I find it extremely difficult to verbalize my feelings when I am angry about something or when I am angry at someone. Difficult meaning I physically cannot make words come out of my mouth when I’m asked “What’s wrong?” or “Why do you look upset?” I open my mouth and try to answer and although my brain is racing at the speed of light, it refuses to let the thoughts coursing through it escape my lips. I want to say what is on my mind and sometimes I want to scream it from the rooftops, but something in me won’t allow me to verbalize what I am feeling.
So if I don’t tell people when I am angry, what do I end up doing instead? Sometimes I write and try to get my feelings out through my fingertips while they click away on my keyboard, but most of the time, I end up shutting down for a couple of hours and holding in my anger in, bottling it up and putting the anger into a file cabinet deep in the back of my mind. It’s like I’m here physically, but mentally, I’m light years away as my mind works overtime to reconcile my anger on its own.
This isn’t something new to me; it is something I have struggled with my entire life. My quiet, bottled up way of dealing with anger is the only way I was able to survive and mentally get through my childhood. I spent many years of my life feeling angry and helpless, but I had no one I could turn to for help and no one who I felt comfortable enough with to sit and vent to. After every beating Mom gave me, I wanted to scream, yell, and tell her how much she hurt me and how much she broke my heart, but an abused child isn’t going to scream at her abuser. An abused child isn’t going to risk upsetting their abuser and enduring more pain. And after absorbing every disgusting insult Mom hurled my way, I would swallow my anger and hurt, bottle it up and hope that tomorrow would be a better day.
I spent a lot of nights curled up into a ball in the corner of my bed, eyes shut, whispering to myself and trying to understand why God had cursed me to be with a mother who didn’t want me. I used to think that God heard my whispers and I thought He would come and rescue me from my situation, but as the years of abuse continued, I concluded that even He didn’t want to answer me back and didn’t care to hear my anger.
I had no one but myself to lean on for support and over the years I found ways to quietly overcome the anger I was feeling. I learned to say positive things to myself when I was angry and found it helped me get over the latest beating or verbal insult. “That beating wasn’t as bad as last night’s.” or “I know I’m not a piece of trash, I know I’m not.” The anger flowing through my veins would subside as I would repeat positive things to myself, but it didn’t stop the tears from rolling down my face or stop my heart from breaking. And until that pain in my heart subsided, my mouth stayed shut and refused to speak.
It’s an awful trait to have and carry over into adulthood. I’ve learned that many adults do not understand why someone can’t verbalize their feelings and why someone would prefer to stay quiet instead of talking their issues out. “Communication is the key to successful relationships!” they will say over and over. “That’s great!” I want to say. “Now just make my brain tell my mouth that and we can all be happy!”
It’s not that easy and those of you who struggle with verbalizing your feelings can maybe relate with me. It’s not that easy to just open your mouth and let everything you are feeling spill out when you don’t know how. It’s not that easy to tell someone you are angry when you spent your life bottling your anger and making yourself feel better because no one else would. It’s not that easy to communicate your feelings when you are still scared to out of fear of repercussions.
I’m not a lost cause though, I am working on talking out how I feel and letting people I love know when they have hurt me or upset me. I have to tell my brain that it’s OK to take the “risk” and tell someone that they have hurt me or angered me. My brain think it’s a risk, it screams at me with big red warning lights that it’s a risk to open my mouth, and I have to take a deep breath and tell myself it’s going to be O.K. The world isn’t going to end because I am mad about something, I’m not facing another beating for voicing my anger, and I am surrounded by people who do care about me and want me to be happy. If I am having a problem, there is nothing that the people in my life want more than to fix it and work it out.
I finally am beginning to realize that my voice deserves to be heard.
Love yourself and the rest will follow.