The slippery Slope & Anger

I wrote a post at the beginning of April about the need to change the bad habit ofthUCIKPC8U excessive ruminating. Initial attempts were reasonably successful for three short weeks, until last Friday when I started to ruminate my way down a slippery slope. Yes, I slipped on my weary ass and it feels like a humiliating defeat.

By the time I arrived at Paul’s therapy room on Thursday, I was sick to the back teeth of hearing my own voice banging on day and night about the same dysfunctional family dynamics. It’s ridiculous how I go to great lengths to keep certain people at a distance, while allowing them to live within a daily stream of endless rumination. What is the point?

I do believe rumination can be a worthwhile part of the healing process, but I need to make space in therapy for analysing my own shit within. The first problem to raise its ugly head is my fiercest enemy, anger.

Even though I need to speak my mind, it’s seldom in anger. This is less to do with being a cool and controlled Cat, and more about feeling terrified of my own anger and the other person’s response.

th8OFY8HOSSomething deep within says that anger is bad and I am bad for feeling or expressing it. Anger might provoke a furious response, or antagonise the threat of aggression and violence. Anger is wrong and can only end in rejection. This is ridiculous, I know, but those are the early ingrained messages. It’s easy to see how depression is anger turned inwards.

When I was in confrontation mode with Dr C at last week’s group therapy, every part of my body trembled while my voice quivered through our tense interaction. I wasn’t necessarily fearful of her response or worried that my anger might spiral out of control, but this tiny winy bit of agitation I had towards Dr C, felt like the last straw to a mountain of anger I’ve supressed over the years.

Anger has always been an extremely self-destructive emotion. Years ago, I would go off on drug and alcohol binges, each one conceived in anger. My reckless lifestyle would titter on the edge of danger until my health finally gave way.

In hindsight, it’s easy to see how that behaviour was less about addiction and more to do with self-destruction. Nevertheless, the anger didn’t go anywhere, but instead it evolved into chronic depression.

I don’t want to focus on my parents or childhood because that would only stir up thethKHLE167Z dreaded rumination and I really do need a break.

If we receive punishment and rejection for feeling angry as children, there is little opportunity to learn how to express this emotion as adults. If those early messages say we are bad, ungrateful and selfish for feeling anger, it’s hardly surprising that we systematically turn our rage inwards.

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41 thoughts on “The slippery Slope & Anger

  1. Priceless Joy

    BINGO. Exactly my problem too. I was raised to believe that if I felt angry then I was bad because anger is a bad emotion. Bad, bad, bad. That anger turned inward and destroyed me through severe depression. I liked how you said you wouldn’t give your relatives time to see you so why give them so much time in your mind. I thought that was brilliant. So true!! Why hadn’t I thought of that? LOL.

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  2. edwinasepisodes

    It is funny how we always get so angry at ourselves, isn’t it? The awful rage that won’t go away, the thoughts swirling around and around. It is so destructive, yet we can’t seem to stop it.

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  3. Anxious Mom

    What a thought provoking post, Cat. I can relate especially on not knowing how to express anger. I love what you said about not giving your relatives time in your mind…if only it were easy!

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  4. mandy

    Dammit, Cat, how could we both write about dysfunctional families on the same day? Are you truly my brother from another mother? At the very least, they were related! Fear of anger–others and our own, I think is very typical of abuse survivors. I’ve had so many people tell me, “you have to let me be angry anger is normal.” They say this because if anyone expresses anger I shrivel up, I hate myself, I had to have caused that anger, therefore I’m bad. Also, I’m afraid of expressing anger–I get off the phone and I begin worrying, did I sound mad, upset, angry? Oh god, they must think I’m the ugliest person alive, a real bitch. And whoever is there with me at the time will tell me, are you kidding, you didn’t sound remotely angry! Fear of rejection for feeling angry must be a normal bugaboo. I hate it too. I haven’t had luck with therapists being able to help me work through it. Did Paul offer any wisdom on the problem?

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    1. Cat Post author

      I thought it was quite a coincidence, Mandy, and not the first time! Feeling worried of upsetting someone or making them angry feature high on the agenda, but I know it comes from feeling too responsible for my parent’s moods. Paul seldom has words of wisdom, he usually just reflects most things back. From time to time, he says certain words that stick. Lol I barely give him time to talk 🙂 Thanks Mandy

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      1. mandy

        lol That sounds like me, Cat. No wonder my therapists just hand me the note pad and put their feet up. Hey- book went in the mail today. 😊

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  5. Em Well

    thank you for writing about anger. Some day I hope to be able to as well. I have spent my whole life thinking anger = violence. And I wonder why I fear anger. Keep writing, we are listening

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    1. Cat Post author

      It’s one of the most difficult emotions, especially if we suffer any kind of abuse in our past. Thank you for listening 🙂 and commenting

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  6. therabbitholez

    Sometimes we let people live rent free in our heads, which is irritating because you can be sure they’re not giving you any thought let alone a second one!

    It’s said to channel your anger into something positive, unfortunately with years of slow boiling anger built up inside, it’s easier said than done, sometimes it can be better to let it spill out, however when that explosion comes it can have a devastating effect as it can be directed at the wrong people/person and can bring guilt which is also hard to recover from.

    If this comes up again with Paul it would be interesting to get his take on it, also your ruminations can be put to better use in terms of aiding your recovery.

    I have heard of scream therapy, don’t know if that would help, but might be a way of getting that build up out of your head.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Yes, the allowing people to live rent free was a simple but huge realisation and I am working on it. I’m not sure about channelling anger. I didn’t need to challenge the trauma for it to start to dissolve. Somehow sitting and observing the feeling seems to pay off, so that’s my plan of action for now. Unfortunately, I barely give Paul room to speak, but maybe I should start asking him more questions… now, there’s a thought. Thank you for your feedback, much appreciated, as always.

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  7. Janie H

    You got that right. I’ve spent years trying to reverse that lesson. Surprisingly (to myself) I think I might have done it. I hope you can too. 🙂

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    1. Cat Post author

      That’s good to hear, Janie, I am quite sure I will succeed eventually. Thank you so much for commenting 🙂

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  8. jamborobyn

    You’re doing great, Cat. I haven’t said much lately because I’ve had a strong sense you were on the verge of making some really useful discoveries for yourself. For some reason I feel proud – proud to have witnessed this tiny part of your journey. You are a wonderful person and the progress you have made since the time of our first interaction is amazing and inspiring. I have total faith in you.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Robyn, so nice to hear from you and with such praise that makes me feel proud. Thank you so much for your encouragement, it’s lovely to hear.

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  9. Ellen

    Maybe your venture in expressing your anger to C was a bit of a breakthrough then, given you never express it in an outward direction? Anger is hard for so many people. For myself, I was trapped in a rage filled marriage. That was both of us screaming at each other, though my ex was ‘better’ at that than me. I can tell you, rage expressed all over someone else is also not ideal. Now, the only person I’d ever express anger with is Ron, but it would never be screaming. I think now, with anger that is present day anger, I want to try and say what I need to, but not scream and vent at the person. There is power in just saying a bit of truth.

    Hope the rumination gets better, and you can express some of that old anger in your therapy sessions. It’s hard being trapped by your mind’s chatter.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Ellen… I guess, like you, I’m not usually an angry shouting person, but have been in relationships where the venom was shameful. I think talking to Dr C was a breakthrough and I am feeling a little more out spoken in general and less paranoid, there’s definitely changes, but we seem to be the last people to recognise our own transformations.
      The rumination is a killer, but I am getting much better. I probably needed to get to the stage of feeling sick of my own voice. Like a bad habit, it creeps in when least expected, but I’ve so far been able to nip it in the bud

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  10. Glynis Jolly

    I wish I could say that I understand fully about what you’re talking about, but the truth is I don’t, not completely. Sure, I’ve done some rounds with rumination, but I get sick of it fast and push myself forward to whatever else I need to consider in my life. For me, it just comes so easily. I know that I’m in the minority though. Although my empathy wanes a bit, my sympathy does go out to those in the majority. All I can suggest, Cat, is to keep on pushing forward.

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    1. Cat Post author

      I probably needed to reach the stage of feeling sick of my own voice inside my head, it has been a long time coming and long may it last. Thank you, Glynis, |I do appreciate your sympathy 🙂

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  11. littlevoicetalks

    Too true. Anger is my nemesis too but unfortunately, it also lives inside me and it’s a battle daily. I know the drugs/drink thing well. It’s a very urgent-right-now emotion and for me to squash it, the drugs/drink was always my solution because it would (and still does) keep me awake for hours in bitter rumination where I can’t even sit.

    Your anger needs to be expressed. I bet if you let it absolutely fly, your worst fears would not be confirmed. In our bitter attempts to squash, we risk death; seriously, I believe it. Anger wont kill you but drink, drugs or in your case chronic depression will (suicidal).

    However, I don’t mean to sound like ‘Preacher Joe’ (guy who was a health care assistant when I went to rehab 2011, who had pretty much ingested the Big Book and spat it out verbatim rather than engage in usual communicative conversation), so I know it is one thing to know something intelligently over viscerally.

    At some point boy, you need to kick off big styleeeee. You must feel like a pressure cooker. You have a right to feel anger and a right to express it when people treat you unfairly. I guess sometimes it’s needed to lay down your boundaries, otherwise people come along and stamp all over them.

    Explore it with Paul and don’t be alarmed if you walk out of a session.

    xx

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    1. Cat Post author

      You don’t sound like preacher Joe 🙂 I appreciate your input. The drink/drugs were definitely destructive, fortunately I have been clean (except cannabis) for over 7 years.

      You’re right, I do need to explore the anger, just like I did the trauma. It was difficult to comprehend trauma dissolving and anger feels very similar..

      Creating and feeling comfortable with boundaries was one of the first lessons in therapy and it kind of happened without realising. There’s still some guilt around, but it lessens with practice. Thank you 🙂

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  12. ziggy40

    I relate to fear of anger. In a therapy group in 2012, someone shared how they at least safely released some of there anger…I followed … He purchased about twenty plates from an opp shop, second hand shop..( about 20 cents each) , wrote individually on each and went with a support worker and smashed them on a cliff. Although he still had things to work on..,it was of great relief. Me to. Best of luck..it’s scary.
    lol love Ziggy

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  13. Susan Irene Fox

    Cat, anger isn’t bad or unhealthy – it’s what we do with it that makes us sick. I repressed anger for years while watching my rage-a-holic dad blow off steam unpredictably. Walked on eggshells my entire childhood. The anger was finally diagnosed as chronic depression in my late twenties. Well, where else was it to go but inward? I admit, I’m still uncomfortable around people who express anger loudly and uncontrollably, and I have to walk away. Now, I am able to simply state, “You know, I’m angry about that.” But it takes a lot to get me angry – I feel more disappointment than anger.

    I think Ziggy’s second-hand plate idea is a terrific one. I’m convinced if we don’t let it out in some productive way, we’ll all end up looking like the person in Edvard Munch’s The Scream. :-0

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    1. Cat Post author

      I couldn’t agree with you more, Susan. I’m not sure I’d ever be comfortable around anger blowing off and neither would I like to be like that. Thank you for your input, Susan. How are you?

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  14. sensuousamberville

    It is hard to establish boundaries in your mind. To stop thinking of what was, how it was out of your control but yet you can’t stop visiting it. This frustration bringing on anger, and will again and again, just like rumination.

    To stop ruminating will take practice, there are a few methods Cat. One driving the thoughts out, replacing them with total concentration on something of your choosing. Another is to face them, concentrate on them completely, finish them. Write them down in detail. Sometimes this will convince your mind that you are finished with them now.

    Analyze the thoughts, rationalize them. Release your anger, scream into a pillow. Don’t let it build.

    easy huh?

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    1. Cat Post author

      I think I reached a point of saturation with the rumination and I’ve been very firm with myself since. Of course, I catch myself ruminating regularly, but I feel more progress this time than ever before. It has been a particularly trying week due to a text saying mum and sister are in London at the weekend… talk about putting my non-ruminating policy to the test 🙂

      Outside I use the awareness of surroundings technique and indoors I use a firm NO! I’m so P’d off with it, but that can only be a good thing for consistency

      Thanks Amber

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  15. manyofus1980

    Its definitely not surprising that we have a mixed up warped sense of what anger should be, or if whether its ok to express it, if we were taught from early on that it wasnt. Xx

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