Teaching A Dogma New Tricks

Or Who Needs A Therapist When I Can Overanalyze Everything Myself…

“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

I firmly believe that anger is as dangerous and as corrosive as cancer. I’ve seen it destroy people from the inside. Sure, the death certificate might say something else, but it all started as anger. The longer it festers, the sicker you get. I was a very angry person, filled with hurt and resentment.

I don’t ever really remember being very happy. I remember feeling cynical and distrustful at three years old. (But, then, my mother did tell me I acted like a miniature adult. I didn’t understand kids, felt they were too childish. I preferred to sit and drink tea and chat with my grandmother and her friends.) Yes, I was an odd child, often alone. I read a lot.

I grew up in a two family house with my grandmother, aunt (father’s twin), and cousin. The less said about my aunt, the better. She was awful and died a bitter and angry woman. My father is a narcissist with an awful temper who liked to beat me up when I couldn’t fight back and only stopped when I could. Now he has found God and lives in fear of the things he has done and hopes praying will make them go away. My family lived in denial of the abuse, which is why I was so angry and resentful. 

I left home as soon as I could and married the passive aggressive version of my father. It was only years and years later after I left him, after my divorce, after I was forced to move back in with my parents because I was too ill to care for myself that I realized that my anger was only hurting me. And I forgave my father. Then I forgave my aunt. And I started to forgive everyone else in my life. 

I’m not saying it was easy. It wasn’t. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But I had to do it for me. Let him live with the things he did. I don’t want to be haunted by it anymore. My mother thinks helping me is penance for not protecting me back then? If it helps her, then fine. Those aren’t my ghosts anymore. 

It was strange letting it all go. A lot of ugly emotion came up with it. I remember talking about it with a friend and likening it to lancing a boil; all of this pus comes out. It needs to be aspirated so it can finally heal. I cried a lot. Hell, my kids still roll their eyes if it looks like I might cry and start looking for tissues. It made me more in touch with my emotions. I don’t hide them under anger or nonchalance anymore. I’ve allowed myself to be more vulnerable with people. More trusting. And that’s scary as hell! I’m not used to trusting! But I’m trying something new because what I was doing was clearly not working. (Nor was it healthy!)

All of this doesn’t mean I’ve cured myself of my anger. I still have a temper on me, unfortunately. I’m better about dealing with it. More patient. More tolerant. But I will totally smack you down if you piss me off!

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