What Is My Anger Telling Me? By Christina Enevoldsen

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Overcoming Sexual Abuse

I am excited to have my good friend and guest blogger Christina Enevoldsen from “Overcoming Sexual Abuse” writing once again for Emerging from Broken today while I am enjoying my vacation in Mexico.  As always please feel free to add your comments, share your experiences and post your feedback in the comments section following Christina’s article.

Darlene Ouimet, founder of emerging from broken

What is My Anger Telling Me?  by Christina Enevoldsen

I used to have a persistent fantasy of stabbing my mother in the face. It came to me in sudden flashes accompanied by adrenaline surges.  The recurring image of something so horrific was quite disturbing.  I’d never consider doing anything like that; blood makes me nauseous and even hurting someone’s feelings bothers me.  If I imagined doing something like that, did it make me like my abusers? 

                                                                             It was hard to admit something so awful, even to myself.  I was taught not to ‘entertain negative thoughts’ and conditioned to judge my anger.  The prescribed method for handling such unpleasantness was to ignore it and to think about nice things—nice things like envisioning treating my mom to a facial or stroking her hair.  Imagining loving things while I had so much anger flowing through me was impossible. The frequency and intensity of those thoughts wouldn’t allow me to discount them. Besides, I’d closed my eyes to things long enough and that wasn’t getting me anywhere. I had to face those awful images head-on.  

 I had to own my desires, face them without criticizing myself and find out their source.

Where did that come from?  What purpose did the desire serve?  What was the significance of destroying my mother’s face?  The fantasy was an important clue in my healing process.  By examining it closely, I discovered the reasons why. 

 I remembered an incident from my childhood sexual abuse.  I was alone with my dad in my parent’s bedroom. My mom took great care in decorating the whole house, but especially their room.  The bedding matched the drapes, which coordinated with the carpet.  Everything was specially chosen.  I sat on the edge of a raised platform that was designed to elevate their bed and make it the focal point of the room. My dad sat on the floor across from me with his collection of Playboy magazines spread out next to him. During the abuse, I looked up at the drapes and thought, even in my fourth grade mind, that appearances were all that mattered to my mom. She could make the house look like a palace, but it would always be a dungeon to me.

 My mom was more interested in image than reality. She chose the happy family facade rather than protecting me. My slashing fantasy was an expression of my hated for her effort to make everything look nice, rather than making it nice.  Her face represented the image that was so important to her. 

 By ignoring the unpleasant, scary flashes, and replacing them with more acceptable images, I was doing the same thing my mom did—I was decorating over the horror.  My desire was a messenger, communicating my specific area of hurt.  Paying attention to my anger allowed me to resolve it.  The only way to resolve it was to acknowledge it and clean it out. 

 Once I identified where my anger was coming from, it was easier to process it in a healthy way.  I expressed my anger by journal writing, letter writing, (some I sent and some I didn’t), talking it out with friends, crying, shouting and pounding my bed.  I worked through it until I didn’t feel anything. I haven’t thought about hurting my mom in a long time.  Facing the ugly feelings was one of the best things I did for myself.  It helped me to empty out another layer of anger and take another step in healing. 

 Christina Enevoldsen

 Christina Enevoldsen is cofounder of Overcoming Sexual Abuse, an online resource for male and female abuse survivors looking for practical answers and tools for healing. Christina’s passions are writing and speaking about her own journey of healing from abuse and inspiring people toward wholeness. She and her husband live in Los Angeles and share three children and three grandchildren.

35 response to "What Is My Anger Telling Me? By Christina Enevoldsen"

  1. By: Christian Posted: 21st February 2013

    I just found this site. I am lying in bed next to my wife, asking myself why I am so full of anger?

    It was cathartic to read so many posts that mirror my experience: reoccuring abuse, addiction to appearances by a mother, and emotionally dishonest parrents. I am 46 and am, for the first time, coming to terms with this.

    I have so much angerm that I developed social phobias that ruined a lucrative carrer. My parrents warned me against alchol addictions but my work addiction was my real problem. Now that I have no career, I have nothing to protect me from my repressed anger. I am terrified of going crazy because of all my symptoms.

    These posts gave me some hope. Tank you.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st February 2013

      Hi Christian
      Welcome to EFB
      Anger was a big part of the healing process for me. Seeing why I had a right to be angry was HUGE for me when I had spent a lifetime squishing it before.
      I am glad that you have some new hope.
      hugs darlene

  2. By: Christina Enevoldsen Posted: 26th July 2012

    ButtaFli,
    YES! That’s fantastic! I agree that it’s so invalidating to be told what to feel and that it’s so liberating and validating to take back that right. Embracing my anger was a declaration that I deserved to be treated better. Just accepting that felt so good. As I embrace my anger and work through it, I don’t have to carry it anymore and that feels amazing too. I’m glad you’re finding that same freedom. Thanks for your comment!
    Christina

  3. By: ButtaFli Posted: 24th July 2012

    You’re taught to feel bad about the anger you have inside of you. But I am anger…as hell. I’ve tried to forgive, move forward but none of it worked. So now, I’m angry. And you know what? I feel better. I am finally getting to express and completely feel this emotion. I’ve never felt so validated before and I’m not seeking that validation from anyone else. I have denied MY feelings long enough. I have believed what others told me I SHOULD believe long enough. No more. And I feel better already. I know I won’t always be angry but to not ever allow oneself to feel that emotion is toxic alone. And I refuse to live my life in denial; depriving myself of my human right to feel certain ways about certain things. It’s my right and I take it back. Thanks for empowering me to do so.

  4. By: Christina Enevoldsen Posted: 12th December 2010

    Hi All,
    I just posted a related blog that’s similar to the one I wrote here about sorting out my relationship with my parents and challenging society’s rule that we have to love them no matter what they do to us. It’s called “My Parents Are Dead (To Me)” Here’s an excerpt:

    “I only stood up to my mother for one thing in my life. It was only after she asked my husband and me to compromise our values by insisting that we stay silent. I was finally growing enough to speak up. My mom’s response was a reminder that I’m not perfect. So only perfect people are qualified to set boundaries—to say no to harsh treatment, deception, manipulations, and betrayals?” Christina Enevoldsen
    http://overcomingsexualabuse.com/2010/12/12/my-parents-are-dead-to-me/

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