A few months ago during a therapy session, I was recalling a particular traumatic event. “Where is the anger?” my therapist asked. I was dumbfounded. I told her I didn’t know. I went on to explain that I learned a long time ago to let it go. It was a survival skill. To forgive was to heal. Holding on to anger was unhealthy….
Blah Blah Blah!!!
She was right! Where is the anger for all the horrible things I’ve endured? Abuse, abandonment, rape….why wasn’t I mad?
The following weeks I sporadically tried to get in touch with this emotion and had little results. It was really difficult for me. I had anger that seeped out in self destructive ways throughout my life; but to sit and feel it and process it was another story.
I pondered on it and discovered a few therapy sessions later, that I never had an environment where I was allowed to express anger. I grew up with an abusive grandmother, and an alcoholic father who you didn’t mess with. I also had my mom, but she was usually too depressed or overwhelmed to deal with such matters. Growing up it isn’t quite encouraged, it’s actually discouraged. Parents frown upon children throwing tantrums or raising their voices. Disciplinary action usually follows. In situations such as abuse, and being raped, of course, you learn that anger only causes more pain. So, you bury it, forget it and try to move on.
Then a few weeks ago. I found some anger and it came from a completely surprising source. My mom. My best friend. I wanted to be angry at abusers and attackers, not my mom; but, you can’t pick that stuff. Whatever needs to be healed will present itself. I was in therapy recalling childhood, and remembered at least one incident where my dad was kind of ragging on my mom, and encouraged me to laugh along with him. I would and then I felt terribly guilty, I was only 5-6yrs old and I didn’t fully understand what was happening; but it didn’t feel good. I would sneak away from my dad’s side to find my mom crying in the other room. I remember apologizing and wanting to hold her, and/or needing to be held myself. She would calmly mumble, “ya, it’s okay” and continue to cry. I don’t remember being or feeling close to my mom before my parent’s divorce. She was robotic and depressed. My therapist explained to me that not having that mother/child bond while that young is most detrimental to the psyche. I cried, and cried, and cried some more.
It took a few weeks for it to all sink in. I fought believing that my mom wasn’t there for me. It couldn’t be true. I did not want to dishonor her by being angry. Then, the flood gates opened and it all made sense. I was angry. I was angry she was too depressed to be there for me when I was a little child. I was angry she left me to take care of my brother and sister, even though I was proud of her as she worked two jobs to take care of us, it was still okay to be angry. I was angry she left us in my grandmother’s care, even after we talked about the abuse that I and come to find out she too suffered from. I was angry she was often too tired and depressed to hear about our days. I was angry that I became her best friend but not her daughter. I was angry when she confided in me that she took a bottle of pills and wanted to die. I was angry that she never let me express these feelings of frustration. I was selfish, or just like my father, or she couldn’t handle it right now. I was angry she never quit smoking cigarettes, no matter how much we begged. I was angry that she got lung cancer, and never talked about her feelings about it. I was angry she left me. I was angry and it felt good. It felt like I had been carrying that in my body for along friggin time, and it felt good to let it go.
As I got in touch with the anger, I simultaneously processed guilt, love and grief. I loved my mother more than anything in the world. She was my best friend. Was she perfect? Nope. She fucked up a lot. I think the worst was she didn’t allow me to verbalize any of these feelings. My mom had depression, even though we didn’t have a name for it at the time. I now understand depression, and more than sympathize. Getting in touch with the anger was a good release; but, my love for her is still stronger. I miss her everyday.
I am still processing all of the memories and allowing myself to feel them, then I will gather the anger, the love and the grief and put it all in a big bubble, thank it and release it.