"I had a hard time directing the anger at my dad. My therapist would say, 'Well, how did you feel when your dad picked you up and threw you against the wall?' I'd say, 'Well, I pretty much felt like he was an a#$%&le.' And my therapist would say, 'Hmmm.' One time, after years of therapy, when he asked me something about my father, I was holding this pencil, and I just threw it across the room and said, 'That b#$%&rd!' It was the first time I was ever clearly angry at him. Sure, I'd been mad at my dad, but it was directed in all the wrong directions."
One way people cut themselves off from their anger is to become so immersed in the perspective of the abuser that they lose connection with themselves and their own feelings. This approach is enthusiastically endorsed by most of society. If you are unable to focus your rage at the abuser, it will go somewhere else. Many people turn it on themselves, leading to depression and self-destruction. You may have wanted to hurt or kill yourself. You may feel yourself to be essentially bad, criticize yourself unrelentingly, and devalue yourself. You might stuff your anger with food, drown it with alcohol, stifle it with drugs and make yourself sick.
"I had a lot of physically abusive relationships. I didn't know how not to fight. My first impulse when I got angry I started to get upset with someone, I would literally feel the adrenaline running up and down my arms. My muscles would get really tight, my fists would clench, and I would break out into a sweat. I'd be ready to smack the person around. I'd want to fight."
If violence has been part of your life and you find yourself expressing your anger in abusive ways, you need to get help right away. It's okay to be angry, but it's not okay to use violence as a way to hurt someone.
If you don't physically fight, you may pick verbal fights. You may look for things, events or even people to criticize. You want to tell your child to do homework, but you find yourself yelling or calling your child names instead. Your mate may forget to put oil in the car and you find yourself calling your mate a stupid idiot! Even though it isn't violent, verbal abuse is destructive.
I believe a lot of people don't get help with anger until it is too late. It then takes a lot of time and effort to get those emotions back under control.
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