Friday, February 17, 2012

Anger comes in Second

Mahatma GandhiYou can't shake hands with a clenched fist.
Mahatma Gandhi

upsi had a very busy week with trolls and nasty comments that were claiming they were just trying to be helpful but I think Gandhi has it right, "You can't shake hands with a clenched fist."  Dumping anger on someone else to enlighten them rarely does that.  The one I particularly want to tackle was 'Lucky You.'
What came out on this one was the accusation, "You, all of you, are so angry."  The context implied, at least to my perspective, that some sort of sin was committed for being angry.   I am sharing my experience of living with and without anger.

I grew up in a home with two parents and several children.  (I thank the Lord everyday that one of them was my sister.)  My mother was, how do I put this nicely, volatile.  Unfortunately, she felt that having a child entitled her to correct in me what she couldn't control in herself.  She was emotionally out of control so I was punished for getting angry.  I was ridiculed for being sad.  I was clamped down if I was too excited.  I was told depressing and unhappy situations of others if I was happy.  By the time I was a teenager, I held a very tight control on my emotions.  Anger was number 1 on the hit list.  I MUST NEVER BE ANGRY.  Part of being a teenager is out of control hormones and trying to establish your own boundaries.  Anger lets you know when a boundary is violated.  In order to maintain peace, I stifled my anger and all the other emotions.  I learned to stamp out and swallow any feelings negative or positive.  I could only show a pleasant face to be acceptable.  As an adult, I continued down this path until I ended up in counseling.  I entered marriage counseling thinking I needed to learn how to communicate.  My counselor quickly realized that the first thing he had to figure out was what I felt.  Like a well trained boxer I dodged, weaved and used fancy footwork to avoid all things that were emotional.  I still remember his show of frustration when I blocked every conversation that would talk about how I felt.  He explained to me that his job was to help me work through and process my emotions.  I stared at him blankly.  I watched with curiosity as it dawned on him that I really had no idea what he was talking about.  He sat back and absorbed that information.  He started again slowly.  He then spent the next several months trying to piss me off.  I know this for only one reason.  My boss wanted to know why I would sometimes just call in and say I had to go home.  He wanted to know what these sudden illnesses were.  This boss sent a list of questions to my counselor that had to be clarified or I would loose my job.  By the time the questionnaire went to KavinCoach, I knew I was a multiple and I knew that the sudden illnesses were a switch in personality and one of the ones that couldn't fix computers took over.  At that point, I may as well go home and sleep until I could switch back.  The answers explained to my boss that my counselor used anger (he used a fancier word but I am giving my interpretation) to get me to address my unresolved issues in life.  I read that report ten times trying to wrap my mind around the fact he was talking about me.  Anger was the easiest emotion to trigger in most people.

I remember the session that KavinCoach was actually succeeding in getting me angry.  I don't even remember what the discussion was about.  I felt myself getting angry and I stopped it.  KavinCoach actually stopped mid-sentence when he realized the anger had vanished.  He asked, "Where did it go?"
Me: "Where did what go?"
KC: "You were getting angry."
Me: "Yes."
KC: "Now its gone.  There isn't even any tension in your face.  It is gone.  Where did it go?"
I really hate those questions that he would ask me about myself and I don't know the answer.  I had no idea where it went; it was just gone.  KavinCoach spent months and many hours working at first getting me angry and then teaching me that anger was a secondary emotion.  Anger only followed fear, hurt, or frustration.  Fear, hurt and frustration could come by themselves but Anger loved the buddy system and just had to have support from fear, hurt or frustration and sometimes all three.  He taught me that when Anger is treated as the Primary emotion, fear, hurt and frustration would work undercover to undermine any anger management attempts.  Anger was the red flag to the other emotions.  I walked into his office sometime after learning about the fact he was purposely trying to get me angry and told KavinCoach...."I found it." (Said in a singsong voice.)  I found the lake of rage boiling buried deep.  I had a LOT of emotion to work through.  Without anger, KavinCoach would have had a far more difficult time reaching my emotions of fear, hurt, and frustration that drove a wedge within myself.  Anger helped me to liberate my soul.


mulderfan said...

I always suppressed anger because I didn't want to be like my NF. I'm still having a hard time with it because, for me, it's equated with his uncontrollable rages.

Intellectually I know anger is normal and healthy. Emotionally it terrifies me.

Thanks for sharing your experience, Ruth.

Hugs P/M

Ruth said...

Anger is a terrifying emotion when uncontrolled. I will probably be spending several days writing about anger.

upsi said...

Really enjoyed this post, Ruth - thanks for sharing what you've learned. Helpful and empowering!

Laurel Hawkes said...

I know I have a tendency to choose anger over fear. I've become so adept, I don't even notice the fear it disappears so fast. Once I learned it was a secondary emotion, it was easy to trace back to what had frightened me. I hate being afraid more, because then I feel weak and powerless. Anger is incredibly powerful. Learning to use it for good was a challenge, but worth all the time and effort. Go us! :-)

Ruth said...

Thanks upsi and Laurel.