Anger tends to mess with complex trauma survivors. Of course it does.
Very often, we’ve had nothing but bad experiences with anger.
We’ve seen anger suddenly turn “reasonable” people into out of control, violent people.
We’ve sometimes been punished for daring to express our own anger.
Many people reading this grew up in families in which emotional regulation wasn’t exactly great.
That lack of emotional regulation probably went beyond just anger. You might have grown up in an environment in which feeling ANYTHING meant that a situation could quickly spiral out of control.
When we grew up in families that weren’t great at emotional regulation, it’s very common to end up actually FEARING emotions.
It’s easy for people to say that “in order to heal, you have to FEEL”— because they don’t know what it’ like to become actually FEARFUL of yours and others’ emotional reactions over the years.
We might think of feelings as things we can’t control.
We might think of feelings as things that lead people to do irrational things.
Some people reading this were actually told that the abuse they were experiencing was the result of “love.”
They might have been told that the reason their abuser focused on them was because they “loved” them.
Love doesn’t have anything to do with abuse— but what association is made in our nervous system, we often struggle to see powerful emotions like “love” as anything other than a precursor to confusion or pain.
Some people reading this were told that they were getting abused specifically because they evoked a specific emotion in an abuser, like anger.
We were made to feel that we CAUSED someone else’s emotional state— and that person consequently could not manage or control that emotional state, resulting in us or others getting hurt.
Fast forward to adulthood, and we’re left with an idea of feelings that they are these overwhelming experiences that can be evoked from outside of us— and that rob us of agency, resulting in pain and loss.
Why WOULDN’T we be afraid of emotions, if that’s what we grew up with.
The truth is, emotions are there to help us survive.
Emotions, including (especially!) anger, serve an ADAPTIVE purpose.
Back when we were cave people, it was the cave people who got ANGRY when their territory or resources were being threatened that was able to successfully fight back.
Fast forward to now, if we are cut off from our anger— if we are AFRAID of our anger— we are robbed of an emotional resource that gives us access to focus and energy we NEED to defend ourselves.
The truth is, some things SHOULD make you angry.
We NEED our anger. We have a RIGHT to our anger.
Our anger DOESN’T need to be an uncontrollable, overwhelming experience that puts us or others in danger.
We can break that cycle.
We can be different from what we saw growing up.
We can commit to learning emotional regulation— not because our emotions are scary and need to be reined in, but because our emotions are valuable sources of information that we need to listen to.
If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve been alienated from your emotions, including anger, for long enough.
It’s time to reassert your right to feel— and your ability to not make feelings your ONLY guide to action.