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To Mark H.

Posted by Todd on April 27, 2000, at 15:01:59

In reply to Re: Todd's writing Lithium, posted by Mark H. on April 27, 2000, at 10:48:58

Hey there, Mark
I feel compelled to write because I really identify with your attitudes towards anger. Before I share those thoughts with you, I'd like to say that I have really enjoyed reading a lot of your posts. You are incredibly intelligent and well-read, and seem to have invested quite a bit of time in your personal growth. From what you have related in these posts, you have done some great work on yourself and in the process have inspired many. That's what I feel my purpose here is, to learn and share in the hopes of helping others heal as I heal myself. You feel like a bit of a soulmate to me.

Back to the anger. Anger has always been something I have been uneasy with, and never knew exactly why. For most of my life, whenever I felt angry, I felt a need to squash it. I felt it was wrong to be angry, and on a much deeper level, I felt I would lose approval and even be abandoned by those who I thought loved me if I ever expressed it. For the most part, the only time I ever expressed my anger fully was when someone else was angry with me. That made me very angry, and their anger justified my own and it would sometimes vent in a big rage. As long as the other person was angry, I could vent. But at the same time, I was afraid that I would lose their approval so eventually I would just give in and stop the venting. This always left me with a sour feeling, that they still hadn't seen my point, and worse, I felt manipulated into giving in to the other's demands and felt unable to stand my own ground and assert myself. But in the name of peace and love to all, and feeling that anger was a bad thing, I would let it go. Deep down inside, I would resent the hell out of it.

When I started doing my inner child work about a year ago, I had an amazing dream loaded with symbolism that helped me to discover where my anger came from and to validate it as being entirely appropriate. First off, I was born prematurely, which is usually manifests as an abandonment/survival issue later in life. I was immediately taken from my mother and put in an incubator for a week or so. To a newborn psyche, this is an indication that mom doesn't really love me, that she is going to leave me all alone and I will die. Of course, that is not the reality, but newborns are very sensitive and those kinds of experiences are incredibly traumatic and become embedded in the psyche. Later on, when I was about 3 years old, my Mom had to go to the hospital for a weekend-long procedure. I actually remember bits of this very clearly. While she was away, I stayed with my godparents. I am sure that deep inside I was terrified she was leaving again for good, but she and everyone else assured me that she would be fine and back in a few days. So I relaxed and had a great time. I remember several things about that weekend, and I also remember that my godmother let me do things for myself and flex my newfound independence a bit. This is the age that a child starts becoming aware of his own autonomy and wants to show the world how good he is. I felt great, because hey, wow, I can do this myself. It was a new feeling for me, because my Mom was a bit of an over-manager and tended to do too much for me instead of letting me start to do things on my own. I don't remember anything about what happened when Mom came back. That would come in the dream I had decades later.

In the dream, my mother, my godmother, and I were the characters. I felt kind of like a teenager in the dream. I was playing a guitar and was pretty impressed with myself and wanted my Mom to see how good I was. So I went to show her, and played for her. She got ANGRY with me! I felt like, who the hell are you to get angry with me when I am trying to show you how good I am on this here guitar? I wanted to impress her and gain her approval. So I played some more. She got angrier, and this made ME angry. I started playing furiously, and all of a sudden my godmother is off to the side, and I am thinking to myself, I am going to live with HER instead. But as the dream wore on, I knew that living with my godmother, who gave me the approval I wanted, was not an option. I was stuck with my own mother. Then the panic set in. I felt like if I got any angrier with my mother, she would get hurt again and would go away and I would be all alone. So, wracked with guilt and panic, I gave into her and stopped playing the stupid guitar and we collapsed in an emotionally-drained heap. And at the very end of the dream, I was at the top of my godmother's stairway, now an adult, and everyone I love was leading me outside. I asked them how long I had been up there at the top of the stairs, and they said it was a reallllllly long time, and they were all glad that I was finally out. Then the dream ended and I immediately woke up and said "Holy shit, that's it!"

One of my earliest memories of childhood was standing on the top of that stairway and watching my mom leave. So I knew this dream was incredibly significant. I am sure that, although I don't remember it, when life resumed after her hospital stay, I probably tried to impress her with something I had learned at my godmother's house to show her how good I was. She didn't pay attention, I got angry, this got her angry, I felt like I was hurting her, and submitted to her will for my very survival and for hers. In my child's mind, this was a completely appropriate and rational thing to do. It was a marvelous plan that worked very well at the time. But it became embedded in my subconscious and became THE survival mode for me later on in life. I had convinced myself that anger was a bad thing, and learned to stuff my anger and give in to other's wills instead of asserting my own. This would give me "peace" with those who I argued with, but I also resented the hell out of it. Even deeper than that, I felt that deep down inside I wasn't good enough. If I were good enough, then these people wouldn't be getting angry with me. It was a vicious cycle of pleasing people outwardly but resenting it and feeling like my real worth was not being recognized. I craved validation but hated myself for it, because it meant that I would have to submit my will to another's. I thought others were robbing me of my authenticity, but in actuality, I was the one who was doing it.

I am still working on letting anger come through when I feel it, and expressing it appropriately. But the funny thing is, since starting a lot of this inner work, I find that a lot of my anger has evaporated. I have more patience than I ever have had, because I understand myself better and can rest comfortably in the fact that I AM good enough. I find that I no longer have such a need to prove to others how good I am, and am able to walk confidently away from situations that previously would have made me either very angry or craving approval in a clinging way. So I guess what I would like to say to you, Mark, is explore your anger. It's a natural impulse and protects us when we need it. Try not to deny your right to be angry, rather, embrace it. You have to feel your anger before you can let it go. If you don't let yourself feel it, it backs up and pollutes you and keeps the cycle going. I hope you enjoy reading this. Peace and love.




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