“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…

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.

This article is just a small excerpt used by permission from A Love Letter to My Anger by Barbara Rogers. Click here to read the whole letter. Excellent!

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…I felt devastated and deeply defeated…

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…

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…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…You showed me…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…

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…

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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.

This article is just a small excerpt used by permission from A Love Letter to My Anger by Barbara Rogers. Click here to read the whole letter. Excellent!

© Barbara Rogers, January 2007


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This article is for informational and educational purposes only. Under no circumstances should it be considered therapy nor replace therapy and treatment. If you are feeling suicidal, thinking about hurting yourself, or are concerned that someone you know may be in danger of hurting himself or herself, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is staffed by certified crisis response professionals. The content of these blogs and all blogs written by Lenora Thompson are merely her opinion. If you are in need of help, please contact qualified mental health professionals.

Photo by greg westfall.