Wednesday, May 18, 2011

the "a" word -- anger -- {{ self discovery word by word }}

 (image credit: Ashley from NTS)

I know.. I know... I reference Ashley's blog.... Nourishing the Soul... a lot. today is no exception. She started the Self-Discovery Word by Word series where each month a word is chosen to write about... (this month it's hosted by Big Girl Bombshell) I've never participated, telling myself various reasons why not to... however, this month a word popped up that left me feeling unsettled... what was this month's word?


This word came up this last week during my weekly Laura (which was last Wednesday) and also appeared quite a few times when I was in IOP.

It's a word that scares me. Something about the shape those five letters can take when personified.

When I was a kid, I saw anger. true anger.. and frequently. I'm not saying I never saw love, but I am saying that I saw, heard, and dreamt about what I still believe was an extremely raw form of haunting anger.

Some of those things still scare me and thus I say that anger does.

I was in IOP this time last year (I cannot wait until that phrase will no longer be able to escape my lips... or pass through my fingers via the keys they touch) and Cathy (an amazing art therapist) led us outside with a scale to bash. There were only three of us at this point and outside we went into the back parking lot, laughing along the way at one of the girls' habit of coughing every time she sees a smoker - that walk being no exception as we passed a group taking long drags in the cool summer breeze.

We got out there and the other two started taking the turns with the hammer Cathy brought... I wound up only being able to watch from a distance - standing on the curb near the grass in my dress... the whole situation scaring me and making me feel extremely unsettled. Just watching the others take hammers to these scales I almost started crying, resorting to hugging myself to prevent it... the anger was just so visible. Cathy wouldn't let us go back inside until I had hit the scale with a hammer, but I could barely muster tapping the already broken scale - but I needed us to go back inside the building. Inside where people were more composed. Where things felt more in control. Cathy didn't press the issue further after my love tap to the scale so inside we went again, thankfully

It wasn't the way they were acting outside that had scared me, it was the realization that no one that spirals out of control in rage, starts their rage out of control. It's a seamless transition... one I've witnessed too many times. Recently I felt incredibly hurt by some things... intense emotions... I became so fearful I would act out in anger or mixed emotions and hurt people (emotionally) that I apologized and then isolated myself from them... The whole thing terrifying and upsetting me in multiple ways... fearful that I was dangerously close to trespassing into the land of rage.

Through the years I've held in emotions, even in places I feel secure such as Laura's office, but no emotion have I held in to the degree that I have anger - to the point of mellowing it out so that I honestly don't know if I am experiencing it or anything... only a brief thought that maybe I should be angry.

I've cried and shown up in her office in a daze... but I've never let myself be angry. Truly angry. I've always said there was no point in it. The closest I've come is being pissed off (which as those that know me in real life... takes a lot -- or for me to feel extremely hurt/injured by people on an emotional level as I mentioned earlier)... I'm terrified of hurting others with that anger... I hate hurting people in general, which is another reason why I can and often do abruptly withdraw or shut off after experiencing high intense emotions.

I've held the fear (odd side fact: they say that fear and anger are inversely related) of getting too angry dear for quite some time. Curled up with it. I think the wall I've built with it is finally starting to crumble though.

Reading several case studies has taught me that this is quite a common reality for those with eating disorders, this "thwarted anger" -- with cutting, purging, starving, and other behaviors being ways of getting rid of that anger.

I think becoming more secure with yourself grants you some greater ability to validate your own emotions. To be able to sit with them, because they are yours... and feelings aren't right or wrong, they just are (or so someone I know once told me) - telling yourself that you're not angry, that you're not sad, that you're not anything is invalidating yourself... and you're worth more than that.

what do you do to sit with your emotions in a healthy way? or what can you choose to do?

 day 3: Favorite television show? My So-Called Life... closely followed by Little House on the Prairie (yes, Melissa Gilbert dressed in Calico running down a field Little House on the Prairie). Oh recent you say? Well, I don't have cable.. and have yet to really turn on my television (except for the second or third day in my apartment to watch Breakfast at Tiffany's) so all the tv shows I watch, I watch via Netflix... and I'm going to say In Treatment or Project Runway when it's in season...


  1. I too saw the word and felt uncomfortable - I however decided against writing a post about it. It is interesting how a simple word can make us feel so very squimish. Normally I start composing a post long before I even realise it is happening - but for this word I have completely shut down. I couldn't even consider writing...

  2. I think the fact that I felt so uncomfortable is what made me write about it... because I thought that it would provoke some form of self discovery by forcing me to analyze my behavior in response to the word.. if that makes sense?

  3. the fact that you are aware that you are afraid more of your emotions (or the emotions of others) than you are of other things, things that distract us from recovery, shows progress. Anger can be a threatening word when you have an eating disorder. We are used to seeing ourselves composed, the crutch for others, the dependable or even stoic one. So to be out of control (which we know often accompanies anger) is a terrifying thing.


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