Tag Archives: Anger

A Daunting Prospect

guiltyI was only just writing in my last post about the significant improvement in mood and then I woke two days later, with a severe dose of the blues.

While I’m struggling to understand the therapeutic process – or fully believe in the healing – positive changes are undoubtedly underway. The sudden turnaround in mood wasn’t immediately obvious until I reread my therapy journal from the night before. The words were bold and clear, adorned with question marks, “My attempted murder.”

When Wednesday came along, I really didn’t want to go to my session with Paul. I wasn’t consciously avoiding any connection with the memories of my attack, but I did feel suffocating apathy. I know from experience that something very powerful takes place whenever we choose to a sit with the feelings in therapy, even if they are only resentments for being there.

Paul sensed my unease, “It looks as though you’re finding it difficult to be here today.”

This took me by surprise. He’s one of the most passive Therapists I’ve ever met and not usually forthright with his own observations. We talked for a while about trivialities and then I eventually told him about my journal entry and the change of mood.

“It’s the only issue I haven’t yet focussed on in therapy, but I don’t know how to even begin talking about such a traumatic event. I can easily run through the details, but they always feel more like describing a movie, completely absent of any personal connection. I’ve never even thought about the impact it had on my life, never mind the feelings.”

“This reminds me of the issue you had during the initial months of therapy when you were experiencing dissociation from feeling anything in the moment.”

“I know this is a form of dissociation but awareness does not seem to help, it only adds to the frustration. Whenever I go in search of the feelings, there is only an empty space… nothing. If there are no emotions, what is there to talk about?”

“Do you feel anything right now?”

With great relief, I noticed the clock was approaching the end of our time, “The only thing I feel right now is intense fear, as though a black hole is opening at my feet… and I am slowly backtracking.”

Two days later, it was time for the weekly group therapy and once again, I desperately didn’t want to go. I can see how this was purely avoidance, but my mind was playing tricks at the time. I scrambled to find every possible reason not to go, even sabotaging the journey to keep me late.

I shared with the group how confusing it felt not to be able to talk about the feelings. One of the other members said something so simple that I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it myself.

“Sometimes it’s easier to identify the feelings, but quite another to feel them.”

That statement’s so true. I can identify the terror and helplessness, the fear and anger, the violation and intense hurt, or I can tell you about how it was the final straw to a lifetime of violence and injustice. The missing ingredient, crucial to healing, is the ability to feel any one of those emotions.

At the start of therapy, I had this general plan of the things I needed to talk about and, morebottling importantly, the emotions I should feel. I couldn’t bear to think about certain childhood memories and the thought of willingly analysing them in therapy was a daunting prospect, but I knew exactly what to expect.

The experience of almost losing my life to a psychotic murderer feels entirely different. Even though I lived with the aftermath all these years, the depth of emotion is completely new territory and any thought of digging up the trauma is terrifying. But, I will be disappointed if I reach the end of this therapy programme in January without a reasonable attempt to connect with the feelings.

Group Therapy Dynamics, the effects of narcissism

The update on our hot-headed beer delivery driver from my last post concludes that he will not be representing the company again, oh shit! This news tinges any satisfaction with regret. I’ve always felt responsible for other people’s feelings and their misfortunes, which raises one of the biggest challenges I’m about to face in group therapy tomorrow…urgh.

I was the only member to show face at last Friday’s group session. I understand why some of the others find commitment a challenge, but their absence can affect everyone else’s therapy. It was a rather odd experience, although I was equally pleased to speak to the two group Therapists alone.

While I am careful what I write about group, I do feel it’s acceptable to discuss an issue from the perspective of how it affects my own therapy.

I perceive one of the group members as extremely vulnerable and I’m always fearful ofth74HYDPIJ tipping him over the edge into deeper depression or suicidal feelings. Since the beginning of this programme, he has irritated me on a number of occasions by talking for large amounts of time during the session. It doesn’t seem to matter who is talking, everything will eventually revolve back to his plight and he will think nothing of interrupting with similar tales of woe.

While I was talking to the Therapists on Friday, I realised this group member represents my own mother. Everything had to revolve back to her and I bore the brunt of those temperamental moods, while accepting blame for many misfortunes too. If I had the audacity to speak my mind or show any kind of negative emotion, it would ultimately lead to disapproval with some form of rejection thrown in for good measure.

Whenever this group member talks incessantly, I seem to experience a weird fear response and rather than exert my own contribution, I withdraw and start to shut down. The adrenaline soars through my veins in seconds and it feels as though I am trembling from head to toe. My heart pounds so hard against my chest, I will come close to losing my voice completely.

I’ve only ever experienced this kind of response in the group. I can be as mouthy as the next person can, but I go to great lengths to project a calm and confident persona and this ‘fear response’ blows my cover completely, which feels humiliating.

The last session I attended with this “talkative” group member, I started to lose patience. I was so terrified of imposing on his vulnerabilities, I quickly became overwhelmed with fear of stepping on his toes. When someone noticed I was quiet, the only words I could squeeze from my voice box were, “I can’t contribute… it wouldn’t be very nice.”

Apparently, my fellow-groupy is very upset because my response suggests I am annoyed with him and his topic of discussion. Of course, I only perceive his response as ‘poor me’, which almost expects some kind of explanation at our next session. Once again, everything needs to revolve back to him.

Children of narcissistic parents grow up believing in their own selfishness. We quickly learn that the parent’s needs and feelings come first. If the child shows anything resembling a free will, the narcissist will tarnish the ‘ungrateful little brat’ as rude and ungrateful. Punishments can easily escalate from verbal abuse through to physical assault, or the silent treatment might hang in the air for days. Both responses carry the ultimate message of disapproval and rejection if we dare speak out against them.

thCRZ1VW5DGroup therapy represents our mini world and that includes certain family dynamics, which is why it can be such an uncomfortable and painful experience. It’s one thing to identify the cause and effects of a problem, but overcoming the most challenging aspects often depend on action. No one is asking me to confront these fears by speaking out, although the very nature of therapy invites us to act upon whatever pulls on our conscience the most.

I need to face my fear of rejection whenever I am unwilling to please another person. I have no other choice but to tell this man how I feel at tomorrow’s group, but I am not looking forward to it. This is something I need to do for myself. After all, this is my therapy too.

Mediocre Therapy

Following my last post Stuck in Therapy & Resistance,” this week’s individual session and the group were rather neutral in comparison. My intention was to try to connect to supressed feelings, but it didn’t quite go to plan.

It all started Wednesday when I arrived home for lunch prior to my session with Paul and found an inconsiderate moron parked in my bay. I parked on the adjacent road, a wide-open space with plenty of room for vehicles to pass… that’s until the beer delivery truck arrived at the pub opposite and abandoned his lorry adjacent to my car.

It wasn’t long before passing cars were struggling to ease between my legally parkedthJE8SJ9RN car and the illegally parked lorry and a few curse words were hanging in the air. I was rushing to dress while watching from the window and as soon as the men finished offloading the beer, the driver calmly placed a note on my windscreen. My heart sank, imaging all sorts of damage to my pride and joy.

I got outside just as the lorry was leaving the street and curiously lifted the note from my windscreen and this is what it said,

“Great place to park, you cunt!

the next time I see your shit car I will smash you up.”

“Shit car?” cheeky git, it only has 3,000 miles on the clock. I would love to see what kind of wreck he drives. When I got over the initial man-insult, I saw red.

I detest people who place abusive notes on cars; their cowardly deeds never leave a reply address or a phone number. He had no idea who owned that vehicle. How would an older person feel to see such an aggressive and abusive note? I was furious, but had to put it on the backburner until after my session with Paul.

Oddly enough, when I was with Paul, it didn’t cross my mind to talk about what had just happened, even though I was sizzling underneath. I couldn’t work out whether the incident was distracting, or if it was Paul.

I was trying to tell him about the anniversary of my attack last Sunday, which wrote about here. I am in the process of finding a way of retelling the story that might help connect to the feelings, but this is no easy task.

I would say a few sentences and then fall silent, choosing my words carefully while searching for emotion. I have never wished for silence in therapy so much in my life, but Paul kept talking and talking and bloody talking at every opportunity.

th773T42SQMy biggest dread at the start of therapy was the silence and Paul was always mindful of this. His “reflections” are always about me, but repeating everything I say and continually checking out his interpretation is starting to grate on my nerves. I left the session feeling irritated with Paul and still reeling from the abusive note on my car.

The donut made a few mistakes that day (not Paul, the delivery driver) If he didn’t consider someone might be watching, he failed to notice there were workers erecting and testing CCTV just above my car.

While his handwriting and punctuation were impressive, it must have eluded his intelligence that he was actually writing the criminally offensive note on the back end of an official document from his company and the telephone number of Head Quarters is included for my benefit.

The last mistake he made is picking on someone who is sick of bullies assuming they can intimidate the rest of us into submission. I’ve had enough of saying it is okay, when clearly it’s not.

What would you do?

And now I’ve ran out of time to write about Friday’s group session, which was a rather bizarre end to the week.

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.

Snotty Cow

Dr C has never held a conversation with me since she joined the therapy group threethWO80MS6L months ago. I’ve tried to engage with the coldness several times, but it’s difficult to connect with a Therapist who appears distant and downright friggin rude at times.

If I’m trying to interact with someone, but there’s a distance in the dynamics, the experience can transport me back to childhood where I regress within that same sense of exclusion I felt as a child. This has taken me years to understand and I want to stand up against it rather than sink into one of those detached silent episodes.

I already talked about this in the group last week, including how I feel about this odd character, Dr C, but it evidently made little difference. Just because she triggers something from my narcissistic upbringing, doesn’t mean to say she’s not being a snotty cow.

thZCS0JRE4Yes, Cat was sharpening his claws on Friday and that little bit of agitation can feel like the last straw to a mountain of supressed anger from the past. My focus was on Dr C, but she was still looking downwards, even after I started to speak.

Me: “When we enter this therapy room on a Friday, our Therapist, Frankie, welcomes everyone with a smile while you, Dr C, sit there with your head almost between your knees, I often wonder if you’re actually sucking your toes down there.” I have her attention now.

Frankie: Her small stature shifts uncomfortably in the seat. “Yes, but remember we talked about what this represents for you, Cat… the distance, your parents…and how that causes you to retreat.”

Dr C: Mumbles beneath a large hand, now covering half her face, only the eyes are visible and she’s beginning to creep me out. Her English is perfect, but it sounds like she has a sweaty sock stuffed in her mouth. “Yez, go von,” she says in a very neutral-I-don’t-care-tone, which only riles me further.

Me: “The distance I sometimes feel in this room may well remind me of my parents, but your face is still on the floor and it’s rude. I try to feel some sort of connection, but I only seem to hit a frosty front and it’s difficult to find trust in there.”

Dr C: Says nothing, her eyes in a Therapist squint, searching for a deeper meaning within me, but I am adamant that she needs to own part of this.

A couple of other group members shared similar experiences, so it was a relief to realise this is not just my perception. While they talked, I was fighting to compose the misplaced anger.

Me: “When I shared during check-in this morning, you didn’t look at me once, it’s not the first time, and I feel you must have some sort of problem with me…”

I wasn’t looking for their feedback, just as well because I didn’t get any. Nothing could change what I said… actions speak louder than words. Dr C was a little vague, “Maybe you have a point.”

I assumed she meant I had a point about her being a snotty cow, but later that night IthCQGLNBGY wondered if she was actually saying, “You’re right, I have a problem with you.”

The most important thing for me is that I was honest and my self-esteem is no longer at risk of suffocating in silence. Who cares what the snotty cow thinks.

The Court trial & the martyr

As regular readers already know, years ago I was the victim of a completely unprovoked attempted murder by an evil character who is your movie-style psycho killer.

I asked my parents not to attend the High Court trial in an effort to save them from hearing personal details of my life echo around a courtroom disparagingly. There was a vulnerable need to protect myself against mother’s judgemental mentality and those familiar speeches of martyrdom.

I could only envisage my parent’s shame as their son’s life became public before a Jury and a busy public gallery. My assailants defence team were preparing to tear my testimony to shreds with accusations of the most despicable kind. There were only two of us in that room that night, no witnesses, just my word against his.

A High Court trial Jury in the UK are never aware of a Defendant’s criminal convictions until after a Judge passes a verdict of guilty, so for the duration of our humiliating trial, my character came under cruel and degrading scrutiny.

My assailant’s academic intelligence arrogantly tried to justify my extensive injuries and blundered through a ridiculous explanation of why I would jump through a first floor window in a dangerous bid to escape, if I was the attacker. The Jury were there to make a judgement.

The Defendant’s respectable middle class parents sat quietly in the courtroom in support of their precious son, while I couldn’t trust my mother to provide that same unconditional support, not without it being regurgitated sometime in the future with that familiar statement of, “Oh, what a terrible time I’m having.”

On the day of the verdict, I couldn’t go anywhere near the Courthouse. A bizarre and rather shocking twist to this story is that only a couple of years previously, my assailant had actually been sent to prison for life, for the first murder he ever committed.

Two years into his life sentence, he took his appeal to the Supreme Court and the Judges ruled that the Jury in the first murder trial were prejudiced into finding him guilty. Even though he admitted to the murder, those idiotic Judges, in all their glory and wisdom, overturned his guilty verdict and set him free. He had walked free once, this trial could swing either way.

Waiting at home alone for the verdict, I have never felt so nervous in my entire life, the sort where you just cannot get off the toilet, while watching the second hand sweep away the minutes. When the phone eventually did ring, it was the martyr, my mother.

Mum: Well Cat, That’s it finished… (She has that familiar patronising voice, the one that stinks of ‘woe is me’). Now listen, son, I hope we can put this behind us now because me and yer Dad ‘are done’, this is taking its toll on everyone, you know.

Silence

Mum: Hello? Are ye there?

Me: Well? Have they reached a verdict yet? Have you heard?

Mum: Eh?… Oh… Aye, they got him for it… he’s found guilty. Now listen, son, I really hope we can start to move on with our lives. Your only young, you’ll get over it.

Stunned silence

Me: Um…well, ‘Leaving it all behind’ might not be so straightforward for the victim.

Mum: I know that you’re the victim, son, (my tummy turns queasy whenever she uses ‘son’ in that emotionally blackmailing way) but listen, we’ve all been through a hard time over this, we’re all victims, it’s not all about you, you know.”

That telephone call is the beginning of where we are today. There is little point in trying to speak up against such narcissistic thinking and my silence has pushed her further and further away, but the anger, the guilt, and all the things I should have said, but couldn’t, are fuel to the chronic rumination today and this is one of the things I will be working on in therapy over the coming weeks.

My Mother the martyr

She, the martyr,  likes to be the pillar of the community and the centre of attention at her church, but behind closed doors mum is a very different character, overbearing, moody and rude, and everything – and I mean everything – revolves back to her. “Oh what a terrible time I’m having with all this worry,” is a statement we grew up hearing much too often.

I find her to be a very toxic person and for the last twenty years, I’ve managed to maintain a healthy distance, which in my opinion is never far enough. These days, we only text every 6-8weeks, but her lack of interest in anything other than herself can feel very damaging, even after all these years.

The last time I made the mistake of sharing something significant was when I suffered a slipped disc. One day, mum asked what was wrong and I duly told her the basic facts, but she never did reply to that text. I didn’t hear from her again for almost four months.

She text me the other day and this really shows her character in all its glory.

Mum: Hi Cat, how are you

Me: I’m fine, thanks, how are you?

Mum: It’s been a busy week with services at church and all the bible meetings and I made soup for the Sunday lunch club and all the ladies said how lovely it was. I can’t do it every week, but I’m always there to give them a good laugh and boost morale. But, we’re okay. Plodding on (She means her and Dad. I wonder if she ever notices we haven’t actually spoken a word in over sixteen years).

Me: That sounds nice

Mum: They want me to be Secretary for the Women’s Guild because it’s never the same when I’m not there to organise things. I said I would think about it, but I’m not sure I am up to it, I like to support them all I can, but you know how I’ve never “been able” (she means after losing a lung sixty years ago and barely a week goes by without some reference to it).

Me: How’s Auntie Barbara (who’s severely disabled since birth but still lives independently at 86yrs old and never complains)

Mum: B is ok. I finally went to the Doctors with my niggling complaints (actually, she’s never away from the Doctor’s). The Doctor is getting onto the hospital about them, but it could be thyroid problems. The main problem is I’ve sweated all through winter (she also sweated her way through an early and late finishing menopause and we never heard the end of that either and we suffered the full force of her depression).

Me: Do you take codeine for pain? (Codeine makes me sweat)

Mum: No I don’t like taking too many tablets, I’m already on 10 a day. No one knows pain like I do, I have a high tolerance for pain, but it’s just my back and my arthritis and my right foot gives me terrible bother but the Doctor gave me cream to rub on. The last Doctor gave me painkillers but I don’t use them. I’m not one for complaining, me and yer Dad just soldier on as best we can. So R u ok then? (She has revelled in her martyrdom since my earliest memories).

Now, I do not know what possessed me to respond with my next text. Maybe there is still an urge deep within me to reach out to my mother and… well, receive a mother-kind-of-response.

Me: I need to go for a colonoscopy next week because I seem to be losing a lot of weight too quickly.

As soon as I pressed the ‘send’ button, I regretted it and waited for the cold cutting response. I can never be certain if I’ll get an answer at all, so it was a long ten minutes. Maybe there is a hidden need for her to find it within herself to show as much love and compassion to her children as she puts on show for her churchy friends.

Mum: I know the feeling

End of conversation.