inability to feel anger

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whitecat

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inability to feel anger
« on: October 19, 2014, 08:48:37 PM »
My mother never allowed any of her children to show emotions.  Consequently, I went through life never crying or getting angry.  I was a total people pleaser, always watching others to see how I should act.  Even now I cannot cry though I've gone through the looking glass and realized what was done to me. 

I feel that if I could just get angry I could probably get in touch with my feelings.  I have tried beating pillows, screaming into a pillow, hitting things....it is very hard and scary for me to do that and it has not worked.  Does anyone have any advise about releasing anger? 

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Rain

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Re: inability to feel anger
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2014, 09:06:20 PM »
Oh, how I hear you, whitecat.    Amazing how similar so many of our lives were in childhood.    :hug:

« Last Edit: January 07, 2015, 12:11:24 PM by Rain »

Re: inability to feel anger
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2014, 09:23:38 PM »
I got more in touch with my anger recently, via advice I found in a text dealing with CEN (childhood emotional neglect). It talked about how CEN makes us unable to feel anything. The advice they gave was to start a "feelings diary" - to jot down three times a day how you're feeling at that moment. I tried it out. At first, it was really hard. I used to sit there, pen in hand, listening into myself for any kind of feeling. Over time, things became easier.

Maybe that would be helpful? Rather than trying to evoke an anger you're not (yet) feeling, you'd just try to connect to the feelings you do feel. Me, I connected to lots of worry first of all. Worry's easy. The other things grew in time. The mere act of listening carefully into myself helped me to become more aware of my feelings, more connected to them, and better able to tell them apart.

One thing I learned: once you DO connect to strong feelings (fear, anger, grief,...), it's a good idea to plan for some extra time so you can safely express those feelings and/or soothe yourself and/or walk off your excess adrenaline.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2014, 09:25:10 PM by schrödinger's cat »

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whitecat

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Re: inability to feel anger
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2014, 02:24:45 AM »
Hi Rain and S cat and thanks for your replies.

I was hitting the bed yesterday with a cardboard tube and it was like my body was angry but I just couldn't feel it, you know?  I was hyperventilating and afterward I realized I had worn away some of the skin on my hands from gripping the cardboard so hard.  So....jeez I am not sure WHAT THE * I'm trying to say. 

Since my PTSD the only emotion I can say for sure I am having is anxiety.   When I say "what am I feeling" most of the time the answer is "frozen". 

Re: inability to feel anger
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2014, 06:35:58 AM »
Are you in therapy right now? If you are, maybe your therapist has advice? I'm asking because you say you're totally frozen, and unable to feel anything other than anxiety. And I've got the impression that sometimes, our psyche does this as a kind of self-protective measure. If the feelings that would come up are just too scary and overwhelming, and if we wouldn't yet be able to "digest" them and work through them, then things get pushed into denial. We go numb. And once we're feeling safe, everything comes back out.

What would you say? How are you doing? Are you safe enough, do you have enough stability in your life? Are your needs filled (physical needs, but also spiritual ones, or the need to have friends, the need to do something creative, the need to have your voice heard, the need to do work that makes a difference,...)? Do you have enough resources (=things that give you joy and energy and make you feel ready to tackle the world, or readier in any case)? How are your energy levels - if your anger or grief or fear emerged right now, would you be able to metabolize it, or would it bowl you over and knock you into a depression or something? Is there something in your life that's constantly sapping you of energy (like unemployment, financial troubles, difficult neighbours...)? You don't have to answer here of course. It just was something that occurred to me - that in my case, my feelings defrost and start emerging once I feel deep inside that yes, it's okay, I can afford to be knocked over by old trauma, I'll have ways of dealing with it. And maybe that's true for some other people, too. From what I read, it seems to be.

And in that case, maybe your therapist would know more?

If your goal (in wanting to feel anger) is to move out of your frozen state, then one thing you could do is to read up on dissociation and see if something helps? Here's something written by the therapist Pete Walker: http://www.pete-walker.com/fourFs_TraumaTypologyComplexPTSD.htm (scroll down to the section on the Freeze Response). There are books on the subject too, but I've only yet skimmed one of them, "The Haunted Self: Structural Dissociation and the Treatment of Chronic Traumatization". It's written by experts for experts, but the language is fairly easy to understand. There are recommendations and solutions, yes, but not in a step-by-step how-to-guide kind of way. Maybe someone else has more recommendations?

I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for you. Being numb and detached is the absolute pits.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2014, 06:41:34 AM by schrödinger's cat »

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spryte

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Re: inability to feel anger
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2014, 12:30:52 PM »
Cat, I love what you wrote. All of those things are really important and I hadn't considered any of that before. I get so impatient with myself to just...feel this stuff, and get it over with already!

whitecat - I'm so with you on this. Anger was not a safe emotion for me to feel as a child at all. It might set my mom off and result in getting hit - but, in a wider context I think subconsciously I just decided that it was better to internalize it because what was the use? There was no way out. I think at some point, it was just easier for me to decide (with her prompting of course) that there was something wrong with me. Then, when I finally DID get to move out of her house, into my fathers, any time I tried to stand up for myself with him I was metaphorically smacked down with "Don't talk back to me!"

Anger wasn't safe for me to feel, and it wasn't safe for me to be around people who were angry - so I have lots of issues with both sides of the coin. Feeling my own anger, as well as dealing with panic reactions when I get around other angry people.

I think that Cat has some really great points. For me too though, my anger didn't really start coming in until just recently and I think there were a few things that triggered the actual FEELING. I don't know if it will be helpful to you, as it seems like your body is accessing the anger just fine, lol.

I just got tired of all of it. I had a moment where the ridiculousness of the emotional reaction that I was having over something so minor was enough for me to just...get angry. Prior to that, I'd started having these "F&ck you!" thoughts about my mom. I was just...so tired of all this hard work, feeling really resentful about all of it, and this mantra started in my head. "F&ck you! F&ck this!" Pretty strong words in my head to kind of encompass all of my frustration with all of that. Eventually, it did start to feel like anger. I remember the day that I was having that dumb reaction to the minor thing, I drove over to my boyfriends house and asked for a pipe to go beat on his punching bag with.

It felt ridiculous, but I felt better afterwards. I may actually have the opposite problem from you, which is having a harder time showing anger than actually feeling it. I got really really good at stuffing it. Sounds like you got too good too.

No great advice, just a general "me too!" I do think it will come in its own time, when you're ready.

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keepfighting

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Re: inability to feel anger
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2014, 05:08:55 PM »
Hi, whitecat,

so very recognizable - I'm not in touch with my emotions, either. 'Good' or 'bad' emotions - I walk right past them when I have to identify them in myself though I have less trouble recognizing them in others (....like I was trained to do...).

Why do you want to feel 'anger' specifically? Is there a reason for that?

Have you considered that 'anger' is just one of the four basic emotions (Anger - Fear - Happiness - Sadness) and that it comes in different shapes and sizes?
Maybe you've been feeling anger all along and just didn't recognize it because you were looking for 'red hot rage' when 'disdain', 'irritation', 'disgust', 'agitation', 'resentment' etc are also sub-emotions of the 'anger' category?

My mother never allowed any of her children to show emotions.  Consequently, I went through life never crying or getting angry.  I was a total people pleaser, always watching others to see how I should act.  Even now I cannot cry though I've gone through the looking glass and realized what was done to me. 

 :hug:

I am so sorry you were denied to feel and express your emotions.

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Butterfly

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Re: inability to feel anger
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2014, 11:40:58 AM »
And your opening post you said you were not allowed to show emotion. There's a big difference between feeling something and showing something. It sure sounds to me like you have plenty of feeling anger but have no tools to release that anger that satisfy you.

The question I have is are you seeking some sort of outward physical release because your mother prevented you from doing so or because society or therapies you have read about indicate you should have some outward display? There are many ways to feel and release anger.

What I've read about cPTSD and healing is more of a calm release of anger rather then an explosive outward display. Sometimes I need to sit and acknowledge my anger, think carefully about what is making me angry, ponder the whole thing. Then some deep breathing while I'm doing this and some other tools for dealing with EF help me work it through.

Not sure if this is helpful, but like you I was not allowed to outwardly explode. To this day I don't find  outward explosions helpful whatsoever but I have found other ways to acknowledge feel and move through my anger

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Badmemories

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Re: inability to feel anger
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2014, 07:05:04 PM »
So many good answers here! What I find in My own life is that is is so easy to express anger to the little ones I deal with... :blowup: I mean I bit My tongue most of the time.. :sadno:.and when I don't then I apologize immediately.   :hug: :hug: I tell them It is wrong for me to get Mad at them..

I think that is probably the way It goes for most of use who are trying to change our families...i remind Myself of MY uNPDM when I do that  :doh: I just see the picture of the Dad coming home and yelling at the Mother, and She Yells at the kids, and then they kick the dog! None of them can take responsibility for their own anger... and they all have to find someone else to blame!

Not me when I F#$% up then I am going to admit it and soothe the child so they don't carry around all the * I do! Hey and I know when they start to cry I hurt their feelings!  ??? Why didn't OUR PARENTS realize that?
Keep on Keeping ON!

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whitecat

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Re: inability to feel anger
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2014, 06:44:51 PM »
Hey guys and thanks for your replies.

I am trying to feel the physical feeling of anger for my health.  I believe the 61 years of anger locked up in my body is causing many of my health problems. 

I remember when I was in my 20's I did explode in a rage once.  Afterward I felt so incredibly good and light and well almost orgasmic...it was frightening to me as I had never felt that way before and I didn't understand it. 

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globetrotter

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Re: inability to feel anger
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2014, 07:25:02 PM »
I got more in touch with my anger recently, via advice I found in a text dealing with CEN (childhood emotional neglect). It talked about how CEN makes us unable to feel anything. The advice they gave was to start a "feelings diary" - to jot down three times a day how you're feeling at that moment.

This is an excellent idea, thank you for sharing.

I do a fine job at feeling happy and mad. 

However, the only time I feel sad, I think, is during an EF or in therapy. I never cry, fight sadness tooth and nail, and stuff it down as quickly as it arises. I haven't truly cried since my mother died 12 years ago. I even fight it in therapy...that and FEAR. I have plenty of repressed fear...forever dodging vulnerability...siggghh...T and I have been talking about fear and connection lately. I need to get my emotional hooks into that one.

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Sandals

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Re: inability to feel anger
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2014, 11:45:56 PM »
Oh man, I am very much a +1 to this team. Anger, tears, etc. are next to nill for me.

Like @Badmemories, I do moments of irritation with my kids but those are anxiety-induced irritations, not true anger.

And tears...for all the sadness and hurt I feel inside, I wish I could cry. But they're not there. :(

It feels so good to be with people who *get it*.

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alovelycreature

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Re: inability to feel anger
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2014, 02:51:45 AM »
I totally understand what you're talking about. My Mom was that way too. For a long time I remember wanting to feel angry, but feeling more numb. I actually ended up making artwork, which was helpful. I made artwork about it for years, and then the anger started coming on. I felt angry for years. Angry and sad. Now I'm just getting more in touch with me and healing.

I think when I first started getting mad. I was mad about my symptoms and all the suffering. I was mad that no one who saw the abuse stepped in. I was mad that my parents were sick and they were never going to change. Everything just felt really unfair.

I guess it's just really a part of grief. Maybe not all people get angry either. Do you want to feel angry? Or do you just feel like you're suppose to feel angry? Or do you just feel the need for some sort of release? Like I said, being creative was helpful for me. Maybe you need a way of expressing yourself that isn't verbal.

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voicelessagony2

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Re: inability to feel anger
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2014, 12:10:41 AM »
Wow I can't get over how much of myself I see in here.

I also wonder, whitecat, if you feel like you're supposed to be angry, or if you really deeply want to be able to feel it.

I used to get angry over dumb stuff like road rage, or like once in a blue moon I would react (justifiably) angry toward an abusive partner, but I have only recently started feeling a tiny tinge of anger about my neglect and abuse.

Maybe, here's just a random crazy idea, that I think about for myself once in a while: Think about a lovely, beautiful child. A family member, a neighbor kid, or even on TV. Now think about the abuse you experienced happening to that child. Tap into your compassion, and maybe that will un-freeze some of that anger, and you can really see that the child is you.

HTH  :hug: