Anger: How Do You Learn To Express It In A Healthy Manner
When I was in my active addiction I only ever experienced two emotions: anger and sadness. These two emotions loomed heavy over my life and my days consisted of switching back and forth between the two of them. Looking back now I’m not even entirely sure what I was so angry about, but at the time I felt a rage inside of me that could never truly be quelled.
That was until I got sober and I began to really take a look at my past. I learned a great many things about myself and my experience that supplanted a lot of the generalized anger that I felt towards the world. I no longer walked around thinking I was a victim and with the removal of my victim mentality, a large portion of my anger went away as well. The biggest resentment that I struggle with in sobriety is towards my ex.
I started to have a relationship with a God of my understanding and with this relationship, I was able to begin to not be so hard on others or myself and this further reduced my anger. But throughout all of this I never really learned how to properly express my anger.
The thing of it is that as an alcoholic I know that to stay angry is not really an option for me. It is something that “normal” people can do for years with impunity, because unlike myself, they do not have to try to temper their emotions for fear of drinking again.
That being said, I am still a human being and I will still get angry from time to time, but how exactly to express this most human of emotions can still be baffling to me. Within Alcoholics Anonymous I am told that if I am angry I should pray for the person or I should journal about it, but recently I have found that neither of these things are working when it comes to a particular situation that I am facing.
I moved back home to be with my children and I share custody of them with my ex-husband. Having to deal with him on a weekly basis has ignited an anger in me that is consuming my life. I try to pray for him and I try to accept the things that he does to hurt me, knowing that I currently can’t do anything to change it, but yet the anger still resides. At this point, it is actually getting worse, which has caused me to take a look at anger as a whole and to try to find a way to learn to express it in a healthy manner.
One thing that I have realized in doing this is that now when I get angry I feel very guilty. I feel like I am not working my program properly or not trusting God enough and so my feelings of anger are never really expressed. They seem to come up and I am outraged for a bit and then that is followed by self-hatred and guilt. This causes me to try to stuff my anger down, which as I have learned from years of stuffing emotions, never really works.
See the truth is that “spiritual axiom” of every time I am disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with me, has been internalized within me in such a way that I cannot truly allow myself to be angry. Whenever anger comes up I believe that I am wrong and so therefore I don’t actually allow myself to experience it. This does nothing but hold me back from getting over my issues because I am not actually purging myself of the emotions.
While I tend to agree with the spiritual axiom I have found that it is not always the case. If I was a monk or something that like then quite possibly what other people do would not affect me, but I am not there, so when people do things to hurt me, I get hurt. This does not mean that something in me is wrong, or that I am doing anything wrong, it just simply means that I am a human being who feels and gets hurt.
This was a very large revelation for me to understand because in the past I viewed getting angry as a non-spiritual act, but seeing that anger is an emotion that I will inevitably experience in life, and there is nothing wrong with it, means that I can hopefully begin to allow myself the space to be angry and properly experience the emotion.
I do have a tendency to take things to the extreme so at a certain point I am responsible for my emotions and I am responsible for how long I allow myself to stay angry. To a certain degree being angry with my ex-husband makes me feel good. It makes me feel powerful and like I am better than him and I know that if I revel too much in this feeling it will ultimately be my undoing. So I realize as well that I have to allow anger to come up when it does and not try to suppress it, but at the same time I have to let it go when it is time to.
I don’t necessarily think that this is going to be an easy task. Learning to allow my emotions to flow naturally and not try to hold on to them or suppress them, but as with everything in my life, pain is a great motivator for change. The pain that I am currently putting myself through with this justifiable anger that I feel is starting to be too much and so hopefully around the corner something different awaits me. I hope to be able to see my ex-husband and not get angry but be in a place of neutrality towards him. I will continue to pray and do what is necessary and hopefully in time this will happen.
Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.