I had been chatting with a friend of mine about the issue of ANGER within our recovery path. Especially in early recovery, we tend to be agitated and moody when we are in abstinence from whatever your choice of “poison” is of an addiction. Mine just happened to be gambling and later alcohol abuse.
The alcohol wasn’t the problem after I began to do the work and be educated about addiction in general. Gambling was my crutch of “escapism, numbing out the world, and painful past trauma as a child. And damn, was I ANGRY! I could not believe I had let an addiction of any kind take over life, becoming completely unmanageable in ALL Areas of my life.
Since I am dually diagnosed with emotional and mood disorders while in my first crisis and treatment stay, hell, I was raging with anger! So I wanted to share a 2 part article for a recovery publication that I wrote several years ago about ANGER and some ways to get past it and manage. I hope it helps and will share part 2 later in the week! I also include some of my good friend Marilyn’s “wisdom” as well as she is a retired psychologist who worked in the prison systems in FL and seen ANGER from inmates on an hourly basis. I can just imagine … Lol.
Today we’re living in an angry world, and some of it can rub off on us within recovery causing discomfort, even pain. But anger doesn’t have to be a bad thing when you understand it and know how to make it work for you. Our past doesn’t define who we are today in recovery. Let’s deal with ANGER in general and hopefully, it will help turn your jangled nerves in recovery to move Heartfelt Peace you deserve …
“At the core of all anger is a need that is not being fulfilled.” ~Marshall B. Rosenberg
“The pot of spaghetti slammed into the wall, and I watched my supper run down onto my clean kitchen floor. I stomped my feet on it and then got a hammer and a box of nails to repair the backdoor screen through which I’d just thrown a chair. I already needed to buy a new lamp. The one I threw across the room last week was beyond repair. My husband and I were having another fight about my gambling!”
That was me–way too often–for too of my gambling many years and when repressed anger broke down the dam and gushed through with a mighty force. I know about anger. When I was a child, I was forbidden to show anger, having to be silent about what was happening to me as a child with sexual trauma. But it had to go somewhere, so it seethed inside, and I got good at stuffing it deep within me for years! Waiting until I became an adult and could let it out, uncontrolled and very painful.
Anger is a complex thing. When projected outward, it becomes destructive, sometimes even lethal. It can ruin relationships, careers, even property, as in my outbursts toward whatever inanimate object was within my reach when the monster reared up inside. Society tells us we shouldn’t get angry, and if we do, we should just suck it up. As if stuffing it down somewhere inside is going to dissolve it.
But when anger is repressed, it can cause ulcers, blood pressure imbalance, heart disease, any number of illnesses. On my 30th birthday, I vowed to never have another angry tantrum, but at the same time, my problem gaming turned into a full-blown addiction! But then my anger turned inward had caused my severe depression.
According to Marion Ross in her book, ‘Removing Your Mask’, anger is a specific form of fear at a very deep level, and most anger shows that people’s internal and external realities are not in balance. The real message of anger is almost always about one’s own beliefs, perceptions, or actions in a given situation or with particular people, not the situations or people themselves. P 194-195.
“Where there is anger, there is always pain underneath.” ~Eckhart Tolle
So what causes anger? Where are your causes of pain? What are your addiction roots of underlying issues? FORGIVE YOURSELF …
Sometimes repressed anger will surface without a conscious reason, especially in early recovery. But anger is often your response to a thought, idea or belief that you or others are being treated unfairly or threatened by someone or something–look what they’re doing to me, or that other person–or that you’ve fallen short of your standards for yourself–which in turn give us those feelings of “entitlement” while we are deep in addiction.
These perceptions may be associated with self-esteem issues, needing to feel secure and safe, your own character defects, loss of active addictions in your life, your sense of not caring for others, or something as simple as a need to be right. For some, being wrong means invalidation of self, but being right provides a false sense of power and it’s OK for us to do what we do in our addiction of choice.
When a situation arouses an inner fear, we use anger and perceive anger as a way to deal with a situation, sometimes just to let off steam like throwing a chair through a screen door when a spouse says you have a problem. Some of your perceptions may be accurate, but lashing out in anger is not the answer. Anger is a natural human emotion, and it can kill you or save your life, depending on how you use it. But you must use it wisely for it to work for you instead of against you.
Next week in Part 2, I’ll go into some ways to tame the tiger and put you in control, ways to allow it to help heal your fears and grow in truth for a well-balanced recovery journey.
I wish you a peaceful week in Sobriety!! Below is my new compilation book now on
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