For the past six weeks or so I have been working with an intuitive healer on a weekly basis. She and I also meet weekly to work together on our businesses, and this is how I started seeing her for her services. Before I was officially her client she was telling me that I have anger I need to process about certain situations, and I have struggled and struggled with finding and feeling that anger.
I think that between my unofficial training in my family of origin to care for everyone else’s needs and my training as a psychotherapist I have always rationalized away my anger. I will feel hurt instead of angry, or I will be able to understand and have compassion for why the person acted the way they did and then I don’t feel justified to be angry.
There is a saying in the profession that hurt people hurt people, so I usually can look through the action and see the hurt person underneath. Then it wouldn’t be “nice” to be angry, instead I should feel sorry for them and their struggles. Unfortunately this leaves my own emotions disowned and unacknowledged. I stay in my head about it and don’t allow myself to feel how I really feel.
As I’m writing this just now, I also realized that feeling hurt puts me in the victim position (wow – never thought of myself as a victim before, I’m a pretty strong person), where feeling angry is more of a feeling of power and action. How dare you! I’m not going to be treated this way!
Anyway, yesterday I was feeling tweaked by my ex-husband again. We have been divorced for 11 years but are going through a change in custody of our son. There is a history of deception and manipulation and downright vindictiveness on his part. For many years following the divorce I acquiesced to most things to avoid the fight (whoops – there’s that victim role again), until about four years ago when our differences about what was best for our son became too great and I started standing up to him.
Needless to say he did not like this, nor expect it given that I trained him into believing that he could manipulate or bully me into getting his way. Even after my two victories in court since then, he still hasn’t made the transition and tries to cajole or threaten me into agreeing with him.
Yesterday I received more documents about the process and even though there was nothing in these documents to get upset about, just thinking about dealing with him sends me into extreme anxiety. I’m so tired of feeling fearful about anything to do with him. The reality is that he cannot hurt me in any meaningful way, and every time he has pushed it to court, the judge has sided with me. So why do I feel this way?
My former therapist said that it is a way of protecting myself. He is not to be trusted and feeling anxious every time something related to him comes up reminds me of this. But I think I could remember that he is not trustworthy without all the anxiety!
Yesterday after this happened I was meeting with my intuitive healer friend about our businesses. I mentioned how I was feeling to her, and she said that I had anger about him that needed to be expressed. I sighed. She keeps telling me about my anger and I have so much trouble getting in touch with it. I just don’t feel it.
She suggested talking out loud when I was in the car. I didn’t do this because I didn’t think I could really express myself when others could see me, but I did start thinking about what I would say to him in my head while I was driving home.
When I got home I just started talking out loud as if he were here and I was giving him a dressing down. At first it felt kind of weird and it took me a little while to build up some steam. Eventually I was calling him every name in the book, telling him I wasn’t going to stand for it anymore, saying all the things that I would like to have said to him over the past eleven years, but never have.
I was a little surprised at how much I had to say; this went on for about ten minutes. It never got extremely intense. For instance, I was never shouting although I was talking loudly and stridently. It felt good to get it all out there. Part of what I said was that I was not going to allow him to affect my life any more. By this I meant I am not going to allow myself to get thrown off track with anxiety whenever I have to deal with him in some way.
I know there is more to do in this area, twenty years (that’s how long ago we were married and of course there are things from the marriage I’m also angry about) of suppressed anger is not released in ten minutes. I am thankful for my friend insisting over and over that I had unexpressed anger even though I kept denying it. And I am thankful for the experience of getting in touch with that anger. I now know a way to do it that works for me. My intention going forward is whenever I feel anxious to ask myself if there is suppressed anger that needs to come out.