It was eleven o’clock on a Tuesday morning, and Raul, a thirty-six-year-old property developer was struggling to keep his mind focused on the high powered meeting he had organized. He felt sluggish, his mind wandered and he could barely keep track of the agenda items he was supposed to bring to the table. For the last six months he had felt lethargic and uninterested in things that he usually enjoyed. He stopped playing squash with his best mate, and he rarely went out on Friday nights with his interior designer wife Pat to their favorite restaurant as they used to do. His day-to-day routine felt awkward, as if he were undertaking something foreign. His autopilot stopped working and he had to force himself to think hard about the simplest of things over and over again.
Returning from a trip abroad, thirty-seven-year-old Natalie was full of enthusiasm and energy to kick start her career in the creative arts. She had jotted down a ton of ideas including doing a workshop online about writing comedy scripts; doing improvisation, teaching acting at night school and finishing a script that she started 2 years ago. But within four days she wanted to do anything but tackle her list. She wanted to talk to friends, go to a spa, do yoga and cook, but not move forward with her career steps. Tired of this up and down pattern of excitement followed by a crash, Natalie was acutely aware of her shame and disappointment, despite working on herself for some years. No matter what steps she took and how determined she was, she went from feeling full of desire and motivation to feeling listless when it came to her scripts, workshops, etc. It all felt too much to manage. Then a dream came along that helped her understand what was holding her back.
The reunion between 43-year-old Petra and her two dogs when she got back home from an extended horse riding weekend on a Wyoming ranch was warm and rewarding, except for the serious outbreak of hives on her arms, chest and neck that itched, and made her feel ugly. She couldn’t sleep, waiting for the morning to arrive so she could see her doctor and get answers to the questions swimming around in her head about why she was suddenly afflicted with this nasty outbreak – obviously she was allergic to something, but what? She had never had hives before, and the fact that it was so visible made her feel that she was being punished for leaving her workplace, and her dogs, which she rarely did.. Now, just when she was taking time out to enjoy herself, she gets slapped with hives!
For the seventh time in less than a minute twenty-five year old Denise, a proof reader, found herself checking that she had marked the page she ended on before she closed the book. Each time she put the book down and tried to get out of her chair a huge wave of anxiety and panic swept over her. She couldn’t be sure she had marked the last page she had read and that meant that she would have to start the book all over again. As the panic washed over her she ‘knew’ that she had marked the page but she wasn’t positive until she had checked again. A blanket of relief came over her when she found the page marked, but it was instantly replaced by another dose of doubt that started the checking cycle all over again. It was as if she couldn’t hold on to that proof for more than a Nano second. Irritation and annoyance gave her a break from the anxiety and panic, but she was exhausted with these obsessive doubts, and her compulsive checking.
If your partner is threatening to leave if you don’t go to anger management therapy, then you are probably trying to be quiet and unassuming to avoid risking an angry outburst. But ironically you are only making it more likely that you will have more angry explosions, more often and of a fiercer nature.
Do you panic when you can't control your anger despite going to anger management classes? Do you hate yourself when you fly off the handle and act like someone from your past that you have tried so hard to avoid? Is your explosive anger destroying your important relationships and items of expensive equipment that you value? Is the anxiety about failing now bigger than the anger itself? Are you ready to really deal with the anger rather than just bury it, whip it into shape or squish it?
Are you wanting comfort and security with your loved ones but not able to get it by being good, quiet, patient and hopeful? Do you get mad and envious when you see other fully grown adults get pampered and taken care of when they whine and complain? Do you wish you could get away with that? Perhaps you have been harboring a secret wish that your loved ones would just do their job and love you the way they should, so that you didn't have to work so hard at getting them to even notice you.
Are you angry about having to do all the work in your relationship? Do you feel like protesting against always having to take the initiative? Perhaps the only way to protest is to shut down and hope your partner will miss you enough to bring you back to life. But it doesn't work, so you get even more angry and you get told that you have anger issues that you need to get fixed. You are told that you need to go to anger management and that you really need to learn to control your anger. But you feel justified in your anger. You just can't take one more step towards working in the relationship and letting your partner get away with not doing anything.
When you are angry most of the time it's very wearing and tough to live with. You just want to numb it out so you can get on with the day. But when you go numb you get into a dark place. You get depressed and become isolated. It's good not to feel all that anger and other stuff but it's lonely, empty and demotivating. You want to come out of that dark place and connect with people but you don't want to bring all that anger that makes you so uncomfortable. In that depressing place you can't tell the difference between anger, frustration, irritability or guilt. Everything gets blurred and keeps you sealed up in listless depressing mood. But what if you could discover all the underlying emotions that got mushed into anger and use them to be an active player in your life?
The first disappointment came when Nancy didn't want to go with Faith to planned social events. It was as if Nancy was ashamed to be associated with her. The second let down was harder to swallow. Nancy never asked about Faith's job, her relationship with Bruno, or their future plans. Nancy used Faith's house as a hotel and didn't bother with even the most basic of social graces. Any efforts on Faith's part to confide in Nancy met with the same critical hostility and dismissal that her mother doled out. There was no togetherness, no reminiscing, no sisterhood.