My angry vulcano

I’ll admit, it’s hard to write something after getting so many comments on the last post.  It scares some of the young ones to realise that people actually read what is written here.  It’s even scarier for them when we state an opinion and open ourselves up to negative comments.  Part of me wants to write further posts on similar topics because they see it as helping people – something that feeds our self-worth; but there is a fear that if we did this, we’d lose sight of why we write this blog… which is to help us work through the issues we’re facing.  So, this entry is about finding our way back to that space.  In many ways, the previous post is an indication that we’re trying to avoid the issues… a great diversionary tactic if ever there was one.  It’s hard to work through what is really going on in my head at the moment, it’s all very confused, messy and hidden deep beneath layers of dissociation.  But a clue comes from Liz saying in three of my previous sessions… “we keep on coming back to your anger”.

Anger…  Hmmm, so she means I have anger?  But I don’t “do” anger…  Yes, I get frustrated sometimes, and confused.  But I don’t get angry, do I?  Angry is that scary silence when everyone walks around you on egg-shells… Angry is that violent rage of a raised hand, belt, spoon…  Angry is sex…  “I” don’t do any of that!

That is what my daily functioning self can say easily… “I” have no concept that I experience anger.  Then there are little reality checks… I know that some of my self-injury is motivated by anger or angry ones; therapists have said to me “you left angry last week”; and my cynical friend at work has commented on my anger in a teasing way.  So, apparently I do get angry, I’m just not in touch with it.  Sometimes I can glimpse the anger… if there is a dissociative switch from an angry one, they often leave the body feeling tight and wound up.  That feeling is quickly stamped down and I can ignore that it ever happened; but it’s there, ever so fleetingly.

Another clue to my anger came earlier this week.  I wasn’t able to sleep and was looking at the 25 popular YouTube clips on the iPhone; one of the clips that came up, was the “Angry Dance” from the film Billy Elliot.

I immediately recognised some of the feelings of frustration that Billy was experiencing… having all these conflicting inputs and emotions, while feeling powerless to stop it.  That powerlessness then building into feelings of anger with the world around him and himself.  In Billy’s case, he released that emotion in dance… for us, it’s bottle up and buried within the dissociative system.  I know this intellectually, but I’m not sure I understand it on a functional level… or, more accurately, I don’t know how to deal with those feelings in a more appropriate way.

My knowledge of therapeutic techniques would indicate that I need to work on identifying, experiencing and appropriately managing my anger.  That’s all well and good, but as my anger is so fleetingly realised within my normal functional states, I’m not sure how to proceed in understanding it.  I know that Liz has talked to angry ones and unsuccessfully tried to stop some of the mild self injury (scratching, picking etc) that happens in session when they are present.  She also seems to be actively poking at me and trying to encourage the anger – she was thrilled the other week when I showed frustration at her via a text message.  She wanted to explore my reaction and find out what happened, she saw the event as important… I saw it as Liz being an idiot and stating the obvious, so I snapped a curt response back to her and ignored that she existed.  I’ve noticed more and more lately that I’m losing all sense of Liz between sessions, and I wonder if this is because she wants to explore my anger.  It’s like my system is protecting me from the anger and the scariness of exploring it by shutting down everything that could prod at it.  I think this is also the reason why there are threats and desires to quit therapy…  Liz has become a huge threat to parts of the system that don’t want those emotions looked at.

Anger has always terrified me, I know that much.  Nothing will cause a dissociative switch quicker than someone showing anger.  I know I need to explore and work my anger issues through, I just wish it didn’t seem so daunting and scary…


18 thoughts on “My angry vulcano

  1. It made me giggle reading about Liz provoking you like that – my T does exactly the same thing. Once we had a quick-fire email conversation where she kept pushing and pushing for me to get angry with her. It was done sensitively of course, and we laughed about it (but it did wind me up!)

    I think it is ok for you to find it tough – anger is a really difficult emotion to work with. I hope you can give yourself time and space to work through it safely.

    take care, xx

    • Hi TheSameSky,

      It was amusing after the texting episode. Liz was interested in my reaction and wanting to actively explore it… I was so ambivalent about it the whole thing that I didn’t understand her interest. I’d lost that feeling of irritation so quickly and had gone onto dismiss her totally as someone to look to for help.

      I remember you blogging about your therapist winding you up 🙂

      I know I have to look at my anger, it’s probably eating a hole in my stomach as I type this… But it’s so big, scary and out of control that I don’t know how to approach it. Liz seems determined to try though!

      Take care,

  2. It kinda made me laff too…..with releif!
    My T pushes and pokes me plenty.
    Initially when I started to go to her, I did some what might have been anger, but it was just more protective than genuine anger. I think there is an important difference there. Anyhow now it is gone. No anger ever.
    Your post sure made me think.
    We have this thing where “we are being nice to T”,like its such a good thing, and I only just now have realized its a ploy to avoid anger. DUHHHHH.
    My T tries to point out to me when I am showing an emotion such as anxiety, but then the SECOND she points it out it instantly goes away. Gone. Poof. I don’t know how this happens , it just does. I can’t stop it. T tries to get me to feel the anxiety, stay with it a bit….but I CAN’T, I don’t know how. And once its gone, I can’t understand or really remember how it feels….
    Last week a part I am calling Rage was near, ugh, and I was trying to warn T to STAY AWAY from that part. Cuz its very powerful and scarey. She didn’t seem to get that it is a dangerous part. LOL, now that kinda made me mad a tiny bit. But I was too tired from keeping rage at bay and eventually getting it to go away to be mad!
    I have a theory….
    Generally, well, alot of times, behind anger is fear. Now fear feels bad, but is not scarey like Rage. So I am wondering if maybe now that I have felt Rage near, that maybe I am more willing now to work on fears. I wasn’t B4. But its better than getting anywhere near Rage. So by getting at fears and helping somehow, then maybe it will reduce the Rage to manageble levels, cuz at this point it does not feel managable to me.
    LOL! As far as the ‘helping people’ being an ecape, a dodge…yup I was thinking the same way as I do exactly the same thing.
    Or I will get obsessed with learning more bout DD by reading books that are a real hard read, like Haunted Self. LOL!
    Also, I never realized this thing I do is proly a kind of SI type thing. I will will run the nail of my thumb HARD against the pad of my index finger(kinda like how people indicate, give me some money). It hurts quite a bit after awhile, but doesn’t break the skin. I am gonna have to ponder that too.
    And yes, I have told T I want to either quit or reduce sessions.
    I have parts telling me T is a misguided idiot.
    I have parts that seem to want/need the T, and this REALLY makes other parts mad(hey?! anger…??!!)
    etc etc
    Its really confusing.
    I wonder if rather than transferring anger towards T, maybe we should be looking at the anger the parts have towards each other?
    I dunno.
    I guess its a matter of just picking away at stuff a bit at a time.
    Its so friggin SLOW tho 😦
    I dunno if this is of any use to you…
    I understand the overwhelm of the lils…

    • Hi Ones,

      I think you’re right, it’s about taking it slow and one piece at a time. It does seems daunting just knowing where to start…

      It’s amazing what our systems will do to protect us – try to stop therapy, divert our attention and energies… All done so that something that seems to scary and overwhelming is avoided. I think it comes down to trusting that our therapists are working in the right direction, no matter how scary that might be.

      Have you mentioned the thumb scratching incidents to your therapist? I do similar things for different reasons and motivations. Whenever I do anything similar in therapy, Liz tries to divert the action to using one of the squeeze toys she has in the office. Sometimes it’s successful, sometimes her suggestions are ignored.

      One moment/hour/day at a time…
      Take care,

      • ” I think it comes down to trusting that our therapists are working in the right direction”

        Trusting our T’s huh? Hmmmm. Thats a tough one. I trust she’s not likely to hurt me. Cuz she’s known and so wouldn’t be teaching and stuff if she had bad stuff on her record.(tho not ALL trust her…)
        Trust?!Thats a good one. Man you commin up w/good stuff!
        I need to do that. I have got a part that is pretty intelligent (LOL< it feels every bit as intelligent as the T !!!) and it respects T, but there is another one who just keeps at me, saying 'does that T REALLY know she doing????' I hadn't realized that it was a problem until I read that line of yours that I quoted.
        I been fighting her.
        Tooth and nail.
        In a hundred diff ways….omg I had no idea.
        I didn't realize quite how much….
        No wonder she says she sometimes gets frustrated!!!Poor woman LOL!!!!
        T has proly noticed the thumb thing, but I will mention it to her as another indicator to watch cuz I don't show alot.
        Sounds like you got a good T 🙂
        I will now go an email T these new findings!

        • Hi Ones,

          Trust with a therapist is a tough thing… I know that in my case not all of me trust Liz, and we certainly don’t like her. But overall, we trust her ability and the path that we are going down.

          I think it’s normal to have doubts and to struggle against the therapist – they’re challenging the way we’ve been doing things for many many years, so that is bound to feel threatening. Just try to keep the communication going with your therapist, even if it’s to talk about the road blocks you’re experiencing.

          Take care,

  3. I was never allowed to ‘be angry’. It has affected me a great deal. Try working on it with your T. I try every now and then and it is very difficult.

    • It feels impossible at the moment Ivory… I wasn’t allowed to be angry either, so I stamp it all down. I know it’s not healthy, but it’s all I know.

      Take care,

  4. @ Castorgirl and Same Sky – LOL My T has provoked me into the angry space as well. She also says I carry a lot of anger (or used to), though I don’t recognise what she means. I guess she poked me once too often coz she then said that while she was glad I was dealing with my anger, she’d prefer it if I wasn’t angry at her, coz then she can’t help me. Go figure?!?!?

    I understand (intellectually) that feeling the anger and dealing with it is appropriate, but I also don’t really understand how to do it. I come from a place where anger is only allowed if you’re the father. No one else is allowed to feel or express anything.

    Hang in there, CG, you are making such great strides.

    • Thanks Kerro, it’s a confusing place to be in…

      It’s amazing the power of the messages we learned while growing up… What was appropriate and what wasn’t.

      Take care,

    • Kerro this makes me feel cross. You have every right to be angry with T just as much as anyone else. It is important you can express it with her and not be condemned for it, in a way it feels like part of the point of the process is to allow the anger towards the therapist. My T encourages it so we can work with expressing it safely in the room and not feeling like it isn’t allowed.

  5. Yes, you are right. The anger does get expressed. Just not in ways you are comfortable with. I think healing is about getting comfortable about aspects of ourselves which we find least comfortable… and I continue to say that you have continually been making an effort at that and making progress.

    Billy’s “Angry Dance” does remind me of me. So, I really did appreciate that. Or, I should say reminds me of the younger parts of me. I am told this is how I act sometimes. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Not sure.

    • Billy’s dance reminds me of how the younger parts of me react to situations… all this pent up energy and confusion with no outlet. They strike out at themselves because they see no other way to release that emotion.

      Thanks for the vote of confidence 🙂 I’ll have to think over your thought on healing. It makes sense, but I’m not sue what that would “look like” in reality.

      Take care,

  6. Recently I have been holding off on talking about what I need to talk about in therapy and mentioning it as I say goodbye. It was working for a while. But last week therapist noticed and totally called me out on it. I haven’t let any of my angry parts out in a long time bc I’m scared. But they def let me know they are there. Take care.

    • Hi Hope,

      I’m glad your therapist called you on it… I know this work is scary, but I’m beginning to see how important it is. So much negative behaviour is driven by the anger and the angry ones.

      Take care,

  7. hi castorgirl, thank you for visiting my blog. i’d seen your name among other blogs’ comments, but never read your blog before today. i really appreciate what i read so far in this post and the previous one. i’m not a therapist, nor do i dissociate. but i do have problems with anger. i shut down, get quiet, go numb, cry, people-please, apologize, anything but express anger. it’s so hard for me. i’m so scared.

    i always wished my therapists would push me on this. tune in and notice when i was angry. confront me. help me feel safe and practice learning how to express myself appropriately. but darn them, not a one did! i can’t imagine i was that sucessful at hiding it. so what progress i’ve made has largely been on my own.

    thank you for writing about this. it’s always comforting to hear my struggles reflected in the eyes of another. oh and i love billy elliot! a favorite of mine. and that anger dance is so powerful it makes me want to cry whenever i see it.

    wishing you well~

    • Hi Katie,

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂 I often lurk on blogs before I get the courage to comment, and I’ve been reading yours for awhile… I also grew up with alcohol in the family, so identify with many of your posts.

      I have a similar reaction to you when confronted with anger, I will do anything possible to avoid or soothe the angry person. Their anger is too scary and triggering for me to cope with…

      I’m glad this entry helped in some way…

      I’d forgotten about the Angry Dance until the other day, it’s so good at capturing that pent up frustration and anger with what’s happening around him.

      Take care,

      • thanks castorgirl, i often forget that there might be more than just the people who comment or have signed on to follow my blog reading. my husband said the other day, even if no one comments, it doesn’t mean people don’t want to hear what you have to say.

        i’m glad you spoke up, otherwise i wouldn’t have known you were there and found my way to your blog 🙂

        here’s hoping we find our way to being less afraid of anger…

        take care too~ 🙂

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