Acknowledging Anger as a Part of my Healing Process

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these…

Recently, I’ve been going back and considering things I’ve discovered are at the root of my depression within the past year. Among them, if you recall my “Radical Recovery” video from last year, is…anger.

I have a lot of unresolved anger issues.

My family…I don’t believe they did it intentionally but seemed to discourage me from expressing negative emotions when I was growing up. Consequently, I don’t think I ever learned to deal with sadness, resentment, envy, frustration, or anger in a healthy way. A lot made me angry as a kid; unfairness from teachers, bullies who would pick on me and my few friends, my older brother… and none of these were things I was taught to express my feelings about in a healthy way. I recall being angry and sad and just going to my room to cry it out until I couldn’t cry anymore.

As I got older, there was so much more I felt that, again, I didn’t know how to express healthily. After 9/11, when I was 14 years old, for a long time, I became fearful, paranoid, and withdrawn. I would watch comedy movies and TV shows, read Calvin and Hobbes treasuries, and just try to forget. Not to say that watching and reading funny and uplifting things isn’t good self-care, of course; the problem was that I wasn’t really dealing with my emotions. I was running from them, trying to ignore them and hope they’d stop bothering me.

The worst part was that my inability to deal with anger healthily has followed me into adulthood. My history of self-harm began in my mid-20’s, not my teens; the pressure of trying to finish school, work at that underpaid job I hated, and trying to balance it all with my parents breathing down my neck got so overwhelming that turning my anger on myself seemed like my only outlet.

I’m only now learning that I need to let myself feel angry. I’m angry about a lot of things. I’m angry that people get rewarded for spreading misinformation and shitlording like the plague. I’m angry that the system we live under causes so much suffering for the earth, humans, and nonhumans. I’m angry that I did everything “RIGHT” yet still live under my parents’ roof and can’t afford my own home or even an apartment. I’m angry that there are little shits who don’t even know me who feel entitled to try to hurt me and then have the gall to play the victim when I hit back.

These things make me angry…and I’ve decided I’m okay with admitting that. THAT’S part of healing. Being angry is just as valid as being joyful or sad, and acknowledging, and moreover expressing anger is a vitally important part of self-care.  

I’ve found healthy outlets for dealing with my anger, including:

  • taking breaks from social media as needed;
  • roller derby (I’ve just gotten started);
  • writing/doodling; and
  • talking things out with a trusted friend.

If you struggle with similar issues, don’t be afraid; feel what you feel, and talk to someone you trust about it.

2 thoughts on “Acknowledging Anger as a Part of my Healing Process

  1. My first revelation about anger was the Rage Against The Machine lyric, whispered in the song and written in parentheses ” (anger is a gift) ”
    That really stuck with me and I’ve spent decades thinking about what it means. We must embrace our anger and all of our emotions, to suppress them is to suppress our identity, desires, passions, and concerns. But we must also not let them control our actions. We’ve got to find ways to let them fuel our actions. The brain and heart must work in harmony (with the body too) in order to effectively channel anger or fear into a productive outlet.
    Also I just want to say that I too have pressed the self-destruct button too many damn times. Your words give me some solace in a commonality and they help me to reflect on my own path. For that and everything else you do, I thank you, Ashleigh.

    Liked by 1 person

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