several males who were victims of female abuse (a babysitter in two cases, nuns in another). All were gentle souls who had been very wounded. I witnessed amazing healing in two of the men. And, yes, women can be extremely cruel and disgusting too.

Kath08 said...

I found this Anger post very on topic to me.
I have been trying to deperately integrate one part for so long and finally a breakthrough came. I asked for me to come out at the therapist office. My therapist of course thought I was off and something had me down. My part was communicating to me by contracting my leg muscles while the therapist was asking me questions. My therapist is skillful enough to tell me I looked fearful and angry. So i took that home and dug down through fear and anger and than words started pouring out of my subconcious. All the awful abusive words I ever heard. Than huge rage came, such anger, on the brink of doing severe harm to my parents. I raged for so long than cried. I have not had any major dissociations since. YAY! One mild one yesterday triggered by my abusive x.
I wrote a long angry email to vent to my therapist who was not very happy I was raging. I got upset at him telling him that I still hate myself and need to get it out.
OH BOY! I wish he could undderstand DID!!
Thanks so much Grace! I am ever so much closer now to being better and getting this trapped part on board here.

Grace said...

Wow, good work! Especially noticing your leg "talking to you". Yay for anger and rage and sad working together with you too. Whew, huh?

Anonymous said...

Where to begin?? My whole life people have said I was "different". What is so amazing to me now is how much my life mirrors your posts and some of the comments on your site!! Although it is somewhat comforting to know I am far from being alone in this "different-ness", I would much rather have found my niche in life FAR AWAY from the yukkiness (not nearly a strong enough word) of my past.

Depression has been conjoined to me since childhood. I learned in infancy (10 months old) that crying was taboo. Emotions were smothered in the hope that if I could be "good enough," or do everything "perfectly" I could survive. Failing that, I strove to be "invisible". Of course, that didn't keep me safe either.

Typically, numbness keeps me disconnected and somewhat functioning.

Relationships are a mystery to me. I have no idea how to connect with myself, much less others; and, if someone seems to want to get close to me, I either run away or want to act like a she-bear whose cub is in danger...or both.

Anger and rage scare me to pieces!! Other people's. I don't dare let myself go there.

I happened upon your site quite by accident (or so it seemed). My clinical diagnosis is PTSD-- finally!! First it was depression, then Borderline Personality Disorder, and now PTSD. I have a very scary feeling that I may have "others" inside. OMG!! Seeing it in writing is terrifying me!!!

WHEW!! Never mind.

Do you have a glossary on your site somewhere?? I'm wondering what "littles" are.

Sorry this is so long--I have no clue why I'm rambling on so much; I never leave comments.


Grace said...

I know validation is the pits. There are other blogs that are great resources. I refer to three on this blog on the right. All are healing and sharing their wisdom and struggling. I don't have a glossary but am happy to answer your question. I do try to define words the first time I use them. You can use the Search This Blog space above on the left.

Littles are young alters. Baby to preteen. Teen or adolescent alters. And the Bigs are adults. At least that seems to be the lingo survivors tend to use for themselves, once they know they have others inside.

Read gently, please, ok? Self care. Start at the beginning because it goes in an order to build up to complete understanding. Or at least that's the goal.