I’m Angry A Lot: 1in6 Thursdays on the Joyful Heart Foundation Blog
I met him at a writers’ conference and he showed me a book he had written. The writing wasn’t bad, but I paused from my reading to ask, “Why are you so enraged? You seem to be against everything.”
He said nothing at first, but the tightness of his jaw told me. “I’m angry a lot,” he finally said.
“It shows in your writing.”
We talked and finally his tears flowed. He told me about his childhood abuse. I’ve met other men like him. They tend to focus their anger in three different ways.
The most obvious is toward the person who abused them. Second, they’re angry at themselves—because they mistakenly blame themselves “for letting it happen.” A third target is the adults who didn’t protect them from their predators.
I’ve met a few survivors who don’t focus on those targets. Instead, they’re generally angry at the world. Sometimes they live in denial of the abuse. It’s as if the anger goes underground and comes to the surface in an area where it’s safe to feel rage. Our spouses. Our children. Our bosses or neighbors.
A major step in our healing is to focus on our anger. When I realized I carried deep inner anger toward my perpetrators, my best friend listened to me for months. Gently, he helped me open up to the fury below the surface. Others accomplish this through mutual-help groups. Many through therapy. The method isn’t important, only the result.
One friend faced his inner anger after he joined a 12-step program. The first step says we are powerless over drugs (in his case). “At about the fifth meeting,” he said, “I finally heard those words, ‘We admitted we were powerless’ and I stopped, unable to continue.”
That was the beginning of his healing.
Many of us male survivors know about anger. For a long time, we couldn’t grasp why we were upset, but we knew the feeling.
For me, I lived in denial of my abuse for a long, long time—until I felt safe enough to acknowledge my inner rage and to talk about it. Facing the abuse also enabled me to face the anger and to start coping with it.
By Cecil Murphey
Cecil Murphey wrote, When a Man You Love Was Abused and Not Quite Healed with survivor Gary Roe. Murphey is the author or coauthor of 137 books including international best sellers, 90 Minutes in Heaven and Gifted Hands: the Ben Carson Story. His latest book is Stolen: The True Story of a Sex Trafficking Survivor, written with Katariina Rosenblatt.