Does anger imply unforgiveness? This morning I think I have uncovered a belief that might be part of my obstacle with expressing anger, coming from my discomfort of having anger to begin with. I want to be healthy with my feelings and emotions, allowing myself to feel anger rather than default to pain and crying. Interrupting that cycle is not easy, but I’m willing to do what I need to do to get to the other side of this.
I wasn’t overjoyed over my assignment to list the things that I am angry about concerning my brother David, but I did embrace the possibility that I could get clarity and become released from the pain cycle I experience so regularly. I shared with my mother some of the things that were discussed at therapy yesterday, in particular about the relationship with David and my struggle with anger. She brought up that I needed to forgive and be released from the resentment (something along those lines). Now I’m experiencing something that I hadn't anticipated – anger over not being allowed to have my anger without something else attached to it. Right now, I have this sense that I have to be justified in my anger: that anger is bad unless there is something righteous about it. I am feeling defensive about having anger, yet wanting to express it. Even further, I am aware of wanting to be validated for the work around anger and how difficult it has been for me to do this. There is a lot of young Sara in this, I see.
The interesting part is how this issue of anger has tapped into an anger source. Why do I feel so compelled to dismiss my anger? Why do I not feel comfortable being angry? Why does forgiveness have to be attached to my anger? Can’t I just be angry without being offended and resentful and justified? I am angry that the issue of anger was so huge that I couldn't (wouldn't?) be angry for myself. Instead, it was expected that I be compliant, respectful, helpful, agreeable, pleasant, happy, trusting, dependable. There wasn't any room for anger. I've bought into this thinking, or perhaps I created it. I just know that being angry doesn't come easily unless it is in defense of someone else. Then it comes rather quickly.
So today I press inward with intention and tenacity to feel what I don’t want to feel. I strap on my recovery cloak and mentally go to places that are difficult to remember. I do this because I love myself enough to believe there is a happier life on the other side of this pain. I trust the process even though I want to run, hide, medicate, and otherwise become numb to all of this. I grow tired of this work but I continue on with determination.
I think I was the “hero” of the family. I recall being asked about the roles we each take on in our family of origin. It just seems apparent that as the middle child, the girl, the compliant one, the pleaser…I was the hero (rather than the clown, the scapegoat, etc). So when I hear in my head, “Sara, what’s your problem? You don’t have to be so angry about it.” I wonder what was that about? What am I really feeling? Where do I go with that anger?
When Eric felt anger, he got angry. Or least he did often enough that I remember it very vividly. When he was done being angry he reappeared in his charming manner, quickly returning to the family fold most notably to my mother’s good graces. His anger was attributed to his maleness and his genealogy. When I got angry, it wasn't the same. I felt the disapproval which usually resulted in my going to my room, crying, and feeling alone as if I had done something wrong, ushering in guilt and shame.
I’m being told that I need to feel my anger, yet it is so hard to access. And when I do, it is deeply painful. Attached to experiencing that painful anger is the fear of what happens when I do, meaning I associate there being rejection, loneliness, guilt, and shame. So that pretty much covers it…anger carries with it all of the other feelings: pain, fear, loneliness, guilt, shame.
I think I have to be with this for a while. Fortunately, The Healing Lane offers some good views and some helpful tools.