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Resentment or rage: Does it matter what we call it?

Old 02-07-2013, 07:22 AM
  # 21 (permalink)  
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I also think that EXPRESSING anger toward the person we are angry with often does more harm than good. Even non-alcoholics become defensive when they are the target of anger--and even when, under calmer circumstances, they realize they did wrong.

I'm not saying angry feelings should be bottled-up or swallowed. But sometimes posting here, or confiding in someone else, or journaling, can be a way of acknowledging and releasing the anger so we can (a) have a calm and productive conversation with someone about whatever the problem is--maybe to solve it--when the person is someone with whom we can or need to maintain a good relationship, or (b) work on another way of changing the situation if the person we are angry with is incapable or unwilling to listen to reason.
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Old 02-07-2013, 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by m1k3 View Post
An expectation is different. An expectation is like a barbed hook that is embedded in the flesh. It isn't always clear to all the parties what the expectations are and are often vague, like love, honor and cherish. When an expectation isn't met the hook digs deeper causing suffering.

I have loved reading all the responses!

I also totally love Mike's response above, I the part I highlighted is exactly where I run into issues with expectations. I don't think we avoid having them at all in life, just that when we have different definitions of what those expectations are than the other party/ies involved in it, we're bound to run into trouble eventually.

It has made me slow down & communicate what I expect more clearly to RAH & confirm that we are in agreement on our meanings for things. We ran into this constant miscommunication/ failed expectations A LOT in the 1st year of recovery with both parties feeling wronged simply because we had different definitions of what was expected. It took ME a long time to humble myself & realize we were both right & both wrong at the same time.

And I wanted to add that I think this is a "normal" dysfunction in a lot of ways.... when you add in the addict/codie dynamic it makes it exponentially harder to overcome. When you are dealing with an active addict it's an even more incredible challenge.
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Old 02-07-2013, 07:48 AM
  # 23 (permalink)  
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This discussion has been so useful to me. I had never made the connection between resentments and expectations and now it makes perfect sense! In my situation I think the anger comes from the way my ABF chose to treat me, but the resentments come from my expectations that he could chose otherwise.

In a crude sense, you can be angry at someone for hitting you, whether you expected them to or not, but you can only be resentful of it if you expected them not to.

I have many many resentments about the way ABF has treated me, but I think acknowledging that they stem from my expectations has in one sweep reduced their power greatly. Oh I'm still angry tho!
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Old 02-07-2013, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by LifeRecovery View Post
Resentments for me have a nuance of internal. Of stuffing, or festering of simmering of old stuff fermenting over time.......there are usually threads to long before he was in my life and often trace to childhood.......... I am actually having physical symptoms from some of these at the moment,
Interesting you should say this. My healing process has led me backward down the rabbit hole into my childhood in a lot of ways. (Understandably) I made an enormous breakthrough in December with regards to my FOO & the spiderweb of how all these bad definitions have affected me & my decision making even now, so many decades later.

After my breakthrough I got horribly, incredibly, almost scary-sick. After 2.5 weeks I went in for my regular acupuncture appt & she was ASTONISHED at how rapidly my health had deteriorated since I had seen her just 6 weeks earlier & had been SO much healthier. She said my thymus had been greatly affected & since it relates directly to the heart area/heart chakra & the heart chakra energy often relates back to childhood issues, what exactly had I been going through emotionally since I'd seen her last? This is not something I have EVER had problems with before, but it had all-but shut down & wasn't providing mush support for my immunity system at all. She wondered that since I'm not someone that carries childhood issues with me in my day-to-day, had I had something come up relating to that period of life that would have caused this explosion of energy centralized in this area of my body? I almost fell off my chair & started to fill her in on my breakthrough.

It has never taken me so long to heal from something that was seemingly just virus or flu-like in all my life. Everyone around me came down with "it" but healed in 2-10 days. After 6 weeks I could finally say "I feel good today", lol!
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Old 02-07-2013, 08:50 AM
  # 25 (permalink)  
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So many of the posts on this thread have been so useful and so heartfelt. I'm trying to integrate the many aspects of resentment and anger that have been brought up here.

I'm thinking that part of what I've been missing here is that we are in a process as we work through what we need to do to deal with an alcoholic in our lives. There is a time-progression that happens in how we deal with anger.

I think when we are in the different stages of that process we may need to deal with our negative feelings differently.

Distress, resentment, anger, rage - we feel all of these emotions as we work through what is going on in our alcoholic relationship, and take whatever steps we need to take to eventually resolve how to live with (or not live with) our alcoholic.

I admire Mike and LexieCat for their very genuine detachment. Wish I were there. But I also think that they have worked on this for quite a while, very successfully. Evidently, I am not there yet.

But I am in a much healthier place than I was when I was submerged in such a dysfunctional destructive marriage with my AH. Then, I didn't feel anger overtly. My denial went along with my swallowing my true feelings, and I had a lot of serious health issues - major depression, auto-immune diseases like Rheumatoid arthritis. Now I keep coughing up phlegm from bronchitis that just won't quite quit. Telling, huh?

So I am getting to the point where I am stopping turning my unspoken resentment in against myself and causing myself physical problems.

I am getting through the knee-jerk reactions of outrage - and getting more and more insight and honesty about what actually happened to me. What he did was bad, hurtful, and destructive. Behind the alcoholism, perhaps deeper and more compelling, is his narcissistic driven need to feed his own self-esteem by tearing someone else down.

Out-rage: that's a new one for this thread. In my case, I think it's lightning flash moment. I suffered from "in-rage" if I can coin a phrase. When I saw my psychiatrist this week, he commented that I was kind of absent-mindedly scratching my wedding ring finger. Well, I have a skin rash there, right where my ring goes, have had it for years, and often didn't wear my wedding ring because it itched so badly. Talk about metaphorically trying to send yourself a message... I think that is "in-rage".

So maybe there are stages of different kinds of anger that we go through and different ways of acknowledging and handling it as we progress through the healing process to get to the much healthier place of genuine detachment.

There is still something lurking in there about guilt and blame and victim-hood and anger that I haven't gotten sorted out yet. May have to do with the "in-rage". Will think about it more.

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Old 02-07-2013, 09:17 AM
  # 26 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by ShootingStar1 View Post
Distress, resentment, anger, rage - we feel all of these emotions as we work through what is going on in our alcoholic relationship, and take whatever steps we need to take to eventually resolve how to live with (or not live with) our alcoholic.
And those steps lead to a healthy detachment based on acceptance, as Mike and Lexie are describing. It's what the Al-Anon (and other 12-step) program refers to as "Letting Go Of Resentments".

Mike has referred to it in the past as being "mindful". I like to call it self-awareness. Instead of looking outward to what is causing an emotional reaction, I instead look inward first. It's easy to think "that person pi$$ed me off!" When in fact it could be as simple as I had expectations that weren't met, so my emotional reaction to this situation belongs to me and is under my control.

I think there is a distinction between rage and resentment, and for me, resentments are a noun and rage is the verb. I rage over resentments. When I work to re-frame the resentments in a more logical way that allows me to find acceptance, I no longer feel rage about it.

Mike was a person here who really helped me this past summer come to terms with my divorce. And it was a very simple yet repeated reminder. This is what it is. It wasn't what I wanted. It wasn't what I agreed to. But it is what it is. I can continue to "feel" whatever I want about it, but it doesn't change what it is. And my feelings don't take away someone else's rights to live as they want. To make their own life choices. Sure, we had a legal contract with vows and all that jazz, but in the end, it is still his right to determine how he chooses to live and my right to determine my way of living. Those ways didn't match. Letting it go was an act of kindness on both our parts, rather than continue to drag each other around by the nose demanding we each get our own way - which, interestingly enough, causes resentments!

ShootingStar, you are going through the same process that others have already gone through, and you will find your own version of acceptance eventually. I have no doubt about that! It is a process, one that can't be rushed or pushed or cajoled. I didn't wake up one day and say "hey I feel GREAT about all this now - WOW!". It was more like each day got a little brighter and a little less obsessive. Each step I took toward acceptance released the negative emotions, like slowly letting the air out of a balloon.

But I do admit that even today, I have to be very mindful of my tendency to have high expectations. That I can be very impatient. To step out of my own way and let life happen on life's terms. That there really is very little I can control. And in living with this mindfulness, I find I live with very little anger, resentments, and rage these days.
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Old 02-07-2013, 11:41 AM
  # 27 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by LexieCat View Post
I also think that EXPRESSING anger toward the person we are angry with often does more harm than good. Even non-alcoholics become defensive when they are the target of anger--and even when, under calmer circumstances, they realize they did wrong.

I'm not saying angry feelings should be bottled-up or swallowed. But sometimes posting here, or confiding in someone else, or journaling, can be a way of acknowledging and releasing the anger so we can (a) have a calm and productive conversation with someone about whatever the problem is--maybe to solve it--when the person is someone with whom we can or need to maintain a good relationship, or (b) work on another way of changing the situation if the person we are angry with is incapable or unwilling to listen to reason.
This has been something really important for me recently.

I have a lot of relationships that are solid, strong and that I can be "me" in them and get my needs met (even if it is not always pretty). They are mutually beneficial relationships.

I have a lot of relationships though that I am there for the other person, but don't really get a lot from them.... This is usually the group that I expend a lot of energy about their problems. I don't take care of myself around them.

I have similar expectations of both groups, and often am surprised when the second group is not able to be there for me. If I bring a concern to them (even when I am calm and reasonable) it often thrown back at me. I then usually take it on as "my fault."

I am finally starting to figure out that my role in this is the energy I put into the second group and the little I get back. This is a bigger pattern for me then just with my loved one who is an alcoholic (though it played into that also).

I am hoping when I change my patterns it will allow me to stop stuffing things about relationships and to limit future resentments because of my unfair expectations.
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Old 02-07-2013, 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by LifeRecovery View Post
I hope LaTeeDa might post on expectations. I have learned a lot from her posts about it.

In a nutshell she talks about how having expectations is not always the problem, but having expectations of someone in active addiction can be. There is more too it but for me that really helped.

I had expectations of the role of a "husband," the person I had it of though was actively in his addiction and it was not very reasonable that he could meet my expectations in that capacity.
I think my own problem here was, a) I didn't know what active addiction looked like, and b) it's progressive as well as gradual, so initially I didn't know he was an alcoholic and, honestly, I don't think he really knew either.
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Old 02-08-2013, 11:09 AM
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Well, sure, if you want to hang on to painful feelings, don't try to let go of your rage. The point of letting go is to stop feeling the poisonous rage living in our gut. I'd much rather have peace of mind that feel terrible all the time.
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Old 02-08-2013, 11:30 PM
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Great thread.

For some of us, establishing the boundary with others that we are allowed to have and to express negative emotions is a realllllly tough one.

In my case, I grew up around an NPD, bipolar, borderline mom.... Which was like being that dumb teenager who just drank some beer and had sex in the horror movie... You knew that the killer was about to mangle them but not which direction it would come from or what the instrument of his/ her demise might be but even with the sound off you know theistic changes and its gonna be bad.

...and so we learn to blend into our surroundings, we learn to be what others need us to be and we learn not to go nose to hockey mask with the bad guy.

I recall vividly when that changed in me and that repressed anger is not sufficiently described by a single word like resentment. Pissed off? Fed up? Mad at yourself for accepting the unacceptable and yielding to someone else's version of what you ought to feel, for how long and howicj and how you may or may not express it?

Them are some big emotions my friend. You can feel what you damned well feel for as long as you damned well feel like it until you feel something different and then you may or may not choose to tell anyone because damnit, they are your feelings and don't require anyone's permission :-)

Hang in there and find some good outlets :-)
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Old 02-09-2013, 05:28 AM
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Like many others on this thread I grew up in dangerous FOO and you do learn to suppress your emotions, to blend into the walls, tiptoe quietly and live on the edge of fear all the time.

Repeated unhealthy, fearful, stressful lifestyles cause brain changes that affect our emotions. My father was a ragaholic who delighted in torturing others especially his children and out of six kids I was the most enjoyable to hurt. Why? I have no idea... did I remind of his own mother with whom he apparently had issues? (She died when I was young).

Because I might have been maimed or killed by my borderline sociopath father I had to survive by suppressing my emotions and certainly keeping my mouth shut. I raged inside at the injustice and vowed to never allow myself to be mistreated as an adult.

And then as an adult I subconsciously would connect with an alcoholic (usually in recovery) and I was the ragaholic!

Completely bizarre. I am a tangled bowl of spaghetti that I am unraveling one strand at time. It has now taken the past year of no alcoholics in my life and daily SR, alanon, counseling and a lot of work reading and contemplating to get to a place of serenity and peace... true joy and happiness!

And to keep that I need to make sure that I don't add an alcoholic to the ragaholic that I know lives dormant inside of me... because I suffer from the family disease of alcoholism although I don't get relief from a drink. My drug of choice is work... I love to spin 8 0r 9 plates of projects that make everyone else dizzy!

Maybe I will work on that this year....

My point in sharing that we are all on journeys of self discovery and understanding of our emotions and those deep feelings. It feels good for me to RAGE... because I have suppressed that rage for years against my father. So... to me... even thought it FEELS good to RAGE it is counterproductive because the roots of my rage are inside of me and not the alcoholic that I vented at for his destructive behaviors.

Now that he is gone and I have chosen to focus on my own brokenness I have started really healing and found it much easier to develop healthy relationships even with problem personalities.... and there are LOTS of difficult personalities in the world!

Raging or being angry at alcoholics is kinda like being angry with your dog... they are just going lalalalala in their heads as long as they are actively drinking anyway! So why get your blood pressure up and your nerves jangled and make your voice hoarse? MIght as well rage at the wall...
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