(You can read here what my body commented shortly before I published this letter)
My dearest anger!
There are people who tell me that I may not feel you. They judge you as if you were something bad that I must get rid of. They suggest that I am resentful when I experience you and must release you in order to have “inner peace” and “be healed.” They make me feel as if you are something wrong, disgusting, even evil that turns me into an unforgiving monster.
They do not want to know about you and WHY I am angry. They are not interested in what I feel. Instead, they give me advice and lecture me. They are afraid to listen to you and understand what you are all about, so they judge you when you appear within or around them and believe that takes care of the problem you pose for them.
In my childhood, a ferocious war was fought against you, which forced me to ban you from my soul and emotional repertoire. Later, I continued this fight against you by myself because I wanted to be as “good and forgiving” – perfect – as everyone expected me to be. I was also turned off from you because I experienced my raging mother as so repulsive and abhorrent that I never wanted to be like her. This was another essential reason why I silenced you. It gave me headaches and other physical symptoms, even illnesses – or I felt miserable, confused, upset and could not sleep. Shutting you out turned me into a servile, submissive slave without her own, true voice who could not speak up and who had no power over her life.
When I was a teenager, I can remember that you used to come out in hidden ways when I was not yet aware of you: I withdrew into silence. I was notorious for not talking to my family for days, even leaving for school without saying good morning. Later, I did this in other relationships too, where – instead of expressing my opinion – I would disappear into the silence that had been enforced upon me in childhood.
Never will I forget my first conscious and horrible encounter with you. I remember it with great sadness, shame and horror because I became what I had always despised – an angry fury just like my mother – that directed her anger against her own child. My son was only three years old and his brother one year old when it happened. I had watched them trough the kitchen window as they played with a wooden swing in the garden. My older son held it in his hands to release it, and then it passed very closely by his younger brother’s head. Furiously, I stormed out and did what I never wanted to do to my children – I beat my oldest son. Although I immediately and sincerely regretted what I had done and kneeled beside him, trying to comfort him – my son, a child who had never been beaten, sobbed for almost an hour, visibly in shock, barely able to breathe. I felt devastated and deeply defeated. My son’s vulnerable, defenseless body and his developing soul had been traumatized. His trust towards me, his own mother, was broken. I cry deeply as I write this, so many years later, thinking about this severe and profound betrayal of my child’s trust and my own values.
I had become an abuser myself because I forgot and forgave the abuses committed by my parents. I had directed my ignored, old, pent-up rage and hatred, actually meant for the abusers, against my powerless child. I followed their example as I used violence and anger to murder feelings – those of my child, as well as my own repressed ones.
My son would have needed my understanding and protection, not this violent outburst of anger that I had never dared to face. A volcano of unacknowledged childhood rage and problems exploded and was the real reason for my cruel action. As the eldest of six, I had been pushed aside more and more, without being allowed to share my feelings of jealousy and my needs for understanding and closeness. I had to become the oldest, reasonable, ideal showpiece that was made to feel responsible for everyone else’s well-being – except her own.
I beat my own child out of the unconscious pain and rage that had remained dormant inside of me and that I could never experience towards my parents and nanny. I beat my own child – in the same way that I had been silenced in my childhood – out of ignorance of my own feelings and suffering, and in order to suffocate my old jealousy that parental neglect and constant mean favoritism had inflamed. My son’s action had reawakened painful feelings – which no one had ever listened to, understood and comforted. The child’s unacknowledged scream of pain, and her wish to get rid of her brothers and sisters so that she could be close to her parents again, had been taken out unjustly and destructively on my son. It was in therapy where I found out why I could not be the mother that I wanted to be – a compassionate protector who would have explained a dangerous situation to her son and listened to him and his feelings.
The more I realized that, despite my strong intentions, I could not be the loving mother that I wanted to be, and as I struggled with a difficult marriage, I entered therapy. Wow, dear anger, did you begin to show up in therapy to enlighten me how terrible and painful my childhood had been and how furious it had made me. I came to realize that you had the power to provide me with the insights, the strength and courage to confront my past, face my reality, assert myself and find and stand up for my needs and values.
I did not use to think that you are my friend and that I can learn from you. I saw you as a dangerous enemy that I needed to extinguish. But how much have I learned from you by now! In therapy, you came alive, thanks to my therapists’ acceptance. It was an empowering, enlightening and liberating experience. It helped me make many changes to my life. Yet, I also had to realize that I could only change myself – not others, not my husbands. You showed me what was unacceptable for me in my first marriage and that I had the human right to take lovingly care of myself and fulfill my needs. You let this awareness steadily grow until it became an inner reality. As I got in touch with my own needs, I became empowered to make an important decision for myself – above all to leave that marriage. You also taught me that I could be a different, braver, freer, saner mother if I rebel against hypocrisy and taking tranquilizers and leave them behind.
During that time, I also began to understand how great your healing power is when I went back for just one session with my first therapist a few years after we had finished our initial work. Soon after, I had an itching, ugly and bright-red rash around my throat that stayed for weeks. Unsuccessfully, I tried every treatment I could find. The rash healed only when I let you express yourself. It went away after I wrote an angry letter to this therapist, which I did not send and which freed a lot of angry questions, above all why I had stayed so long in a difficult, stifling marriage. After I had moved out and began to live by myself, this rash came back twice. Only letters written to that therapist, not to anyone else, would end the rash every time; it has never returned since then. Maybe you felt understood when I finally wrote a letter to this therapist that I sent him; he answered it with feelings of regret and sadness.
You also showed me the way out of my second marriage where I had been caught in a different maze, also created by my childhood, which you eventually helped me see through. Above all, you enabled me to feel and confront the consequences of my nanny’s actions and attitudes towards me. Until you spoke up, I had still idealized her because she had lived with me like my mother for six years until she left when I was seven years old. The enormous pain over this devastating separation, which had emerged so often in therapy, had blinded me. The treasured physical closeness that had lived between her and me – and that had been despised, condemned and not practiced by my mother – had made me believe as a child that this nanny loved me. This child had desperately clung to this belief in her nanny’s love, as well as in my second husband’s love. As a result, I overlooked, even in therapy, how cruel this nanny had been; how she had beaten me mercilessly too; how coldly she had abandoned me because she did not bother to visit me after she had left. I had closed my eyes firmly to very painful experiences with her – until the breakup of my second marriage pulled away a curtain that I had had in front of my eyes for over fifty years.
After I separated from my second husband, you showed up as pain around my left hip – the place where the child had been hit and hurt when she was beaten, not only by hand but even with dress-hangers and a carpet beater. You showed me that these abuses not only meant torture for the child but how they had subjugated her – and had made me, the adult, still go along and comply with the man I loved. You empowered me to realize the consequences of my nanny and parents’ cruelty. Every cruel attack, every mean injustice caused nothing but excruciating feelings of terror, guilt, pain, loneliness and fear, which forced the child into the belief that she was wrong and evil and that it was up to her, and only up to her, to accept the burden of blame and to work things out – by being obedient and following expectations, demands and orders. As I communicated with the pain in my hip, you let me see how people had been cruel to me and how their cruelty had forced me into submission. You could finally voice your protest and rage against the idealized nanny. Thus I recognized and could leave my role as a pleasing servant, which I was forced to become as a child, behind. You sure don’t want me to be a subservient slave without needs, without a voice, without being treated with respect and love. Thank you, dear anger!
After the divorce, the pain around the hip was gone, but when I entertained thoughts of reconnecting with my second husband as friends after the divorce, I had a new pain around my upper left arm. It was the place where the child had been held while being lectured and yelled at. This pain made clear to me how the child had been held back and stopped in her development by angry, arrogant self-righteousness. The lies, which she had been told, forced her into silence, submission and obedience. The pain warned me not to be nice to someone who had become deaf and blind to my feelings and needs. It taught me how my nanny, parents and husbands – even therapists – had been able to tie me to their illusions and lies, and how they could seize the power to hold onto me, to own me and take advantage of my spirit, generosity and aliveness.
The furious, violent outbursts that I had to suffer as a child had held me back and impeded my freedom and life. As I listened to the pain, you spoke up, dear anger, until a debilitating coercion became clear – the compulsion that I had to be nice at any cost and make things “all right” – when others had hurt and deceived me; misled, betrayed and lied to me; treated me without love and respect, without feeling regret and remorse, without showing insight. The child only wanted to feel safe again and be able to believe that she was loved. Instead of realizing what was going on and how she was mistreated, her only goal was to create harmony and win back the “good” nanny or mother that would NOT frighten her.
This old childhood longing wanted to reunite me with an arrogant, ungrateful spouse who had used my generous giving and serving his needs – until he was no longer satisfied with me when illnesses, arising from stress, prevented me from being there for his wishes. I had to recognize a selfish man who sought to control and manipulate me. I had to face that I had been caught again in a childhood trap. It was you, my dear anger, that made it visible to me – and how the horrors of my past had programmed me to tolerate and bear it.
What you have shared with me becomes conscious knowledge, sinks into my awareness and then provides me invaluable information and clear facts. You don’t want me to be a self-less giver who is taken advantage of and treated without respect, love, consideration and caring. Thank you for revealing the truth to me, dear anger!
I have often wondered why you attract so much rejection, resistance and condemnation. Why in the world were you given to me? Clearly, you were given to me for a reason, like all my feelings. They exist to protect me from being hurt and harmed, to guard my integrity, to safeguard my health and my life. My feelings and true needs make me uniquely me, the human being that I am; they create my true self. My feelings work to make sure that my needs are fulfilled. You are clearly meant to show up and have great importance as an authentic reaction of my body, as a most valuable, unveiling and true feeling of mine. Why then do people judge you so harshly?
The condemnation of you began in my childhood, where you, my dear anger, were labeled a crime and mercilessly persecuted. Anger was the sole, exclusive property and inherent domain of parents and other authority figures. I was taught to believe in a God that saw “everything,” threw people into hell, held “final judgments,” and punished with raging, furious anger. Every day of my childhood was full of “final judgments” that damned me into the burning flames of guilt, fear, shame and the horror of my alleged evilness. This God seemed like a super-parent, the extension and almighty supporter of limitless parental power. I was terrified of God – and of the bible’s frightening, intimidating messages, too. Although Jesus condemned strongly those who would make a child stumble and taught that one can only enter the kingdom of heaven if one becomes like a child, it had no impact whatsoever on how I was mistreated.
God and my parents were co-conspirators. They were in a special, chosen class that was free to feel and express anger – towards the powerless. My brothers and sisters and I were the constant victims of anger. I never saw my parents angry with their parents, at God or important authorities. God resembled them: he had unlimited power and used it to go after anyone and anything that displeased him and had less power.
The war of anger against me began before I had access to language and did not yet have any conscious awareness. My mother had already used violence against me when I was a little baby, younger than one year old, as she herself once told me. It is scary and horrible for me to imagine what this early violence did to this tiny body, how it horribly and completely overwhelmed it with absolute powerlessness and tortured it through terror, pain and the anxious anticipation of more pain and fear. This tiny body could not run away, protect itself in any way, was not yet capable of forming words and thoughts; it did not have a consciousness to process anything. This defenseless body, tyrannized and consumed by devastating, crippling feelings, was nothing but feelings. “I feel, therefore I am,” expresses what life’s beginning is like. How desperate must this child’s existence have felt, how hopeless her efforts to figure out why she was beaten and what she could do about it. The experience of anger was out of the question for her. Her anger was murdered and suppressed from the onset as she was confronted with violent parental might. She had no chance to understand in any way what she was supposed to do and what was happening to her. Yet, at the end of her first year, she had fulfilled her mother’s goal that the baby be dry.
Life for this baby was about being attacked, tortured, persecuted and trying to find some way to deal with the pain and terror inflicted on her. She learned early on, through an inconceivable form of violent physical communication, that her life, her feelings and needs – that SHE – did not matter. She was regarded as a thing and treated like a possession that was not supposed to disturb and be a burden for her parents. She had to use all her energy, strength and vitality to focus exclusively on parental demands. She could not peacefully experience herself, be with and get to know herself. She had to earn her existence by serving her parents’ wishes.
If I and you, dear anger, could have been at her side and witnessed my mother attacking this tiny baby, our outrage would have saved this child by taking her into my arms and forever away from this cruel, merciless woman. I would have also let this mother know what I think of her and her barbaric brutality. I would have let her know that she is unfit to be a mother. Often, I wonder why no one was on the side of this beaten, lonely baby, and why it is still legal to do this to babies and children, and to publish books where beating infants can be advised as a good thing. These are nothing but horrendous crimes against life, humanity and mankind.
Anger was judged as wrong only if a child showed it; a child had no right to be angry – only the authorities! They silenced you with harsh condemnations as the damnable crimes of “contradiction,” “willfulness,” “disobedience,” “arrogant impudence” or “inappropriate pretension.” A child’s anger was regarded as a crime, strictly forbidden, punished and persecuted – while my parents’ and nanny’s anger was unleashed against me freely, without control, at any time. Their vicious, violent or conniving, humiliating attacks filled me with deadly fear and ruled my life. They destroyed my self-confidence and robbed me of my ability to analyze reality accurately.
I was terrified and panicked when I was attacked with violence, which always expresses anger and hatred. It is such a sick lie that violence can be administered “without anger” as some proponents of violence towards children have the brazen chutzpah to defend their cruelty and hide the truth. In my childhood, you could not help me unmask this inhumanity, much less end it. Any protest of the defenseless, helpless, powerless child would have put her only in even greater danger. The beatings and threatening lectures that I suffered as a child terrorized me. When they happened, I only wanted to again feel safe and close to the attacker, whom I could never have recognized as a perpetrator. As you, my anger, were not allowed to live, I could not feel and thus see through that I was a victim, abused with inhuman violence. Out of that darkness of despair and confusion, the longing for let all be “well again,” let the relationship be “nice again,” grew into an overwhelming addiction.
Adults were unshakably convinced that they were entitled to their anger, which they conveniently labeled and excused as “for your own good.” They believed that they had the God-given right to criticize, put down, humiliate, punish, yell and scream, even to beat a child and thus endanger her physical safety and integrity. While they vented their own anger uninhibitedly – they forbid the child’s anger, demanded self-control from her and lectured her that she must “pull herself together.” They claimed that I deserved their cruelty and that the crimes of their physical and verbal violence committed against me were well deserved and based exclusively on MY very own guilt and faults. They sold me their tyrannical cruelty as a self-righteous, destructive lie that extinguished all compassion for myself and devastatingly confused and brainwashed my mind. They seemed like saints who could do not wrong and who were free from any responsibility for themselves, their actions and feelings. They made it impossible for me to be on my side.
Yet, had I ever dared to hit another child, I would have been lectured and punished for this evil deed – for the exact same evil deed that marked my childhood and that I had to endure and suffer on a regular basis. As a child, I could not see through this repulsive hypocrisy. I never could have thought: “Who lectures and punishes the adults when they spank or hit weaker, vulnerable human beings? Who beats them when they make mistakes? Why do those powerful authorities even have the might and right to invent on a whim all sorts of sins and to arbitrarily make up supposed mistakes?”
The child’s feelings and needs, above all her anger, were the ultimate sins. All the time, my parents and nanny were bent on finding reasons to reproach the child – but no one ever tried to listen to, understand and care for her. How could a child ever escape the maze of this cunning power play, this dangerous, brutal and insane abuse of power?
It became my way of life in childhood to forgive injustice without recognizing and protesting against it. I had no choice but to go along with shouldering unjust blame and bowing to lies, manipulations and violence. The adults were always right – the child was automatically presumed and declared guilty. Without that understanding and forgiveness were granted to her, the child was forced to believe, day in and day out: “I am wrong and I do everything wrong.” It became her unheard, buried and deepest inner agony that emerged as her fundamental, most painful wound in therapy.
No one saw this child’s suffering; no one protected her; no one was on her side to speak up against the horrors that she had to endure. On the contrary, everyone demanded of her that she cave in and endure the injustices committed against her with eternal kindness – always forgiving the powerful, her parents and nanny, willingly anything that they did to her. She loved them and wanted nothing but their love and kindness for which she did anything she could, including carrying the cross of immense guilt feelings that never should have been her burden. But her love, selfless giving and sacrifices were not answered. Violent cruelty sentenced her to a hopeless existence in the dark dungeon of loneliness, fear, shame, blame and isolation, without dignity and respect.
In childhood, there was only one way to survive – accept, excuse and go along with aggressive, inhuman actions and attitudes. But later, in adulthood, there was a way out! You changed my life, dear anger, as you let me see through lies, debunk and rebel against vitriolic power-plays and empowered me to become clear and strong. You gave me the ability to say no when I was not treated with respect. You gave me the insight and wisdom to withdraw from unhealthy relationships as you revealed past and present realities to me.
Neither as a child nor for years as an adult could I realize what you have taught me – that it was NOT I – but my parents’ and nanny’s behavior, which was resentful, wrong, unforgiving, out of control and evil. It spoke of nothing but of the misuse of power, arrogance and cruelty. Those who preached forgiveness did not practice forgiveness. They felt superior, powerful, even almighty and always justified when they could punish, degrade and unleash their anger against weak and helpless human beings, which they even enjoyed. THEY were the ones who carried grudges and had a huge problem with anger. Their souls and minds were not accessible, not open for insight. They could not communicate truthfully and openly.
The more you were allowed to come out in therapy, the more you showed me how this system of inhuman madness had manipulated the child, destructively imprinted me, and how it still persecuted me as an adult by filling me with self-loathing and self-hatred. You revealed to me how it had programmed me to always blame myself, to experience every problem and life adversity as the result of only MY irremediable guilt and harrowing innate badness. It was the goal of all black pedagogy that I had to submit and obey without a will of my own. Adults were entitled to have a will – not children. This was demonstrated by a notorious childhood doctrine that I had to hear over and over again. It is still etched clearly in my memory:
“Children with their own will and mind - must be hit on their behind.”
Adults never admitted mistakes, never were sorry – they were always right. They had the law and justice on their side. There was no one to defend a child. Every criminal is entitled to a lawyer in court. The unjust law of my childhood united in my parents and nanny the prosecutors, judges and executers of a strict penal system where the accused had no right to an attorney and a fair hearing, had to stay silent and was not entitled to an opinion and to defend him or herself. A child had no human and legal rights – and children still do not have them.
The horrible result was that I became terrified of life and any conflict. I did not have a voice. I could not speak up for what I saw, thought and felt. I was prevented from having needs of my own and had no chance to fulfill them. For years, I was convinced that I was incapable to resolve problems, so I never dared to address and deal with them. I had to disregard you, my dear anger and good, precious friend, as well as my other feelings and true needs. The only feelings permitted in my childhood were gratefulness, pity, admiration and adoration for my parents and God. The only needs permitted were those that parents, nannies, religion and schools endorsed and fostered. For years, I believed that my needs consisted of going along with what others demanded and expected from me.
For the longest time, I could not live true to myself, and so I missed my life. I was programmed to bury my head in the sand, to believe the authorities blindly and to serve and follow them like a slave. I needed your powerful vitality and insights and the support of therapy to claim my true self and my life. As it had been always I, who had to shoulder the burden of guilt and forgiveness, I had been forced to believe that I was wrong and resentful if I dared to express a differing, my own point of view, when I spoke up and protested and when I did not want to continue relationships, above all the one with my parents. When you expressed yourself in therapy, you showed me the way out of this madness! You became my ally and friend that enables me to recognize people for who they really are – instead of blindly accepting how they want me to see them and wish to be seen in their self-centered ways. You encouraged me to become aware of how I was treated. You saved me from devoting my energy to longing for and attempting to reach people who have hurt and harmed me – all the more if they feel no regret, remorse and show no insight.
I am so grateful to you, my dear anger, that you empowered me to walk the path of dignity and being true to myself. Deep inside, I had always longed for it. You do not want to control me or run my life – but protect me and help me become aware of reality and my truth. All that you ever needed, and still need from me is that I listen to you, respectfully and carefully, so that I may apprehend your message – then you pass. You have the ability and power to show me what is wrong in my life and what was wrong in my past – until I can comprehend it and make the necessary changes to improve my life and claim my freedom.
Although you only come at times to share with me what you realize, others seem to believe that I have a problem with anger if I allow myself to explore you. They judge me if I try to understand you and want to learn from you. They put you into the category of so-called “bad emotions” that must be “released.” They even condemn you – although you have so much to tell, above all about a human being’s childhood!
Many people, religions, ideologies and societies consider themselves forgiving, just and humane – yet they have beliefs that are filled with resentment and prejudice that encourage their followers, even give them the permission, to hate others and to act revengefully. They present as truth intolerant, even hateful beliefs about “others” that have not harmed them but refuse to go along with their limiting, authoritarian creeds. They use their beliefs to justify cruel, vindictive deeds and the defamation and condemnation of others, also after they have died.
So-called spiritual beliefs pride themselves with having overcome religious dogma. But they cling to vague, impalpable and indefinable guidelines for “salvation” and a better life, which often stem from ancient traditions that also have served the denial of feelings and the violent treatment of the most vulnerable humans beings. These traditions neither recognize the origins of so-called “bad emotions” nor the importance of anger and all human feelings. They suppress the most valuable and essential information, which feelings provide about the true nature and unique individuality, history and development of every human being. They condemn above all anger and hatred as “negative feelings” and advise forgiveness as the panacea for healing all sorts of social ills, of conflicts and of one’s relationships, especially the one with one’s parents. But does that work? Are you, dear anger, without meaning, use and value? Are you simply an error, a mistake, a crazy whim of nature that we can push aside and bury – without looking at it, without consequences for doing so?
It makes sense to understand forgiveness as giving up revenge. But anger cannot be for-given or willed away – only understood. I have made the experience when so-called “negative emotions” are being listened to, that the desire for revenge and unjustified, blind hatred passes, as people can understand their anger and its origins.
Many spiritual beliefs want us to overcome “negative emotions” and tell us that only “positive emotions” are helpful. A famous spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, teaches: “We must also realize that these negative emotions are not only very bad and harmful to one personally, but are also harmful to society and the future of the whole world.”
Yes, I agree, taking out anger and hatred on innocent others, above all on powerless children, is a dangerous, despicable crime that creates violence, anger and hatred from the cradle on – and never, ever peace. Violence against children breeds nothing but violence. But I disagree that anger can simply vanish through meditation.
Anger that has been understood empowers us to break away from the destructiveness we suffered in childhood; appreciate our feelings and needs and thus love ourselves; define our true own values; work to make them come true; claim our humanity and dignity; and embrace our calling. It gives us the courage and strength to speak truth to power. It lets us become engaged to end violence against innocent others, above all defenseless children – who still, in our day and age, must suffer hopelessly as the victims of so much undeserved, irresponsible, unjustified parental not-understanding, cruelty, abuse and injustice. The greatest, most dangerous, destructive and damaging unlimited might of our time lies in the hands of a child’s parents.
Anger and hatred do not disappear if we wish and force them away. In her important, fascinating article “What is Hatred?” Alice Miller writes: “I too believe that hatred can poison the organism, but only as long as it is unconscious and directed vicariously at substitute figures or scapegoats.” (The article can be found on her website alice-miller.com at this link: http://www.alice-miller.com/articles_en.php?lang=en&nid=53&grp=11)
Repressed, unacknowledged emotions of anger and hatred create nothing but havoc and destruction from the underground. We must understand not only the origins and the reasons for these strong feelings, but also the traumas and truths that these feelings ask us to uncover. The world will become a less angry and hateful place once mankind – finally awoken from its ancient blindness towards the suffering of children – prevents parents, teachers, religious teachers and other authority figures from beating into and taking out on defenseless children – entrusted to their protection, love and care – unaware, suppressed emotions in the name of discipline, education and “for your own good.”
The UNO resolution of 1996 demands that we must regard children as human beings with the human right to live and grow up without violence and in dignity. Violence, inflicted on the youngest, most vulnerable human beings, destroys the healthy development of their tender, most vulnerable brains, which grow dramatically over the first years of life. Cruel and neglectful mistreatment damages the formation of an intact, healthy brain that can feel compassion – for one’s own suffering and the suffering of others, especially those of children.*(see footnote) Such undiscerning, unabashed brains will not stop to justify violence against children, be it labeled euphemistically as spanking, slaps and discipline. Jordan Riak at "Nospank" writes about his list of synonyms for spanking in the brochure: “Plain Talk about Spanking.” (It can be found at nospank at this link: http://www.nospank.net/pt2007.htm.)
I used to feel guilty when I experienced you inside of me, dear anger, because I felt that you turned me into something that I did not wish to be, either a bad child or a bad, worthless adult. When you appeared, I used to believe that something was terribly wrong with me. I felt ashamed to be like my mother. But when people tell me now that you are bad and serve no purpose, I feel how you emerge strongly. You are not in favor of ignoring you through deceitful techniques like “meditation,” “being centered”, a forced “inner peace,” “releasing you” and “forgiveness.” You respond and protect me now when people label me as “resentful,” “not recovered,” “unforgiving” or “not free” when I talk about or show you.
I have come to realize that those who preach forgiveness and condemn anger are often deeply troubled by their own unrecognized anger. They refuse to become aware of their judgmental, disrespectful attitudes, their problems with anger and the hurt and harm they inflict on others. I think that they actually are afraid of you, dear anger, and of what you would tell them about their history and lives. They deny others their feelings and don’t want to know about them. They sell their denial, disguised in the deceiving gown of forgiveness that claims to be “free from anger and hatred,” as a panacea for healing. But it does not work, as their often destructive or self-destructive actions sadly demonstrate.
Then there are those many destroyers that abuse you, dear anger, to hurt, degrade, intimidate, terrorize and devastate others. They believe in their right to act out from rageful, revengeful, manipulative and arrogant parts, not willing to acknowledge how their dammed up, unacknowledged pain and suppressed fears are concealed and silenced by their rage. When furious, self-righteous and judgmental parts, formed and deeply imprinted by abusive programmings internalized during childhood, take over and work to destroy relationships and the truth, you must serve destructive perpetrators, their lies and manipulative hypocrisy all over again. These parts' beliefs and feelings are not authentic and true. Instead, they are still deeply mired in the devastating guilt-mongering of poisonous pedagogy and early psychoanalytic techniques: devoid of compassion; blaming, analyzing and condemning the victim; annihilating his or her rights and the truth through self-centered, know-it-all aggression and cruelty; and distorting an honest and clear view of reality through the conceited, unjust and know-it-all complacency of the perpetrator. (More about acting out from rageful parts: "Escape from the fog of admiration" and "Insights about therapy and IFS therapy."
Dear anger, it took me a long time to realize your importance and to welcome you. By now, our relationship has changed; you have become my friend. As I communicate with the physical or emotional ways in which my body expresses old pain, you reveal deeper and deeper levels of how the horrors of my childhood have misguided and imprisoned me and tied me to destructive people.
My experiences with you are fascinating and enlightening. When I respectfully listen to you – or can talk about you with someone who can understand and hear me, and share why I am angry – then I know that you are relieved because you can express yourself and feel understood.
When I have heard you, you calm down and give me inner peace. What you have revealed to me becomes a fact. You enable me to see reality without blinders. You grant me clarity about my past and present life. You have endowed me with self-confidence. You empower me with strength. Today, I can treat the powerless with respect and compassion and speak truth to power. Today I know that all feelings transmit most important information if we respect them and are open for them.
© Barbara Rogers, January 2007
* Footnote: In his book "Base Instincts," Jonathan Pincus writes about the development of a baby's brain:
"Why is the immature nervous system so susceptible to environmental stimulation or the lack thereof? At birth, human infants are completely helpless. They can breathe and their hearts beat, but they cannot sit, crawl, walk, speak, or reason. About all they can do is eat, sleep, and cry. This is because the brain has not matured yet, even though the number of nerve cells is complete. During the course of childhood, nerve cells in the brain begin to make contacts with other nerve cells, advancing the process of myelination. This refers to the deposition of a fatty insulation material that covers nerve fibers; without it they cannot carry electrical impulses and therefore cannot contact other cells. Myelination of the back of the brain, the occipital lobes, is nearly complete at birth. Gradually,myelination advances forward, with the frontal lobes the last to be fully myelinated. The process of myelination is not complete until about twenty years of age.
"The immature nervous system is like a forest of young saplings. The number of trees is about the same in youth and maturity – but what a difference the full development of roots, branches, and boughs makes to the forest as a whole! If the environment is too cold, dry, wet, shaded, or lacking in nutrition, the woods will not develop to the limit of genetic potential of its trees or their adaptation will be screwed.
"Like the trees of the forest, the nerve cells of an infant respond to the sensory stimuli of the environment. Children learn what is happening around them and the development of their nervous system is dependent on the quality and quantity of sensory stimulation. Scans of severely neglected children have shown that certain parts of their brains are underdeveloped. Studies indicate that if a baby is not held and touched and spoken to and given all the sensory stimuli that are manifestation of parental love, part of the child's brain is not organized properly. The brain wiring of a baby who has been neglected or abused is probably abnormal, less dense, less complete."
© Barbara Rogers, January 2007
read also: "my anger is my lover" from "screams from childhood"
back to "Screams from Childhood"