Benefits of Denying Anger

by Toni, a Survivor

When I entered therapy about five years ago because of a long-standing bout with depression, the therapist was talking to me about anger. He asked me questions about what was the least amount of anger I could visualize. Well, this made absolutely no sense to me at all. For one thing, I never got angry or--at least very rarely. I could not see the point in discussing anger. I did not have a temper at all. In fact, I was a very easy going person. Nothing really ever bothered me. The only reason I was there was that I WAS SOMEWHAT DEPRESSED. This discussion about anger was, to say the least, a bit annoying.

Then there was the day I got in touch with my anger and it exploded all over the place. Unfortunately for my husband, he was the recipient of most of my outbursts. I had denied and disowned my anger for so long that when I unleashed it, it was as if the flood gates had been opened.

I really didn't like this new me. I was trying desperately to continue in my old ways of denying and disowning my anger. For one thing, I found out that there were some great benefits to denying and disowning it.

  • I could blame others for my unhappiness.
  • I wouldn't need to change or make amends.
  • I could be free and irresponsible.
  • I could allow others to take responsibility for me.

I could continue being passive/aggressive.

Now my inner child, or my kid-side, liked it this way and she didn't want to change. It seemed to me so much easier to just blame others for my lot in life. If I took responsibility for my anger, I would have to say I was sorry and make amends. I would have to admit I was wrong and seek forgiveness. Boy, that didn't seem like much fun. Then I feared others would begin to blame me just as I had blamed them. That was really scary.

Then it was brought to my attention that when I was annoyed with someone I needed to talk with them directly. Well, I knew that was stupid! Talk to someone directly when I was upset with them! Never! my inner child screamed.

Then came the biggy--my life was my responsibility--no one else's. Oh no! You don't understand--it's my husband who makes all the decisions--not me! He would get angry--I couldn't do that!

Little by little as I continued in therapy, I began to grow up and take responsibility for my anger. I found out the first time I confronted my husband that the world didn't come to an end. Inch by inch I began to grow in my ability to own my anger--to take responsibility for it--to learn new, adult ways of dealing with it and it began to feel good. As time went on, I became more and more comfortable and able to accept my anger and to deal with it in an adult, healthy way.

However this is still my ``Achilles heel.'' I still will fall back into old patterns of denying and disowning--which had become so natural for me. Sometimes it just feels good to act like a child and blame others. But I have learned that in the long run it does me more harm than good. Then I get back on track because I have learned that if I don't, I run the risk of falling back into depression. I can't have it both ways. I can't be irresponsible and emotionally healthy. It just doesn't work.