The discussion on anger has brought on some thoughts. In my past the anger was the primary cause of my overeating, stuffing those feelings, afraid to feel them, cause I feared that they would cause me to lose control and that I would do harm because of it, so I ate to numb myself, to protect others, and to keep myself somewhat under control. My fantasies were violent and I feared it would overtake my reality and that I would manifest these actions in real life. Except for one incident I never exhibited violence in any way, but it was that one incident when I was about 22 that convinced me I was right about myself and I HAD to NEVER let my anger show.... it was an argument with my first wife, words only, yelling, I was sitting in my chair, she was standing beside the chair, and the shouting escalated and she either grabbed something out of my hand or hit me, I can't really remember now... but the next thing I knew I had her pinned to wall holding her by the shoulders, and I don't remember getting up out of the chair.... I was aghast!! My 2 year old daughter came out of her room at the noise and I turned to look at her, it brought me back to the present. I let go, and my wife went to work taking our daughter to her mom's (this was usual), and I looked in the paper for someone looking for a room-mate and found one, packed my clothes and left.
I was terrified at what had just happened, it was true that I was some kind of a monster and I simply had to NOT let my anger have another chance like that.
It would be 20 more years and 300 lbs before I would get into therapy. At the time of that incident I was more or less "normal weight". Being in therapy coincided with my joining OA as that was a requirement of the therapy. It would be another 10 years before facing the fears head on. It took another 200 lbs and a stay in a treatment center for eating disorders to finally face the demons that had so ruled my life.
In making my 4th step list I came to terms with all the people, places, and things I held resentments against and found to my surprise some very basic, common things they all held. In the realm of the institutions, it was my shortcomings that were the initiators, making late payments that incurred extra charges was the primary one. It wasn't their fault I didn't make the payments on time... but my anger was at them for "gouging" me with penalties. The real source of my anger was my lack of control of the situation, somehow feeling entitled to special or preferential treatment when other life stuff caused me difficulties and expecting these institutions to alter the way they did business to accommodate me. What an ego!
In the realm of people who have harmed me, after looking at the entire situation I could many times identify MY part in it, and whether they were conscious of their actions or not, it was I who initiated many of those things also. Acerbic comments, all in the guise of just joking around, but I could be very hurtful. When they returned my own attitude, it ticked me off... Looking at my part in this was a revelation to me. I started looking at myself, "If you don't like what's coming back, look at what's going out." When I altered these things, (and it's been work, and it's been slow, but there has been progress) the way people interact with me has changed.
The thing that has altered the most though is that of my own Acceptance. I must accept responsibility for my actions, and be willing to live with the consequences. If I am late paying a bill, I just say now, "well, that cost me." and move on. When others do things that hurt me, I have come to accept that they didn't do it on purpose, they are just human too, and I am more able to release that to my HP and not let it fester in me. Holding on to the resentment is not in my best interest and whether the hurt was intentional or not I simply let it go, forgiving them and myself and trying to alter the way in which I initiate or respond to those people in the future. Sometimes it means removing myself from the situation, I don't go looking for walls to run into. :-)
I am finding more and more that my anger is very short lived now... being able to find "acceptance of the way things are" really dissipates most of the anger for me.. oh, I do still get angry, but I'm no longer afraid of it... I no longer run from it, I look at it and find what is the source and then ask myself, "Is there anything I can do about it? If yes, am I willing?" If the answer was no, then I give it over to my HP. Most of the time now, the anger is alleviated in fairly short order...
The 12 Step program is a path to a spiritual solution to life's happenings. There are behavioral things I can do to help alleviate the chemicals that are produced in my body by the emotions, to work off the adrenalin or other hormones that are released in me, (tools of the program, exercise, etc.) and those are valuable but I have found meditating and praying to be just as effective for me.. to get connected to my HP and seek help in releasing those feelings and frustrations.
Being abstinent has been essential for me, it keeps my head clear and my ability to keep that connection "live". I was getting a little angry this morning about the continuing "clutter" in our house, and my thoughts began running scenarios about the action I would take to "fix" this situation, but it was all "retaliation" mode and not that of "helping" mode.... so I prayed and sat down to write here. I was immediately calmed and solutions as to what I could do to "help" clear the clutter began to surface instead of my raging and just threatening to throw stuff out... so, that discussion will happen at some point, and the anger has left (for now).. this is a recurring situation in my life and learning to accept my spouse with all her own issues is a real test sometimes, but we are making progress.
All the answers for me come from working the program, these 12 steps are the blueprint for living my life, without resorting to substance. In dealing with any problem or challenge, the First step is to identify the source of the challenge, figure out whether I can do anything about it, and if I can, DO IT, if I can't TURN IT OVER... simple huh? Simple but not always easy. What I have found is the "easy" comes as a result of "trust". My life is getting easier and for that I am forever grateful.
love and hugs,
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