Angering in therapy...help appreciated

  • 14 Replies
  • 1618 Views
*

woodsgnome

  • Member
  • 1800
  • I did not wish to live what was not life
    • View Profile
Angering in therapy...help appreciated
« on: September 12, 2016, 03:01:56 PM »
I've done years of research, self-analysis, etc., ad infinitum. I'm an expert at all the mind games that seem to go round and round in their 'circle game', as a famous song once described it..."captured on the carousel of time".

I go back for endless rides, it seems. But now I'm very deep into therapy--although I've had several t's going back 20 years, I've finally found one on top of things and we're progressing, so slowly, and in the meantime focusing in to my real needs--now, not way out there ahead of me.

So, following Walker's suggested steps, I now realize that I'm still struggling with one basic but major issue--angering. As in--I've never felt safe enough, even when alone (which I am 99% of the time) to 'let it out', as one often-misused cliche has it. As hinted, I can feel anger as a mental projection, but not practically to where I've felt it fully. I'm scared of what my endless bottled up anger could trigger in me, including--strange as it seems--letting go of the security of having all that head knowledge, the understanding game.

I'm leaning towards just letting it happen now; as I'm with a very trustworthy therapist as a guide into this wilderness. But it would be cool to know if anyone else on here would be willing to share what this may have been like for them as I move forward into this new territory of release.

Thank you.

*

Three Roses

  • Guest
Re: Angering in therapy...help appreciated
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2016, 03:17:58 PM »
I will be watching this thread, bcuz I'm having the same problem. I know I have acres of anger in there, I see little flashes of it now and then but I know I need to really feel it, I just can't seem to get hold of it long enough.

*

sanmagic7

  • Member
  • 6997
  • learn something from everything
    • View Profile
Re: Angering in therapy...help appreciated
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2016, 09:54:52 PM »
when i began realizing that i had anger to get out, i started writing about it.  i bought a notebook and red pens specifically for anger-letting.  i just started writing, anything that came into my head, my mind, my heart - never mind what my parents, religion, support groups or others in recovery had taught me about how to feel or not feel toward others, what words should never be said.  i stopped editing myself - if it came to mind, it was real, it was valid, and it was valuable, and i wrote it down.  sometimes i simply scribbled in frustration.  i let every cuss word in the book to hit those pages directed at whoever i was writing about (i always used a separate notebook for different people).  and, when i filled that notebook, it was full of pure vitriol, and i didn't want it in my house, so i walked it out to the trash can and dumped it unceremoniously.

my next phase involved the 3 people i have had the most problems with and i did some drawings of them.  i'm no artist, but i simply put the renditions of them on paper that were in my mind.  my ex hub had two faces (kind of picasso - esque), my daughter had a snake running down her face, and my ex-therapist had tornadoes all over her face (she kept me completely confused), and i wrote words all over the page that came to mind for each.  i made copies of these, and hung them around my little computer room to get a sense of what they were really like, what i was surrounded by.  when i'd had enough, after several days, i tore their pictures down, and ripped them into tiny pieces.  it was an act of taking my power back.  these, too, i took out to the trash.

i have now become the queen of bed-beating!!!  when i feel anger, i now physically get rid of it by pounding on my bed, yelling, cursing, whatever comes out.  eventually, i'm tired, and i stop.  both the writing and the pictures had their places (and i strongly suggest that these be done with your t if you decide it's something that might work for you), they were part of a progression.  writing is, i think, the safest way to begin. 

i, too, am a researcher, an endless learner, but getting this emotion out had nothing to do with any info i wanted to retain.  it did help me get rid of info that was forced on me that didn't really fit for me, tho.  i'd heard of things like throwing eggs at a tree, but throwing was never my forte.  i know that a lot of strikes while bowling have been made through anger!  i was never able to focus it like that.  i think the main thing is to begin getting it out of your body, where it's been hurting you.  it doesn't belong there, even tho it may have been a survival mechanism at one time to stuff it down.  when you're ready, you'll begin releasing it in the way that's best for you.

that's just an account of my experience.  i do hope you find your way through your own process.  your t may have other suggestions for you to keep you safe. 

*

Boatsetsailrose

  • Member
  • 1418
  • Hello welcome - so glad I am here and you are too
    • View Profile
Re: Angering in therapy...help appreciated
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2016, 06:32:00 PM »
Hi woods gnome
I can relate .. Thank u for sharing
I have a fear of anger too and for me it's 'what am I capable of doing when angry ... If I let rip '
The anti dep dampen my anger now and I know there is not as much in me as there has been ...
I've processed deep anger both in therapy and 12 step recovery

For me yes writing has helped really letting go via the pen
Also I did a fair amount of pillow wacking , workshops where I could express in a grp situation and it be a held space and going to remote places and yelling from my gut
I think all humans have a primal scream and for me it's felt good to access it
Quote ' letting go of the security of all that head knowledge'
Yes feeling the feelings and being in our body can be v scarey .. Esp if there has been much mental defence and logical or indeed illogic all thinking ...
For me anything physical is good - walking / jogging and yoga. Pete talks about yoga as such a valuable tool for us
Meditation is something I deeply value as can naturally move away from my mind and into a good space within me . I meditate every morning now and wouldn't be without it .
See 'head space' you can download the first level for free and I find it great
And finally compassion - talking to
Our younger self and providing reassurance and comfort
I have a teddy bear who has helped me so much

The process u are now taking will bring you fruits I am sure ..
Fear can't harm you ( though it mascarades that it can
Just taking it one day at a time and being kind to ourselves

*

2Spirits

  • Member
  • 21
  • life gets better...
    • View Profile
Re: Angering in therapy...help appreciated
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2016, 02:29:07 PM »
HI woodsgnome,
I can relate to you and I wonder if you can post updates of what you found out when you tried, please!

Because for me it's also hard to become angry, it's an emotion that doesn't come naturally with me - I'm afraid, I feel shame, insecurity etc.
Except when i act out of control, then I'm angry but i regret it afterwards and I feel awful. It's a very disempowering state, so I avoid it as good as I can.
Hmmm... I never understood why people describe being angry as a powerful emotion. It feels like loosing control and admitting I have no resources left.

Hmmm. this thread makes me wonder what happened if I felt just anger without having to shout at someone or picking up a fight.

So I've talked about me because reading inspired me... let me see if I can reply more on topic to you.

It's interesting that you write "I've never been safe enough"... what would you need to feel safe? Is there anything you can imagine that would add just a small amount of safety? How far do you trust your gut and your T - perhaps sticking your little toe out? You don't have to go all the way at once - you know that of course, but sometimes it helps to hear it from others ;)

What I manage so far is to say loud (when I'm alone) for what I'm thankful and for what gifts, events, days I'm explicitly NOT thankful. It goes something like this:
Dear ...,
I thank you for this and that, because it did ... for me or made me fell ...
I don't thank you for ... because ...

It works quite well for me to make myself clear what i feel and value ... and what I'd rather not have again.

Good luck in your ventures, you're really really brave  :bigwink:
A

*

woodsgnome

  • Member
  • 1800
  • I did not wish to live what was not life
    • View Profile
Re: Angering in therapy...help appreciated
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2016, 03:48:16 PM »
Thanks for the comments on this so far... It's giving me encouragement to tackle a perplexing problem I've had with fully expressing anger as a part of therapy. But, as Boatsetsailrose reminds..."Fear can't harm you ( though it masquerades that it can). Just taking it one day at a time and being kind to ourselves is key."

Angering remains foreign territory for me. It's fair to say I've been carrying anger around as a 'normal' state forever. While relief may be a byproduct of angering, I don't really think the goal can be to totally eliminate the anger or ever fully escape from it, either. The mind will make sure the anger hangs around  in one form or another. In one sense the presence of anger may even be a good reminder of the often painful path I've traveled already. Seeking to EXPRESS the anger safely is the  challenge I'm willing to dive in for.

Over the years, I've tried some of the methods suggested in this thread, and while all released some of the anger, I never felt wholly satisfied that I'd even made a dent in what's coiled up inside. That may not move; but my attitude might still have hope to find peace via more conscious angering, as Walker suggests.

My own attempts have ranged from writing to burning slips of paper (with notes about people or incidents that hurt me), to mentally venting some good tirades (often in response to nasty inner voices). My living situation is ideally suited to venting loudly, yet it still seems odd to do that--it might disturb the pets, and 'murphy's law'--what can go wrong probably will--has me fearing that someone might be out in the woods and hear me, judge me, etc., adding a shame layer on top of an already fragile psyche.

This increase in shame  happened once before, although not around here. Along the lines of more formal anger release, I once was in a group doing self-discovery processes. We were encouraged to practice swinging a plastic bat against the floor, a technique that seemingly produced good vibes for other participants, so I decided to give it a go as well. But when I did, it backfired big-time, and my Inner Critic had a field day as the anger I was generating I turned on myself. Not a good scene; and I felt in 'shame city' for quite a spell afterwards.


My best anger outlet was a byproduct of my backwoods life--chopping wood! It's amazing how the power one puts into splitting wood can, even inadverdently, be a good form of release, not to mention good for the body in general. I was once a master woodsplitter, but now don't heat with wood, for several reasons. Oh, one other instance I'll mention--I know this sound totally off-the-wall for many, but I once learned how to throw a tomahawk at a target. Like really good! And that of course can equal wood-splitting in releasing body tension, if not full angering in the sense Walker talks about. Maybe I need to restore my chopping block, even if I don't truly need it for heating the place anymore. Hmmm...perhaps I also need a dart board?

So I've had occasion to release but, except for the natural wood-split/hawk-throwing inadverdent stuff, I have--as was noted, not felt safe in doing so--safe in the sense that I truly felt valid anger expression, especially with someone else. Maybe it's strange, but I feel like I need a supportive witness to validate any anger release; despite my bad group experience.

Finally having found a very skilled therapist, I'm hoping to work out a safe route to practice effective angering with her. We're using some of the Walker material as a sort of backdrop to some of our sessions. But for the angering, I've reached the point where I feel I want to/need to truly break loose at least a chunk of the 'armour' and go from there. Loads of tears have helped, but the full angering expression remains elusive.  Her office is within a medical centre, there's other folks in the hallways, and...it doesn't feel quite safe but...who knows, I still need to bust loose of this anger jam. Circling back to my original post in this thread, just wondering if anyone else has had the 'with therapist' experience and did it make a difference?
« Last Edit: September 26, 2016, 03:59:27 PM by woodsgnome »

*

Three Roses

  • Guest
Re: Angering in therapy...help appreciated
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2016, 09:44:05 PM »
I can't add anything to this thread yet, as I still need to get in touch with the anger I know I have but don't feel. But I'll be watching for clues!  ;)

*

Sisue

  • Member
  • 24
    • View Profile
Re: Angering in therapy...help appreciated
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2016, 03:28:36 AM »
This thread resonates with me too.  I feel like I am at a standstill with my progress because I am scared to let my anger out.  I am holding on to a ton of it!  In my childhood home, we were never taught any skills for expressing emotions.  Anger was a cardinal sin.

woodsgnome said: Seeking to EXPRESS the anger safely is the  challenge I'm willing to dive in for.

That is exactly what I am struggling with.  The anger I feel for people I have gone NC with or no longer need to live with is easier to safely express.  It is with my SO that I am paralyzed.  Neither one of us can express our anger in a safe and constructive manner.  Any hint at the release of anger and we both bristle and then just clam up.

Because my SO can't express anger, it seems probable that he wasn't taught any skills either.  The biggest hurdle seems to be in that while I am willing to learn, actively research and practice skills to grow, my SO is not. 

How can I move forward (in both my personal recovery and our relationship) if he won't move with me?  Any suggestions?

*

sanmagic7

  • Member
  • 6997
  • learn something from everything
    • View Profile
Re: Angering in therapy...help appreciated
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2016, 05:15:40 PM »
sisue, i firmly believe that your primary focus needs to be on yourself, your own growth, and your own evolution.  as you become more firmly embraced within your own recovery, the changes that you need for yourself and your relationship will come to the fore.  your so will notice these changes, and will be forced to make a decision - either get with the program or be left behind. 

i'm not trying to be harsh or pessimistic, only realistic.  as you change, your expectations on yourself and your relationship will change as well.  you'll see things differently, begin to think differently (in a healthier way), and act differently.  you can only encourage your so to join you on the journey in recovery.  hopefully, s/he will see that what you are doing is something s/he wants to participate in.  my best to you with this.  big hug!

*

Riverstar

  • Member
  • 17
    • View Profile
Re: Angering in therapy...help appreciated
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2016, 06:15:34 PM »
I think it's really common for people who've been abused to be afraid of anger or unable to be angry, because they don't want to be like their abuser. When I was a preteen I went through years of an anger phase where I would just explode and lose control completely and still no one would listen, and it was terrifying. From there I realized that behind anger is pain, and so removed anger entirely from my life basically. I didn't think it was ever a good thing, and that it was just denial for pain. It took a couple years of another abusive relationship for me to learn to be angry again - I finally was angry at him for hurting me and never making up for it, despite how hard I tried. So little by little over the last few years I've been learning how to be angry again, and I feel much better. A book that might help you think about this is "Coping with Trauma" by Jon Allen. In it he says something I really agree with: that anger is adaptive and very important for not letting others hold you back, and for self-respect. He also says that by cultivating anger and by paying attention to your anger at the milder end (irritation, frustration) that's actually the best way to avoid uncontrollable, powerful and violent bursts of anger (the other common situation for PTSD people). This makes a lot of sense to me. Anger is really important - it shows you your values, and reveals when something isn't right and needs to be changed. But having been there, I wholly understand why you might be afraid of your own anger or unable to feel angry at all (the latter is probably a repressed version of the former). It's safer not to feel, safer not to express you pain (or has been for me and probably most of you), and terrifying to do anything that you think might turn you into your abuser. The problem with the latter idea is that abused people without therapy often fall into one of two camps: they become angry abusers themselves, or they become those who are so afraid of anger that they let themselves be abused, and don't stand up for the people and the issues they care about. But in any situation of abuse and betrayal and abandonment, I think there is a huge amount of both grief and anger, and both are important to healing.

So I understand and empathize, but there is hope with time, healing, therapy, self-awareness and self-compassion. Hope this helps.

*

Joeybird

  • Member
  • 29
    • View Profile
Re: Angering in therapy...help appreciated
« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2016, 06:06:20 AM »
I sometimes don't feel anger right away. I go into a sort of fugue state, and don't think about it. I've been better about my delayed reactions sometimes, but I still do it. It's like I'm afraid to be angry.

*

woodsgnome

  • Member
  • 1800
  • I did not wish to live what was not life
    • View Profile
Re: Angering in therapy...help appreciated
« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2016, 03:39:51 PM »
Joeybird wrote: "It's like I'm afraid to be angry."

Oh yeah. And a big roadblock comes from times I've tried before. Before Walker, and still while trying to work with the grief/anger steps, something seems to snap in me and I crash. Then the anger reverts to self-anger and I repeat an old hatred of mine: self-hatred, where all the angry feelings boomerang back to me. No amount of desperation has ever broken this cycle. I think it's beyond time that I can feel enabled to get past such a huge obstacle.

But I'm also learning that mere intention won't get me there. The work has been hard. Actively accepting the self-hate regrets within the new possibility of finding self-love is my current task in therapy; and man, is it hard. The cruel paradox is the harder I try, the more elusive it can seem. Paradox describes it well--because sometimes I feel the best when I can truly relax (yoga nidra is helping) into the acceptance that even I deserve a spot in this thing called love.

Hard; I accept that...then I fall into the slow notion that maybe I can try/relax and not let go of what I'm learning to the point of feeling that it's been well and truly learned. Then instead of the self-hatred repeating, a little glistening of self-love can break through the tough soil, ready for nurturing and care. Whew!--I will be so happy to feel that and not just dream it.

Oyyy--but then to get to the self-love I'm also aware that self-worth has to come even before that...on and on, it seems...so an especially hard part then becomes the courage to stick with whatever seems to be pointing out the way. Then it's obvious once more--I'm alone with this...so alone.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2016, 09:00:06 PM by woodsgnome »

*

Riverstar

  • Member
  • 17
    • View Profile
Re: Angering in therapy...help appreciated
« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2016, 04:00:08 PM »
(trigger warning) Woodsgnome, though there are many reasons for self-hatred, something that I've learned is that a big reason people who've been abused can be hard on themselves is that they're angry at their abuser but turn it on themselves. It's the same anger. And abused child (if this is your situation) starts out adoring their parents and wanting to forgive them, and it's easier to blame yourself than to accept that your parents aren't the people you thought they were or wanted them to be, and that they never loved you as much as you love them. Blame can be a very important part of healing, if we're talking about child/parent abuse, because an abusive parent did fail in their responsibilities and deserve blame (though many people would say (awful) things like don't blame people for your problems), and more importantly, because if you never blame your abuser or feel angry at your abuser, then that's where self-hate or depression comes from. You can't escape the anger and grief, but you can choose to turn it on yourself rather than accept the devastating truth that your abuser didn't care as much as you did. I believe the only way you can get rid of self-hating thoughts (and self-doubting ones) is to release your anger at the proper target and speak your truth, not just to find peace in other ways in your life. If it's relevant, a book I found really helpful for these ideas was "Toxic Parents" by Susan Forward.

*

sanmagic7

  • Member
  • 6997
  • learn something from everything
    • View Profile
Re: Angering in therapy...help appreciated
« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2016, 08:02:02 AM »
oh, woodsgnome, i can so relate.  the work is terribly hard, the hardest i've ever known.  it does seem neverending at times, then there is that speck of light, a day when i feel good and i think aha! a breakthrough, and it's downhill from here!  but, then it comes back and bites me in the butt again, only just a wee bit different, so it is difficult once again.  the circle continues. 

but, i am also convinced there is a way out and through.  i must be convinced of that or i would have stopped all this 2 weeks ago.  i will keep reaching for straws of recovery until i discover that recovery is viable and stable, and i can just go with it.  i hope you can as well.

*

prairiewind

  • Member
  • 28
    • View Profile
Re: Angering in therapy...help appreciated
« Reply #14 on: November 20, 2016, 02:20:20 AM »
I'm new here and found this interesting thread. Only recently have I gotten over my guilt for feeling angry, and letting it out on occasion. I've never cussed but have done that some, as it seems to help with the expression. Only with safe people. I was not allowed to have negative feelings as a child then later in marriage, so no wonder. Anger is valid. We are allowed.