Have you ever felt totally consumed by anger? So much so that there is not one molecule of your entire body that is not in a state of fury? That’s what I was like over the weekend. I was filled with a deep, intense, overwhelming and impotent rage that took hold of my entire body. Why? Well, that’s a long story, but if you’d like to stick around…
On Saturday, I had my nose buried in a copy of Margaret Atwood’s Robber Bride, which I was enjoying very much, except that it mentioned some topics that are a bit triggering for me (I won’t mention them right now, though). As I read, I found myself getting angrier and angrier in (what felt like) an unstoppable chain reaction. In fact, I felt like I was heading for some kind of China Syndrome meltdown.
There I was, blood boiling, heart racing and ready to kill someone if I didn’t kill myself first, when I realised that I had spent nearly each and every day of my adolescence fuming in just such a way – impotent, powerless, actionless, self-consuming and total rage. I literally spent my teens imploding.
I came home and spoke to John about what I was going through – how I was consumed by this feeling, how I didn’t know how to just ‘hold’ the feeling without either acting out or storing the rage away for future (as I did in my teens), how powerless I felt with it. Poor guy. He was on the receiving end of some of it, despite my efforts otherwise. But talking about it didn’t seem to make one iota of difference.
I was glad, therefore, that I had a therapy session scheduled for this afternoon. And boy, was it intense. Basically, I was in a state total rage from about 12 years old and at least until my early 20s. I realised, among other things, that one hell of a lot of shit happened to me 1982/1983 and that a lot of my anger related to those things. Let’s see.
- My grandfather, whom I called Georgie, had to be admitted to a nursing home. He developed cancer and died. When he moved out of home, I moved into his room (pleased to have some space of my own and not to have to share a room with my sister). After his death, I felt like a vulture who had swooped to peck at his flesh before he was even dead. There was a lot of guilt.
- I started high school. A stressful time for anyone.
- I started my periods which (for me) were accompanied by ferocious migraines that hit like clockwork at a certain point of my menstrual cycle.
- Mum met my step-dad Alan. He was a very – shall we say – strong person, who believed that he should act towards us as he acted towards his own kids (ie. dominantly), even when Mum and he were just going out.
- So after being in a primarily (except for my grandfather) female household for around 6 or 7 years where I had felt safe from the threat of domestic violence, I felt threatened by the entry into my life of another dominant and controlling father-figure. I felt very unsafe.
- Part way during the high school year, Mum and Alan decided to move in together. We had to pack up, leave and move into Alan’s tiny flat until they found a larger place for us to live.
- This was very spur of the moment, and took place during the school holidays between 2nd and 3rd term. I had no chance to say goodbye to friends or to get phone numbers.
- I had to start a new high school part way through year 7 (first year high school) when all new friendships had well and truly already been formed. That was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, because I had been ripped away from where I felt at home and was accepted, to somewhere where I was the strange new kid in town.
- I felt like no consideration was given to me or my feelings by my parents. I felt unable to make myself and my needs heard. I felt ignored, bullied, threatened and silenced.
- I was – at some point around this time – placed on a diet. But even when I lost weight, it was never enough. I learned the lessons of that well; that I was not acceptable as I was, that to earn the right to be treated well I had to lose weight, that eating was “bad” and that I needed to eat, so that meant I was “bad”.
- Add to that the lesson that my best efforts were not good enough. After dieting for what seemed to be an interminable and restrictive amount of time and losing a relatively large amount of weight, I was presented with an extremely demoralising and humiliating T-shirt bearing the slogan “I try to lose weight, but it keeps finding me” in large puffy (fat) letters.
If you asked me about good things that occurred during 1982/83, I could only tell you one or two:
- I came Dux of the School in year 6, but that seemed like a paltry achievement to me because I hadn’t lost “enough” weight.
- I remember finally feeling accepted when I was elected the “leader” of my group of friends at the first High School I went to, but that meant nothing when I transferred and ended up on the bottom of the social heap at my new school.
And thatís it for the good stuff.
Is it any wonder that I got angry, and just kept getting angrier for the next 8 years?
And really, that does does not even begin to cover all of what we discussed in this afternoon’s therapy session. I suspect that there will be fuel for many, many more therapy sessions that touch on my nuclear arsenal of rage.