Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Anger, Fear, Sadness And Hurt - How They Interact - Part 2

If you are visiting here for the first time you might want to go and read my previous post which is Part 1 of this series.  My article will take you to the blog  Emerging From Broken  post where I left my comments.  Without any more introduction, here is Comment #3 that I wrote in response to Darlene's post and other comments.   Any words in brackets [ ] are my thoughts that I have added as I wrote this post.  They were not in the original comment.

Comment #3
"Darlene, I got what you meant in the first comment rather than reading it as only being all in your mind.  Ever since I started this recovery journey, I have been aware of the battle with the part of me that resists change.  It doesn't matter that recovery brings about good change.  Change of any kind was always terrifying to me as a child and still can be as an adult if it is sudden.  [Change in my family of origin was often sudden and sometimes quite dramatic because my dad was very unstable usually with his drinking and/or rage so change became frightening to me as a child.  This is a thought pattern that I still struggle with today but to a lessening degree.]  My husband will gladly agree with me when I say that the child inside of me when she gets scared will still argue and get angry sometimes, not all the time, before the adult part of me steps in and thinks about the change and sees that it is reasonable and good to make the change.  Sometimes the battle between inner child and adult just goes on briefly inside my mind.  Sometimes she is quicker than the adult me and voices her fears as anger.  Then the adult me has to step in and discuss what was just said rationally, with my husband usually.  He is more adventurous and more spontaneous than I am so he is usually the one to stir up the fear and anger.

Anger is an emotion that I know well.  It was allowed in our house when I was a child, but the only one who was allowed to feel and voice his anger was my dad.  His anger came out as rage.  His rage always came out with a threat of violence, especially if he was drunk.

For may years, I could go from calm to anger to full blown rage in a matter of seconds.  [Just like I saw my dad do when I was a child.  I didn't realize for many years how I was copying him.  I would have hated it if I had.  I didn't want to be like my mom or my dad.  Neither was healthy but I didn't know any other way to be.  I saw my mom as weak and helpless so it was better to be like the parent who was strong and in control.]  It sounds strange even to me to say that anger was a safer emotion to me than fear was.  I think maybe, in my mind, that I felt I could control the anger better than I could control the fear.  Anger was also a powerful thing of strength.  Fear was not.  Fear showed weakness.  Anger showed control and strength.  I didn't want to be afraid and weak.  I wanted to be strong and powerful so that I could feel protected.  (This is a very big ah-ha moment for me in typing that - Something that I have never made the connection to before.  I will have to share my 2 [actually 3] comments in a blog post of my own.  This is really big for me.)

I have known for many years that my anger was almost always a cover-up for my fear but I never realized the powerful/safety - weak/not safe thing before.  I felt powerless and very frightened when my dad was doing the anger/rageful episodes in my childhood.  He was so controlling that as an adult, I always think of him as a dictator.  He was in total control of each of our family members.  I wasn't allowed to participate in sports or any after school clubs or activities.  Neither were my brother or sister because it would give us something that was out of his control.  Isolation was the only way that his control would work. . . . "

There was a little more to my comment but it doesn't really apply to my topic here so I didn't copy it.  Again you can go to Emerging From Broken to read the rest of my comment if you haven't already.

Something else that I realized while typing the above comment was how much all of this came from my desire to not be like my mother.  Safety was a really big part of this too.  If I was in control then I could pretend I wasn't afraid.  If I wasn't afraid, I could feel safe.  The bigger part though has to do with my mother and what she taught me.  I have always known that my mother was the one that my real issues would be with.  I have done very little work on my mother issues.  I always told myself that since my dad was the abuser that my major issues were with him.  That is and isn't true.  My dad was the violently abusive person.  Rape, even when it doesn't appear physically violent as in beating you up violent is still violent because of the physical pain that penetration causes and the emotional lines that it crosses when the person raping you is your parent or some other close relative or someone who has authority over you as a child.  Throw in boundary violations and you have another big area of emotional rape.  Signs of physical violence heal much quicker and easier than those of emotional rape caused by crossing of boundaries.  Okay, I just distracted myself from the mother issues again.  The above needed to be said and I may continue it at another time.  Back to my mother.

Anger/rage represents my dad and what he taught me about feelings and myself.  I saw him as the stronger, more in control of my two parents.  As a child, I had no control.  As an adult, I swore to myself that no one would ever have that kind of control over me again.  I became like him because I saw him as strong.  Strong meant powerful instead of powerless/helpless like my mom was. 

The fear came from my mom - fear of feeling, fear of really being alive, fear of dreaming about a better life, fear of being a powerful human being, fear of being a woman in all of her glory.  These are the things that I learned from my mother.  I learned how to be a woman and mother from watching my mother.  All of the things that she taught me, I didn't want to be.  I saw her as weak, as helpless, as controlled by others, as afraid of her own self.  Because in being a woman, I was like her, I hated myself.  I couldn't hate her.  I could hate my dad but I couldn't hate her.  She was weak and helpless.  I learned at an early age to protect her.  You can't hate someone that you have to protect, someone who is weaker than you.  Wow!!!  This is intense for me.  My solar plexus is full of churning emotions right now.  That is where I feel all of this.  It may be a different place for you. 

I have never equated my fear with my mom before.  I didn't realize that I didn't want to be afraid because I saw fear as weak and powerless.  I can even take it to the next level in that fear covers my hurt which I feel as heavy, heavy sadness.  I can barely remember a time when I didn't feel this great sadness.  The fear of feeling the hurt has to do with my very existence.  My fear of feeling the hurt was that if I let it all out and felt it that it would just be too much and I would cease to exist.  I would either kill myself, lay down and never get up again until I died (I did this in a past life which you can read about in the very first post that I wrote here back in June 2007.)  or I would go stark raving mad and just totally lose myself.  I was always afraid that if I felt the hurt that I would start screaming and never stop.  The silent screams would have a voice and become my reality.  How does a child feel that much pain and survive it without disconnecting in some way.  As bad as the physical pain was in the beginning, that isn't the pain that I am talking about.  I am talking about the emotional pain of being betrayed by your parents, your parents who are in charge of your very existence.  I was always afraid that if pushed too much my dad could cross the line and kill all of us.  I was always afraid that if I told my mom about the incest, she would get a gun and shoot my dad and go to jail which were have left me parentless.  I was always afraid that my mom would cross the line and go into limbo somewhere that I couldn't reach her even on a physical level.  If she was ever there for me emotionally, I don't remember it.  I know she was gone emotionally by the time that I was three years old.  There are more ways than just physically to commit suicide and I was afraid that she would fine a way.   You can shut down so much that only an empty shell is left behind.  I couldn't take the chance that my mom would do that.  She had to be there so that I could continue to lie to myself when I told myself that my mom loved me.  I couldn't let go of that or her for many years.

What frightens me the most is that I know that I have all of those things that my mom and dad taught me inside of me.  I fight so strongly against being like either one of them because I know that I could be just like them if I just gave in and gave up.  I refuse to give in to the helplessness or the hopelessness that my mother taught me.  I am stronger than that.  There is a balance - a middle ground which is healthy - which is somewhere in the middle of the extremes that I learned as a child.  Let me know what you think about my ramblings.


Anonymous said...

I also have that problem until one day I noticed that I was doing things my mom and dad would do on an ordinary day. I had to except those traits. I had a conversation with God one day and told him I can except those traits but will not except the abusive traits they had. Been at peace since!

Patricia Singleton said...

A resurrected spirit, thank you for sharing your comment about how you dealt with this topic. It always helps to know that we aren't the only one to struggle with these issues.

Just Be Real said...

Pat appreciate you sharing. Thank you.

Patricia Singleton said...

JBR, you are very welcome. Thank you for your continuing support. You are appreciated. (((Hugs)))

Linda Freedman said...

You're absolutely prolific! I'll link over here.

Patricia Singleton said...

Thanks for the comment and link.

Unknown said...

Thank you for your kindness to share the experience with us. All experiences are giving us a lesson to remember. These are the stepping stones for our realisation.


Patricia Singleton said...

John P. K., you are very welcome. I, too, believe that all of our experiences are lessons that make us into a better human being and help our soul to move to its next level of development.

Dr. Deb said...

Great post and you're ability to share this is so healing for you and readers too!

Patricia Singleton said...

Dr. Deb, thank you. Yes, it is very healing for me. I always hope that it is for others who may read my posts.

Erin Catherine said...

Thanks so much, Patricia, you are such a strong, amazing woman! I admire you so much for doing the work and changing the family pattern. My mother had a childhood much like yours, except she denies and makes light of most of it. My grandfather stopped drinking when I was 3 and I knew him only as a loving, wonderful, man. In reality, he was extremely abusive and molested my aunt (& possibly my mother) for many years. I only know this because he tried to molest me when I was 13. My aunt dragged him off of me, screaming about what he had done to her. My mother has completely blocked this part of her childhood from her memory, making it impossible to deal with. She has become my grandfather with the rage and control and it is truly horrible. Dealing with my own sexual abuse issues is difficult enough without constantly walking on eggshells around her. My gosh… even my not hearing the phone ring when she calls sends her over the edge.

Thanks for the insight and best wishes on your journey!


Patricia Singleton said...

Aerin,you are very welcome. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment. I am glad that my story gave you some insights into your own life and that of your mother's. I, too, believe that my mother was molested by someone even though she told me that she wasn't. She had many of the characteristics of an abused child.

I feel sad that you are dealing with your mother's rage. I know what that rage is like. I have been on the receiving end of my dad's rage as a child. As an adult, I did my own raging until I learned to accept and manage my own feelings. Learning to get angry in a healthy way is hard work and not everyone is willing to do that work.

Do what is necessary to take care of yourself. You do not deserve to be abused. You did not deserve it as a teenager from your grandfather and you do not deserve it now as an adult from your mother.

Tracie Nall said...

oh oh oh....I always told myself that I would not end up like my mother and father, and recently, I have come to recognize some disturbing tendencies that I have that come straight from them.

I shut myself off and then shut down when I am confronted with too much emotional pain...from within or without. Something else I am still working on.

Healing is such a journey! And I am still striving for that balance myself.

Thank you for sharing this....you have given me a lot to think about.

Patricia Singleton said...

Tracie, thank you for sharing your comment. Darlene's blog article did that for me. It gave me a lot of stuff to think about from a different view point.

Anonymous said...

I have been lucky in not having incest be part of my life, at any point, and my father didn't use any substance whatsoever - however he most likely had a psychosis (still has) for the duration of my growing up with him; my first 13 years. My Mom also was there for me in so many more ways than you describe yours was. However, the emotional rape from my father's side was there, and everything else you share about growing up, down to every little detail, with both your parents.
I too have struggled for many years with processing and letting go of copying their behaviors and the pain it inflicted me in the almost exact same ways as you - although food was not my drug of choice like in your case.
Thank you very much for posting both these articles, that I accidentally stumbled upon. I will keep them handy for whenever I need a reminder on my continued way towards completely freeing myself of my baggage.

Patricia Singleton said...

Anonymous, thank you for your comment. No matter what the abuse is, the feelings are often the same. Emotional abuse is often much worse than all of the other abuses because we continue to carry it inside of us until we can honestly look at what we are feeling and then we start to heal.

You are very welcome. I wish you well on your healing journey to wellness.