Have you ever consciously made a decision to stop being angry at someone? It’s a lot easier said than done and so much more goes into such a decision than I ever could have imagined. It has made me stop to consider the value of anger and how it serves in the process towards resolution, in the process of healing. Usually if I’m going to tackle something like this pubicly I’ve given it much consideration and perhaps even pre-writing in my journal, but this time I haven’t. This is fresh in my mind at the moment and I am writing it as it occurs to me.
Today I made a decision that I am tired of being angry with two significant people in my life. (I realize as I am preparing to write this next sentence, that I am encumbered by the fact that I know that there are many who believe I should have come to this place long ago–I disagree with them vehemently and here’s why.) They are people that I believe I spent too little time over the course of many, many years being angry with. Not allowing myself to feel anger protected me from having to acknowledge the reality of significant vicitmization and betrayal. Getting to the place where I could get angry marked significant personal growth, healing, and ability to begin to take responsibility for my life instead of just letting life happen to me. Anger has been a turning point, a crucial time for me to consider my worth, my value, my humanity and therefore my vulnerability.
I am a sexual assault survivor. I have had numerous perpetrators. My vicitmization began at age seven and continued into my adult life (although not with the same offender). This reality has shaped my life in ways I am aware of, and in ways that become more apparent with time. I heard someone say today that survivors never “get over” being sexually assaulted. It is so true. You never “get over” it. But I have gotten through a lot of the pain and healing and I am ready to get on with surviving my trauma. I want to see my victimization in my rear-view mirror and embrace it as a part of what has helped me to become the person I am today and as an element of my story that will help me connect with others who’ve been victimized and offer hope. But (and this is a big but) I want to be careful not to tie this up in this happy-clappy little bow and be like, “All things happen for a reason (for my good) and I thank God for my all sexual abuse and rape!” ‘Cuz that’s so not what I’m saying here.
And, though I am careful not to say the word “should” in this post, I also want to be careful not to imply that anyone should deal with their trauma in any particular way, particularly the way I’m dealing with mine. I hope that’s clear….back to anger.
As much as anger has helped me to heal, I feel like it’s now standing in the way of further healing. Anger has helped me to “get it”, to see what has happened to me for what it is. There are still places where I struggle to “get it”, but anger has helped me play things over and over in my head, in my mouth, in my journal, in my blog, in my poetry, etc. enough times to really see the picture that I needed to see of what has happened to me. Although, I still struggle to get what this means for my body, I think. I feel a disconnect between what has happened to me and what happened to my body. I think it has impacted how I view my body. As you can imagine, my body stopped being mine and sacred long before I realized that it was…well, mine and sacred. I think I still feel disconnected from that sense of value for my body. It’s weird. To a large degree I still feel desensitized in this area. And, I wonder how that impacts how I treat my own body, what I fear, or what I don’t fear. I think anger has paved the way, but now stands in the way of me dealing with these questions that I need to ask of myself. My anger has been about the abusers. I’m done with them. They are who they are. They’ve done what they’ve done. Maybe they’ll change. I actually hope for redemption for them, but that’s out of my hands. Choosing to let go of anger frees me to delve deeper into the me stuff. I’m ready to do that.
Does this seem insane? It probably is insane to be blogging about it, but I need feedback as I’m processing this and I HATE repeating myself. This is the perfect forum to say it once to everybody and then just respond to the feedback. LOL. Hey, I’m a cracked pot. What can I say?
Has anyone else ever sat back and thought about the role that anger plays in our healing? I’d love to hear what you’ve learned, felt, experienced.
And, there are still those who have had a hand in my vicitmization that I have been unable to feel anger towards. Not perpetrators, but people with secondary responsibilty
(those who failed to protect or chose not to see). That concerns me because I think it points to some denial I still have about those relationships. But, Rome wasn’t built in a day, was it?
I wonder what my struggles will be once I release the anger I’ve had for these 2 people in particular. Does it mean I’ll never feel angry at them again? If I do, will I be moving backwards? Will it signify that I moved on too soon? Is any of this really that neat? (I know the answer to that one!) Will it make room for anger in other places?
Well, that’s it. Today I’m giving anger a second thought, and think I’m done being angry. I’m ready to heal past the anger. I’m anxious to know what’s coming next. And oddly, I’m afraid that I’ll fail at giving up my anger (maybe not so oddly).
Oh well. Here’s to healing.