Well, something triggered me yesterday or earlier in the week. I could tell last night because I was having intrusive thoughts of trauma as well as repressed memories and flashbacks and had a hard time sleeping. I did eventually fall asleep and slept pretty well except for the fact that one of my parts still seemed to be conscious and thinking while I was dreaming. A lot of people call this lucid dreaming; I’m not sure what it is, I just know that it can make me very tired. At the same time, though, I’m also able to wake myself up during bad nightmares some of the time because of it, which is something that a counselor taught me to do at the age of about 6 or so.
Today I finished an anger for women workbook. I bought it a few years ago, started it, and never finished it. This time I actually did the majority of the exercises except for the ones that were too 12 steppy or hit too close to trauma.
There was a lot of good information and exercises in that book. The author talks about how women tend to show their anger in different ways than men due to social conditioning that we must not show our anger. Women might show anger by gossiping, backstabbing, getting revenge, and other indirect ways. Or, they might not be aware of their anger and explode or even have physical health problems due to repressed anger. I could relate to all of these ways of dealing with anger and know that for myself it’s important for me to learn to talk things through with someone when I am angry. As a child, I was taught very much not to show anger and emotions even though it was okay for Dad to do so. I was raised to be a caretaker who was always loving, forgiving, and tolerant of others (caretaker was one of my family roles). So today it’s essential for me to feel, note/acknowledge, and express my anger in healthy ways, which is something that I’ve been working on for a few years now. Before that, I was very much in the repressed anger camp and gossiped, had physical health issues (which I still have), etc. I’m trying to be more direct with my communication today and acknowledge my emotions and anger.
12 step programs also did not help me with my repressed anger issues as the Big Book and members talked about how anger is toxic for the alcoholic, as are resentments. I was angry when I came to AA, and I did inventories and the such, but because I was simply supposed to pray away anger (which didn’t work) and still was taught that anger was bad I just ended up suppressing and repressing my anger more and more. I’ve talked in this blog before how eventually in 2015 I just blew in terms of all of my repressed emotions. It was not a lot of fun, and leaving 12 step programs two years ago has been vital in my recovery from recovery and in learning how to cope with my emotions.
Things are a lot better for me today in terms of my emotions. I realize that they are not going to hurt me and that having them is a natural part of being human. I am learning how to step back and control myself when I am angry and/or need to address an issue with someone. I am also learning how to express how I actually feel and think rather than holding it back as not to hurt someone else (or myself–I get scared if my emotions grow too big).
Sometimes during healing and growth processes it is hard to see how far we have come. I know that I’ve gone through that, where I’ve had days where I felt like I am worse than ever. But I know that despite the discomfort of healing, and even the hospital visits, that I am growing and healing and have been for some time (years). I am getting better, and I’m doing so because I care about myself enough to put in the effort to do so.
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