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.



5 thoughts on “Anger

  1. Anger is a funny thing…I know my anger stretches far and long once the flame is put to it. It isn’t healthy to hold it in though. So I think it is a good thing that you are taking a steps towards releasing it. No, it is not a neat process. Yes, you probably will get angry with them again and even if it is not over the same incidents, it will probably be enough to light that old pile of poo that is still cooling from all of the years of burning. So no, it is not moving backwards or meaning that you moved on too soon and yes it might make room for anger in other places but that is just a step towards healing. It is hard to hate someone for so long and then try to love them. It takes time to get your body to release the proper chemicals to bring out the emotions that your heart may want. Especially if they are always used to bringing out anger. My hairdresser burned the hell out of me with the curler and to this day when she whips it out, I can’t focus. I start to sweat, I cringe, I start holding my breath….I want to be calm and I repeat to myself over and over agin to be calm but….sometimes your body can’t help the things it does in defense mode. Whether it is acting to defend your body, mind or soul. So, in my opinion as long as you are moving towards resolution and not letting the side “fires” bring you back to a place of hate, you are doing fine! Extinguish them and keep moving towards a path of love and then spread your philosophy and maybe we can all end up having a love in like they did in the 70’s….minus the free sex. I ain’t down with that! LOL.

  2. I havent read all the replies, but for me anger serves as a protection barrier. It reminds me that this person is only out to hurt me.

    Without going into details. Many of my family members have hurt me repeatedly over and over and over relentlessly. Each time they apologize and “try to move on” and each time they turn on me again.

    The memories bring up anger which in turn causes me to protect myself and family from them. Honestly i don’t want to stop being angry at them. Each time prior as soon as i relaxed and let the anger go they hurt me again.

    I am actually faced with this decision right now as a sibling of mine has approached me “wanting to fix things”. It is tempting i have to admit but i can already see the same symptoms of underhandedness. I know what their true objective is. I’ve observed and had this game played on me long enough. The anger helps me to protect my family from what i can forsee happening.

    History has proven that an enemy will quite often feign apology in order to bring down your walls to hurt you again.

    Be careful lexi. It’s ok to drop your anger to move to the next step of healing but keep an eye out for trojan horses.

  3. “It’s ok to drop your anger to move to the next step of healing but keep an eye out for trojan horses.” mc_mutt

    God does tell us in the Bible in Eph 4:26, 27 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.

    God knows we’re going to get angry (and we have right to under many circumstances) because He also gets angry and we are made in His image But He asks that we don’t dwell on it. We need to make peace with ourselves. He flat out tells us to move on.

    As it goes on, He tells us further in Eph 4 to put away our sins. And at last, He tells us “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.”

    I know it is a very difficult thing to forgive someone who has stolen something precious from you. BUT, he says to do it, which means it can be done…after all, when we go to God and repent, He forgets the whole thing has ever happened (don’t know how He does it, but i wish i could do the same sometimes).

    Even though He wants us to not stay angry and to forgive those who have wronged us, I think we are able to remember what happened to us for different reasons. I think one of those reasons we don’t forget, is so that we can protect ourselves, our family, and our friends from what we’ve been through. And that, Lexi, is what you’re doing. You talk to many different people about their tragedies and you show them that they can get past it.

    I must say that i’m proud of you and I’m very glad that God has you in my life 🙂 There is much to learn from you.

  4. My own experience with anger — at least the one that stands out the most right now — is one in which I did not allow myself to feel the anger that I should have felt. What resulted was acting out in other destructive ways and a huge mess that altered my whole life. I tend to hold things in, and that’s not good at all.

    I celebrate your anger and the fact that you allowed God to take you through the process. We know that anger is a healthy and normal emotion when it is felt, learned from, and let go. We get into trouble when we hold on to anger and let it take root and become bitterness. Anger should be a visitor, not a roommate.

    At 32, I am learning to feel things, anger included. I’ve spent the better part of the last 28 years not feeling. It hasn’t served me well.

    I’m concerned for McMutt. I wonder what difference it would make if you could heal to the place where you can enforce your boundaries with these people while not holding on to such draining emotions for them. Trust me, I know how family can bruise, tear down, and destroy our hearts. And it sounds like these are still fresh wounds. But my prayer for you is that you can come to a place where you protect your family and feel no bitterness at the same time. For me, it has taken years, so I am fully aware that it is indeed quite a process.

  5. Kris, I like the idea of extinguishing the fires before they breed more hate. That’s key for me. Which brings me to MC’s comments.

    MC, I hear ya in a lot of ways. I may not know all the details, but I know a lot of your story and it makes ME angry. So first let me validate that. But I do want to clarify what I mean about letting mine go. For me letting the anger go has NOTHING at all to do with the folks who hurt me. It’s NOT letting them off the hook are acting like it’s all ok and we can make nice and skip into the sunset. I’ve chosen to release anger, not boundaries. If people are unsafe, they’re unsafe! Whether that’s physically, emotionally, spiritually, whatever…And we are wise to limit the access and affect others’ choices have on our lives and the lives of those we are supposed to protect (ie, your kids).

    I don’t think my anger protected me from the people who hurt me, but it motivated me to make choices to help me heal (which often has meant keeping my distance from certain people.)

    It’s funny. I had an amazingly pleasant dinner conversation with one of my offenders recently. It was public, in a group (built in boundaries) and I felt safe. Though he isn’t one of the individuals I refer to in this post, I’m over being mad at him. He may change. Maybe he has, who knows? I won’t leave MY kids with him. But I could get through dinner with out fear, without shame, without anger and to me, that spells healing in capital letters.


    I agree with you about forgiveness. One thought: I don’t for a second consider my anger sin (not implying that you do either). I KNOW I have sinned in my anger many times, but I am confident that the anger in and of itself has purpose, purpose in healing. And for that I am thankful.

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