Respect shame & anger from abuse, but not use it against myself or others

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C.

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Reminder: In order to honor our group process we ask that only current members post and respond here please.  Thank you.

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STEP SIX

      
I can respect my shame and anger as a consequence of my abuse, but shall try not to turn it against myself or others.

Anger is a natural reaction to child abuse.  Yet survivors have a hard time managing anger.  They veer between lashing out or over-controlling it, not knowing when it is appropriate and when it isn't, not knowing how to express themselves forcefully without overdoing it.  You were no doubt angry as a child, but probably were not able to express the anger safely in your family.  You may still be afraid of your anger because it may have been intricately connected to many of the bad things that hurt you.  But bottling up your anger will also block your recovery because, without ventilation, the anger may turn into aggressive behavior.

Where did that anger from the past go?  Most survivors turn the anger against themselves.  This pattern could possibly be a major reason for your difficulties as an adult. Fighting, criticizing or withdrawing from your friends, lover, spouse or child(ren) are also likely patterns for you, especially if your family was ever violent.  If you are a parent, you need to recognize how your anger may be triggered by your child(ren)'s inadvertently pushing the wrong buttons at the wrong time.  As was true with your parents, it is your responsibility to control your behavior and your anger with respect to your child(ren).

Many survivors do not express their anger overtly.  In addition to turning the anger inwards into anxiety, self-loathing and depression, many survivors develop habits that serve to cover over their anger and dull its impact.  Compulsive eating, drinking, sexual activity and a host of other behaviors serve to blunt the anger as well as the pain, shame and isolation that arise from abuse.  This kind of behavior, often called self-medicating in the case of alcohol or drug use, masks the underlying feelings and promotes a blustery, but often hollow, public image.

If you have to express your anger to better manage it, the best strategy is to externalize it, that is, to get rid of it by discharging it outward.   But do it safely, with maximum control, and direct it where it belongs: at your abusers.  Of course, it is not always possible to do this, nor is it always advisable.  Refer to the discussion in Chapter One about whether to confront your abusers, and talk to the members of your support network about any plans.  These people can help you with ways to access this pent-up anger and turn it away from yourself and towards the proper target in a safe manner.   Practicing how to express your anger and learning how to turn it on and turn it off will not only be therapeutic, but will also give you the skills to use your anger in appropriate ways in the real world.

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VeryFoggy

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I am definitely guilty of being of the self medicating variety.  I drank too much for years and years, close to 30.  I was what my daughter calls a functioning alcoholic. Maybe I still am.  I still drink, but nothing like I used to. When I found wine?  I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.  Those old enough, and in the US, will maybe remember the Calgon take me away commercials?  Wine was Calgon for me, and it took me away from all the pain. I don't drink wine anymore...

I have such a virulent Inner Critic that there was no danger of me ever being late for a meeting, or oversleeping, or calling in sick.  None of that would ever happen. And it never did.  I was on call at home sometimes for work for engineering type problems, and it used to amaze me that sh**faced, I still was better than anybody else, and could fix the problems remotely over my computer, and get things back to normal.  It was kind of scary.

So I did use my anger against myself for many years.  I abused myself in so many ways I can't count them anymore. But one day, I finally woke up. It was a last straw moment. And I finally figured out it wasn't me that was messed up.  It was my dad. Through my haze of alcohol, I realized that all of these years I had been trying to blame me. And I was never going to get the dad I wanted no matter I what I did, no matter how kind or loving I was?  He was never going to love me back. Then I found out shortly after that about Narcissism, and every piece of the puzzle fell into place. And since then?  I have only been going up.  It wasn't me!  I wasn't a horrible person!  I did not have to treat myself this way anymore!

Has it been moonlight and roses?  No, it's been hard, really hard.  But it is SO much better than living in a place where I was always in the wrong, a bad person, who hated herself because she could never be enough, and never be good enough.  Even when he was half way around the world, he was right there in my head, telling me how awful I was.  I don't listen to him much anymore.

And I have bouts now, long peaceful bouts, where there is no criticism, or judging, or disrespect, or hatred.  And no need for anesthesia.  I am loving myself back to life.  And my T says I am weeding.  I am weeding out the people who cannot love me. Who just are incapable.  She says I have good soil.  I hope it is true.  And I am looking forward to my new garden.

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bee

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I refused to see that I had anger for a long time. I went the super control route. Of course according to my M nothing I did was ever good enough, so I couldn't even see that I was holding such tight control. I thought everyone worked as hard as I did. That kind of control takes a ton of energy and now I'm paying the price. Adrenal fatigue.

I self medicated, but no drugs or alcohol, I can't deal with loss of control. I did tons of cardio, yes excecise can be abused. I also struggle with sugar addiction. I'm currently off of it, but when I eat sugar I have no control, it can easily become a main source of calories.

All the anger that was inside me festered. Mostly manifested as depression. Once in awhile it would pop out, then I would be ashamed. I mostly know anger as my M expressed it. Completely out of control, and I wanted to avoid that at all costs. Now I am starting to accept that it is ok for me to be angry. I need a lot of practice though.

The shame. That is a beast. I have had to work so hard to overcome my M instilled belief that I do not deserve the air I breathe. That my existance takes resources from others that I do not deserve. I had shame for wanting to live, but there were also times that I wanted to die, and I had shame for that as well. Shame that all this still affects me, that I haven't got over it, that I have cPTSD, and other health issues.

Intellectually I know not to use it against myself, but emotionally I'm still practicing. I do not shame others, and the anger outburst are much lessened. A good thing, as the only person I ever let see me angry is my H, and he does not need to see that. I do want to get to a place where I can show anger to others when it is justified, and in a constructive way, you know defend myself, but right now that is pie in the sky thinking.

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Kizzie

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I once heard someone in an Adult Children of Alcoholics group I went to in my twenties say she "ate her anger." That would be me.  I was a smoker and when I gave that up, turned to overeating to self-soothe.  When I smoked I could get the anger stuffed back down by going and having a cigarette or two or three - taking a timeout with a reward, that hit of nicotine. Then the reward became a treat, something sweet for my IC for not having a tantrum.  I let her "eat her anger" and have dealt with yo-yo weight issues because of it.  I think each pound I gained and lost over the years represents the struggle I've had with keeping a lid on my IC and her anger rather than dealing with the source, of helping her to express it in a better way. Until recently I was at a loss about how to do so though because that part of me is so young and reacts as a child.  It's been a slow go but we are getting there now that I know about CPTSD.   

Anger was so very dangerous in my FOO, my parents did not tolerate it which made my teen years *.  In my adult years I dealt with any anger with healthy people in a healthy way (yay), but when triggered by a PD person such as my FOO, not so much.  Boom!  Lots of yelling, door slamming and stomping away before I learned to go Medium Chill through OOTF and to disengage as soon as possible.  When I did end up in a shouting match with my FOO, my covert NPDM in particular, afterwards I would end up in a huge EF that would last for days and often longer.  I was simply scared of her anger, the inevitable FOGging I would have to endure until I got back in her good graces, including the smear campaign I knew she would engage in and I could not relax until I knew my punishment was over. And that's what anger always resulted in - punishment, shame, guilt and lots of it.

Letting go of my need to have my NPDM be the mother I wanted and deserved has really helped bring down the anger and fear. It also helps that I am beginning to understand on an emotional level (not quite all the way there yet, but getting there), that her behaviour toward me was more about her personality disorder than me as a person. So she does not trigger me like she used to although I still become quite uneasy when I sense a potential storm coming on.  I also still have difficulty with other PD people I encounter (covert NPDs in particluar), and that I am working on as well.  When I feel myself being triggered I try to go Medium Chill and disengage - takes a lot of practice but I am getting there too. 


 
« Last Edit: April 15, 2015, 06:55:35 PM by Kizzie »

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Annegirl

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I can't talk on this topic, I don't know why everyone can talk about what they have done and how they cope with anger but I'm not allowed to talk about how I'm coping with anger and shame…its not very helpful for me.

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anosognosia

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Annegirl the invitation is to feel empowered to share as little and as much as you want. Your silence on the topic itself is a respectable testament to your journey of healing.

I live with a lot of shame and it's manifested itself into many pathological patterns. I sometimes (once a year or so) binge eat and then throw up.  That's a sensational example.
More regularly though, on a daily basis, I live with the attitude of "I'm wrong, I have to seek redemption", so I start at -50 when everyone starts their day at 0 or above in terms of mood/self image.
It weighs down heavily on me and I have a tendency to withdraw, and only display/express myself in very controlled platforms like social media which I'm addicted to.

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VeryFoggy

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Ano and Annegirl - That is what I am talking about, and asking MaryContrary in another thread to share her secrets on how she taught herself to BELIEVE she was worthy of the same rights as other people. I think that is our problem, we just don't believe we are as good as other people.

Because you are! You are worthy of the same rights as other people.  It's not right or fair to yourself to start the day in hole already owing somebody you haven't even met yet. Or feeling like you have to hurt yourself.

But I think this what we have to teach ourselves.  That we ARE just as good as anybody else. And we ARE just as worthy. But if we have been told too many times that we were unworthy?  We absorb that FALSE message and turn it against ourselves and hurt ourselves.

 I sometimes think it is a matter doing what Pete Walker suggests and telling our Inner Critic to just shut the F up!  Because I do that all the time now, and I think it is helping. When that little ugly monster starts his negative chatter in my head these days?  I tell him to go to H E double L!  And it helps.  So maybe next time you have a thought like that? And that you start out in the hole?  Or want to hurt yourself? Then you fight back with yourself and out loud , you say forcefully, NO!  Shut up!  I am good enough! I will NOT listen to this NONSENSE!

I don't know.  I just know it is helping me to fight back against my Inner Critic.  So I hope you will give it a try.

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C.

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Annegirl, I'm not sure if I understood correctly your comment.  Do you mean that you cannot discuss it here on OOTS b/c of the member guidelines about self-harm?  Is it something you'd like to discuss?  If that's the case do you have other settings where you can discuss the topic?  Like your T or SO or ?  And like what's mentioned here silence can be honored as well as sharing.  So whatever works for you, we all want to honor your needs. 

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Kizzie

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We could always PM.  I am going to revisit the privacy settings again once  I have more time but that will be 3-4 weeks from now. 

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C.

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I am open to PM if that works better to discuss the topic.

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Kizzie

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Hi Anne - I googled self-harm and found quite a few resources.  One that seems to have a lot of resources is http://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/self-injury/self-injury-help-self-mutilation-help-and-support/  including support groups.

Hope it's helpful  :hug:

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Annegirl

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Thank you for your kind words friends and C and Kizzie. This helps immensely.  :hug:
Im sorry I was really angry that day and talking about anger was triggering lol.
Talking about anger actually is helpful.
I appreciate your support so much!  :hug:  :hug:  :hug:

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C.

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I'm so glad that you found some support and awareness.  Pretty ironic about the anger lol   :hug: :hug: :hug: :hug: back to you

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Annegirl

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I know C lol.
There was some stuff going on with my mum and some new developments that look positive now but i was very nervous about the outcome. My T gave me a crossroads question. I will  find a place on here that is relevant to talk about this, i think not on this thread.

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C.

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ok :thumbup: :hug: