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Managing hurt/anger

(12 Posts)
DubbyDubby Mon 27-Jul-15 16:04:51

Can anyone give some advice on how to manage painful and angry feelings.

My family don't express pain, hurt or anger in 'healthy ways'. We bottle it, swallow it down and blame ourselves instead. Then we drink to ease the pain but of course that doesn't work. Or we bottle it so much we end up feeling bitter and resentful and we withdraw from each other, only to feel worse and isolated.

I'm also aware that I have strong codependency tenancies after growing up with a brother with a chronic mental illness and a mother with alcoholism, so I tend to focus on other people's feelings and helping them, rather than focussing on my own. I've been reading Codependent No More - it's great - a real eye-opener for me. No wonder I end up feeling so resentful in all my relationships.

I don't drink any more and I'm trying to 'allow myself to feel'. Which sounds so simple....

I feel either in pain and angry all the time at the moment. My natural instinct is to repress them and I do this without even thinking, but I know this doesn't work long-term, so I've been trying to find ways to feel them. I've spent the last few weeks feeling completely pent up with pain and rageful feelings. I've written a journal and unsent letters, I've tried to speak to myself compassionately, I've been trying mindfulness and I've read numerous things, all of which help in the short-term but the pent up feelings still come back and I feel so stuck. I'm aware I'm getting more and more snappy with people and have had a few angry outbursts when someone done or said something hurtful or crossed my boundaries. In one way this a relief as I kind of feel glad that I have stuck up for myself rather than swallowed it down like I used to, but then I also know this isn't helpful either. I can't tell when it's okay to be angry with someone else and when isn't because I've never done this before.

I know ideally I need to learn to verbalise this, but it's not always possible. I live in a different country to my family. I don't want to withdraw either as this makes me feel worse.

Please help me. Has anyone else been through something like this? Is there anything else I can try? Or am I just trying to rush a process and this is all part of it? I'm so confused (and pent up!)

Lweji Mon 27-Jul-15 20:43:16

Have you got any professional help at any point?

But in addition to it, it may help you to learn assertiveness. Where you stand up for yourself, and respond, but in an adult manner without anger and without considering it's a personal attack.

Lottapianos Mon 27-Jul-15 20:49:13

I understand completely OP. Processing these sorts of feelings is a skill that needs to be learned. Lucky people are shown by their parents how to do this. My parents are similar to yours and I've had similar issues with alcohol and trying to pretend the feelings don't exist.

The way forward for me had been psychotherapy - impartial, professional support with managing hideous feelings and understanding their impact on me. Its been the most painful thing I've ever done but also by far the best thing I've ever done for myself. In my experience, learning how to cope with these feelings is the only way to genuine peace and contentment. Take care of yourself - its so tough x

pocketsaviour Mon 27-Jul-15 21:01:45

Hi OP,

Don't have a huge amount of practical advice for you but didn't want to read and run as I hear your pain clearly.

I was also taught not to feel my feelings from a very young age, and I have trouble with suppressing anger, in particular. From my teens to my late twenties I drank my feelings; from my late twenties to early forties, I ate them.

I think that it IS a process, and you clearly have a lot of stored up anger and pain that you need to express - express here in the sense of draining infection from a wound, although you may also need to express it verbally or in some other way.

Would you have the budget to work with an experienced therapist? BACP has a listing of therapists and counsellors by location and area of expertise. Some offer sliding scale fees if you're on a low income.

You could also have a look at John Bradshaw's Homecoming. However, it's usually recommended to work through it with a therapist as the exercises in it can be very powerful and cathartic, and can leave you quite shaken. I have been working through it on my own, but I have had a lot of therapy and self-help work in the past.

Good luck and keep posting if it helps, you might find the Stately Homes thread here a good place to post too as we've all come from toxic families.

DubbyDubby Tue 28-Jul-15 13:01:01

Thanks for all your helpful responses.

Yes Lweji, I've been thinking whether learning to be assertive may help. At the moment I feel like everything is personal (even though logically I know it's not) and it's tiring reacting internally to every little thing. To be able to respond calmly and directly without fighting to overcome a massive internal reaction would be incredible. Do you think it's really as simple as learning the skills? Sometimes I feel like I can't think straight enough to consider my options when it's happening as I'm too caught up trying to manage the reaction.

I really struggle to let feelings go too and find myself holding on to past resentments a lot. This is also really tiring and swing between wanting to let things go and then another blast of indignation or pain hits me and I'm back feeling resentful again.

Lottapianos and PocketSaviour yes I think I will consider some therapy. I have had some before, but I think that really just started this process and now I'm further into it I'm starting to struggle. I do find it difficult to allow myself to be 'seen' in my most desperate states, I tend to analyse myself instead, and I do wonder if I will ever allow someone to see those parts of me.

PocketSaviour, I've downloaded a sample of that book onto my Kindle so will have a look. I do think a lot of it has to do with my 'wounded inner child' - even as I read the first few pages I could feel the sadness welling up (which is good I suppose!!)

Tokenjester Tue 28-Jul-15 13:26:16

I was told as a child not to show emotion & to keep quiet - the result being that I am sometimes loud & vocal at times that perhaps I should be more measured. I have found that kinisiology has helped me - one session has pretty much changed my life or at least my responses to it & I feel a calmer me, rather than having inner turmoil dictate my emotions. Hope that makes some sense & not too dippy!

Lottapianos Tue 28-Jul-15 14:19:31

Yes it is extremely, incredibly tiring to analyse yourself like that all the time. I also struggle with letting go and being 'seen' when I'm emotional, I tend to hold things inside because that's what feels safest and that's what I've learned. Those pesky feelings find their way out though - often though snapping at my partner or something equally unfair. It's just not possible to hide them away and make them stop existing.

I do think that feeling, processsing and expressing emotions is a skill that you can learn - it takes time though and can feel quite scary if its something very new for you. Feeling scared and unsure and uncertain in therapy is completely normal though - its a relationship unlike any other, with a person who will (hopefully) see and hear you in a way that maybe no-one else ever has. Good luck with it and take care of yourself - you're going through a lot x

Lweji Tue 28-Jul-15 14:41:00

It's not clear. Do you get the angered reactions with your relatives, or people in general?

I might suggest transactional analysis on how to deal with your role in the exchanges. If you are able to see what role you play ("child", "parent" or "adult") and practice how you can modify your role, it could give you at least a better outcome when dealing with other people.

DubbyDubby Tue 28-Jul-15 15:45:20

Lweji, I get different levels of angry reactions depending on who I am interacting with:

Friends/colleagues - I can create space in these relationships so I find I don't get triggered so much and the feelings are more manageable. However if a friend/colleague makes too many demands on me I can feel it start to build up. I have developed a few boundaries in work which help me to manage my reactions - it's easier in work as I don't end up feeling guilty. With friends I tend to withdraw and then feel guilty/conflicted.

Family/boyfriends - these trigger the most intense reactions - I find these hard to manage or find space. Most of my relationships have ended because I get gradually getting more and more angry and resentful and I just can't bear it any more or see a way out. With family I can react very quickly as I know have harboured resentments over years.

I feel very victim-y once the resentment takes hold and that leads to angry feelings. Do you think perhaps it's because I'm not aware of my own needs?

I'm not sure if that answers your question or not now!

DubbyDubby Tue 28-Jul-15 15:47:16

Tokenjester, thanks for your suggestion. I'm not sure what kinisiology actually is? How did it help you?

DubbyDubby Tue 28-Jul-15 15:52:43

Lottapianos I completely agree it's impossible to hold things inside forever, and I have become worse and worse at it as I've come more into contact with these feelings. It's so hard not to be judgemental of myself when I react. I've also realised I can be quite passive aggressive and manipulative in order to get what I want which just doesn't sit well with me at all.

I suppose it feels like I am uncovering years of crap and it's so hard to take a long hard look at myself, realise I have lots of behaviours which I am ashamed of, fail to change them over and over again, and still find ways to forgive myself and move on.

Tokenjester Tue 28-Jul-15 19:42:14

It's quite difficult to explain kinesiology without it sounding wacky, but I'll have a go! It's a non-invasive technique to clear trapped emotions & negative energy.

The kinesiologist talks to you & asks you questions whilst manipulating your body - see it sounds wacky- but the odd thing is, is that the answers I gave were my true feelings rather than my learnt feelings.

I expressed myself honestly & so have been able to think about my past with fresh eyes. Things that I had no idea had made a massive impact on me but not the things I was expecting; I had a hideously emotionally abusive childhood & became an angry young lady, drug problems & risky behaviour - but now I can see & understand the reasons (not excuses) for it & how it has affected me as an adult. I wish I had discovered kinesiology sooner & saved years of anguish trying to not be the person I thought I was.

& it costs around £40 depending where you are in the country- money well spent!!

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