Questions for those who have experienced extreme anger as a response to trauma

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outofDEN

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Hello Everyone,

I am seeking guidance and clarity on the topic of extreme anger toward my uBPDm.
This holiday season is exacerbating bad habits that I have tried to break by implementing boundaries and medium chill during every interaction with her.

The context is a life time of dealing with a Witch & Queen combo, and now some Waif too. I am an only child, my uBPDm is divorced, and my grandparents have passed--all of her rage, self-pity, and crises fall on me to fix them for her.

An recent example of the anger I am talking about:
I am not going to see her this holiday for many reasons, which believe to be rationale, such as: COVID, my job with limited time off, and needing someone to watch my dogs. (she expects I fly across the country to see her). This prompts a classic remark from her, "if you really cared about me, you wouldn't be spending the holiday away from me". Here I may normally not react, knowing this is common of her and abusive. Lately however, I utterly explode, in ways that haven't happened in years, where I scream at the top of my lungs and say something horrible to her and later regret it?  It is like an out of body experience.

My therapist once called this a firefighter response, as a result of trauma, and a protection mechanism.

I have seen posts on here about fears about developing PD traits from constant exposure to the PD person. I have this fear now too based on my recent behavior.

I want to know if there is anyone out there who has experienced this extreme rage, and if it has made them question whether they are now the problem instead of the PD?

How do you get back on track when you have broken a boundary, let me PD person invade your mind and make you question your own reality?

Thank you everyone

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Psuedonym

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Yep, I have experienced this degree of rage. I am also the only child of an uPD M. A few years ago, during an exceptionally awful time in which I had to fly across the country and pack up my parents house while my father was dying and M was, as her own T put it: behaving like a toddler throwing a tantrum on the floor, I would call my then BF (now H) everyday, and just vent. I would just let all of my anger out in a stream of cursing, and then I would go back to trying to deal with everything. (If you're super bored you can read my old posts).

Anyway, flash forward a few years, my dad has died and M's behavior has become so bad that I start having panic attacks (right after that I dropped the rope and went NC). A wise friend of mine who's a neuro psychologist explained my reaction (I was afraid I was losing my shit at the time) like this:

If you are a resilient person (which I'm sure you are) you deal with traumatic interactions (and every interaction you have with your mother is traumatizing)  by compartmentalizing them, you sort of store them away in a part of your brain and try to forget about them in order to move on and keep going. However they aren't really gone, they're piling up on top of each other. Every person has a limit of how much stress they can deal with, it's a finite amount, and when you reach a tipping point then weird shit starts to happen. You could be walking down the street and have a panic attack for seemingly nor reason, you could react with extreme anger or rage. The point is, your body has taken over and put you in fight or flight mode, and is telling you that you cannot take any more.

As my dear friend put it, you're having a normal stress reaction to an abnormal situation.

Here's a fun story! One Christmas I did spend a lot of money to fly across the country and use up vacation time to spend a week at Christmas with my parents (as I did every year). The first night I got there M gets on the phone with her T in the other room and very loudly declares that she is 'UNHAPPY BECAUSE SHE THOUGHT THAT WHEN I ARRIVED SHE WOULD FEEL BETTER BUT SHE DOESN'T AND I'M LEAVING IN A WEEK AND SHE DOESN'T LIKE THAT!!!'.  My dad and I just looked at each other and rolled our eyes.  :stars: The waifing thing is I think by far the worst. The endless demands for pity is just....too much not to take for too long.

I'm sorry you going through this and hope this helps a little!

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Wolf

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Your reactions are completely normal, especially if you get along with other people just fine. I also have gotten extremely angry at my mom in the past, and an easy way I can tell that I am not the problem is simply observing the fact that literally no one else I interact with makes me angry. I've basically never gotten angry at anyone else in my life. Now, comparatively, my mom gets angry at everyone she has to interact with regularly. She also blames the people she is closest to for all of her problems, and refuses to acknowledge that she has an anger problem or that she is responsible for her own "problems." Anyway, the fact that I don't get angry at others, yet she does, is a pretty clear indicator that I am not the problem and she is. I would guess the same is true for you. But it is better to just avoid talking to her if you know you will get angry.

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outofDEN

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Your reactions are completely normal, especially if you get along with other people just fine. I also have gotten extremely angry at my mom in the past, and an easy way I can tell that I am not the problem is simply observing the fact that literally no one else I interact with makes me angry. I've basically never gotten angry at anyone else in my life. Now, comparatively, my mom gets angry at everyone she has to interact with regularly. She also blames the people she is closest to for all of her problems, and refuses to acknowledge that she has an anger problem or that she is responsible for her own "problems." Anyway, the fact that I don't get angry at others, yet she does, is a pretty clear indicator that I am not the problem and she is. I would guess the same is true for you. But it is better to just avoid talking to her if you know you will get angry.

This is true and accurate, I tend to get along well with most people. My concern, and another reason I wrote my post, it that this anger sometimes seeps into other areas. I have a healthy relationship with my boyfriend and while having an insignificant tiff about laundry, I had the same uncontrollable explosion.  I wanted to hear from others because I feel like I am going crazy and do not want to damage important relationships which are otherwise healthy.

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outofDEN

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Yep, I have experienced this degree of rage. I am also the only child of an uPD M. A few years ago, during an exceptionally awful time in which I had to fly across the country and pack up my parents house while my father was dying and M was, as her own T put it: behaving like a toddler throwing a tantrum on the floor, I would call my then BF (now H) everyday, and just vent. I would just let all of my anger out in a stream of cursing, and then I would go back to trying to deal with everything. (If you're super bored you can read my old posts).

Anyway, flash forward a few years, my dad has died and M's behavior has become so bad that I start having panic attacks (right after that I dropped the rope and went NC). A wise friend of mine who's a neuro psychologist explained my reaction (I was afraid I was losing my shit at the time) like this:

If you are a resilient person (which I'm sure you are) you deal with traumatic interactions (and every interaction you have with your mother is traumatizing)  by compartmentalizing them, you sort of store them away in a part of your brain and try to forget about them in order to move on and keep going. However they aren't really gone, they're piling up on top of each other. Every person has a limit of how much stress they can deal with, it's a finite amount, and when you reach a tipping point then weird shit starts to happen. You could be walking down the street and have a panic attack for seemingly nor reason, you could react with extreme anger or rage. The point is, your body has taken over and put you in fight or flight mode, and is telling you that you cannot take any more.

As my dear friend put it, you're having a normal stress reaction to an abnormal situation.

Here's a fun story! One Christmas I did spend a lot of money to fly across the country and use up vacation time to spend a week at Christmas with my parents (as I did every year). The first night I got there M gets on the phone with her T in the other room and very loudly declares that she is 'UNHAPPY BECAUSE SHE THOUGHT THAT WHEN I ARRIVED SHE WOULD FEEL BETTER BUT SHE DOESN'T AND I'M LEAVING IN A WEEK AND SHE DOESN'T LIKE THAT!!!'.  My dad and I just looked at each other and rolled our eyes.  :stars: The waifing thing is I think by far the worst. The endless demands for pity is just....too much not to take for too long.

I'm sorry you going through this and hope this helps a little!

This is so helpful. Thank you

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Boat Babe

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I used to scream and shout at my mother, into my twenties. It was all reactive as far as I can remember. She frustrated me beyond measure and then I would totally lose my brown stuff and yell like a banshee. Really unhealthy dynamic. My anger could also leap out in public, if I felt slighted. A right case of fleas I had back then.

With time, therapy, having a baby and more time, the anger is much abated and I don't lose control when mum pushes my buttons. But I don't see her often.
It gets better. It has to.

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Wolf

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Your reactions are completely normal, especially if you get along with other people just fine. I also have gotten extremely angry at my mom in the past, and an easy way I can tell that I am not the problem is simply observing the fact that literally no one else I interact with makes me angry. I've basically never gotten angry at anyone else in my life. Now, comparatively, my mom gets angry at everyone she has to interact with regularly. She also blames the people she is closest to for all of her problems, and refuses to acknowledge that she has an anger problem or that she is responsible for her own "problems." Anyway, the fact that I don't get angry at others, yet she does, is a pretty clear indicator that I am not the problem and she is. I would guess the same is true for you. But it is better to just avoid talking to her if you know you will get angry.

This is true and accurate, I tend to get along well with most people. My concern, and another reason I wrote my post, it that this anger sometimes seeps into other areas. I have a healthy relationship with my boyfriend and while having an insignificant tiff about laundry, I had the same uncontrollable explosion.  I wanted to hear from others because I feel like I am going crazy and do not want to damage important relationships which are otherwise healthy.
I think it's normal to get mad over small stuff sometimes. The fact that you wanna stop getting mad is a good sign because PDs always think their anger is justified and never apologize. I'm sure you're normal

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IRedW77

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Wolf is spot on. The simple fact that youíre even worrying about it says youíre not like her. NOTHING is ever their fault and the are ALWAYS right to be however angry they get.

You got to grow up watching mom rage at the drop of a hat, so a part of tiny you learned thatís what normal people do. So youíve got to shake that off first.

You also got to be powerless to defend yourself and just internalize all of your LEGITIMATE anger at the way you were being treated. All of that anger is still in there somewhereómy T called it ďfrozen rageĒ.

Iíve seen the same thing a bunch of times on here now ďIím really easy going otherwiseĒ. Are we all really easy going, or are we emotionally repressed across the spectrum (sorry, Iím questioning that right now).

I am really easy going, but there are two things that set me off:

1. I have fleas of childish rage when I donít get my way. The restaurant I want to eat at doesnít have what I usually eatóhistorically I lose my brown stuff. Thatís what BPD mom would do. When you donít get your way over something trivial you rage. When itís less than trivial I always have a healthier reaction. But itís been insane and amazing how quickly that rage has gone now that I see where it comes from.

2. Is defensive rage. When someone loses their temper at me I lose it right back. Thatís how I learned to defend myself from BPD mom. Itís totally unhealthy with almost anyone else.

But as Iíve been learning Iím discovering hidden wellsprings of anger in me that I just didnít know were there. I think itís just part of the process, but itís terrifying. Itís a loss of control, and like everyone says ďIím really easy going otherwiseĒ.

So I certainly hear where youíre coming from. Just keep other innocents around you informed about whatís going on with you where you can.

I used to have that kind of uncontrollable rage you describe towards my BPD mom, but at some point I just emotionally disconnected from her altogetherógood and bad.

Lastly, I wish there was more space, and maybe I should just start a thread, for only children. As Iíve read here our experience can be different.

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Hilltop

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Yep I have gone through periods of extreme anger and have a couple of times exploded at my parents in the past.  Firstly forgive yourself and find that compassion for yourself within.  The constant contact with your mother is going to have an affect on you and sometimes that stress bumbles over. 

You wrote: This prompts a classic remark from her, "if you really cared about me, you wouldn't be spending the holiday away from me". Here I may normally not react, knowing this is common of her and abusive.

Intellectually we know this is about them however underneath we have all sorts of inbuilt triggers which we react to without even knowing it.  You exploded in anger, ok, that anger is telling you something.  What?  Underneath do you feel guilty, are you hearing that you are a bad child to your parent, underneath are you hearing you aren't doing enough, it's not good enough etc.  What is the real message you are hearing because that is what you are reacting to.  Your mother instilled this message into you, she built this trigger into you so you need to recognise what it is and then untangle it.

I have found that I am starting to look at my parents behaviour and really question it.   Your mothers feelings are her own, her opinion is her own and her belief's are her own however we are trained to take their feelings onboard.  We are trained to think we are responsible for their feelings, it feels so natural we don't even question it.  In reality their emotions are there's and our emotions are ours.  Intellectually we understand this but underneath it's an automatic response hence the explosive anger as it's too much to deal with.

My parents mock me and I have taken that onboard, felt hurt, gotten angry, I haven't really questioned it, I have taken it personally and felt it because underneath I guess I feel like their opinion matters and is the truth.  At the moment I am now starting to question it and think well they mock my lifestyle, ok, my life is different to theirs and that's ok, do I want to live their lifestyle, no, do I think it's ok people have different lifestyles, yes, so really them mocking me for being different to them is just silly, it's actually them being weird not me.  They have different views but do I mock them, no, so I now see that them mocking me is not about me but about their inability to accept differences in other people.  They mock my career and the end result is the same, it comes down to their inability to see different perspectives, they can certainly disagree with others but why mock just because someone does something different, that's on them, not me and so in the end, I am now able to start leaving that with them and I am learning not take it on board so much.  In saying that I also needed distance to get to here.

Same with your mother.  She chooses to see it as you are not caring because you can't come.  Well do you think you don't care because you can't come or do you believe it simply isn't doable at the moment.  You have valid reasons for not being able to go.  So really look at this, don't take on your mothers feelings and perceptions.  Would you expect others to come to you even if it was difficult for them or would you say ok, see you when it's a better time.  Look at it from your own perspective and try to understand that the message your mother is giving isn't one you should be taking on board.  What is the hidden message underneath it all?  What do you really feel like she is really saying to you?

For me I got to the explosive rage part because I simply wasn't dealing with the emotions attached to it all.  Not reacting, medium chill, ok they are tactics but if you then don't deal with the emotions they get stuff down and explode up.  After the rage when I still didn't deal with my emotions I ended up a little depressed and deflated, just empty.  Now I am dealing with it and already I am feeling better, very slowly but better.

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IRedW77

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Transcribing the hidden message is good advice for learning how to keep your PD from adding onto your reservoir of anger.

However, there is also kind of anger on top of anger at the end of the day. You have all this (very legitimate) unprocessed anger towards your PD and thereís anger on top of that about it being pointless.

With a non-PD you can get angry and cleanse yourself and learn about the situation that made you angry. Maybe you were right to be angry and you get an apology. Maybe you were wrong and you learn about your mistake and you give an apology. Maybe youíre both wrong and everyone gives an apology. No matter what thereís a resolution.

Iím angry at my PD for everything she ever did that I wasnít allowed to be angry about, but at the end of the day Iím also angry that there will never be any resolution from her.

I may as well get angry at the ocean for the waves. Itís so frustratingóanger on top of anger. And just oh so much of it. But I see the bigger picture, and you see the bigger picture because youíre capable of being self aware. 

If you stay self aware thereís nothing wrong with you that canít be mended and youíre nothing like your PD.

Better yet you can decode the hidden messages as Hilltop suggests. Then you can make your own resolution with your own self-knowledge and the self-knowledge that your PD is incapable of having.

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SunnyMeadow

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I have gone through this extreme anger as well. Which is weird because I'm afraid to make my mother angry and cause problems so I can't explain my explosive anger toward her. And I'm sort of powerless to hold back when she pisses me off. I can get angry with other people but it isn't anywhere near the rage I feel toward my mother.

To me I assume it's because she is the only person who causes me any issues and it's so unfair that I explode. Odd that my mother will take it from me too. 

The whole relationship and her is behavior is  :stars:



« Last Edit: December 24, 2020, 10:47:10 AM by SunnyMeadow »

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sandpiper

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Yes. It's part of the C-PTSD.
I did a lot of group stuff for recovery, with a counselling service for families of veterans. The T had done specialist study in trauma & PTSD and she said that people with PTSD have a naturally short fuse because of the combination of stressors and the physiological reactions that leave you primed for the fight/flight/freeze/faun response to the adrenalin rush.
She said that healthy people start their day at a stress level of maybe around 3/10. People with trauma & PTSD generally wake up at 7/10 because they haven't slept well and we carry a 'charge' from all the adrenalin in our system.
I've had a few rounds of acute PTSD experiences in this life, the first one took about 18 months to process & 3 years to calm down and the second one - much worse thanks to my FOO exacerbating it by the crazymaking, gaslighting, lies and 'poking the bear' - took about twice as long to work through. I don't think I slept more than 2 or 3 hours every night for about three years during the second episode. It was hellish and not helped by having awful neighbours who liked to party and disturbed what little sleep I did get.

You can get through this, it's a matter of working with the trauma and working on developing different responses. I didn't know how to set boundaries when I first started T and my boundaries were very weak so there were people who would just pay absolutely no attention to me until I lost the entire bag of horse hockey. Something I have learned is to watch for repeat boundary violators and personalities who like to play ''Poke the Bear" as it pays to reduce contact with this type. They don't change and they take satisfaction in pushing your buttons so that they can go ''oh wow she has some problems' and it allows them to completely avoid the responsibility for taking a long hard look in the mirror and dealing with their own.

One thing I've learned is that I'm psychologically allergic to disordered FOO. Initially I started T and put a lot of effort into learning to communicate better so that I could function better with all the crap inside my family. It helped to put my life on a much better trajectory but I was puzzled when my new skills just made dealing with FOO even harder. My T called this 'Change/NO! Change Back' and said that it's common for disordered families to try to sabotage your attempts to set healthy boundaries and they aren't comfortable when you try to change as it exposes their dysfunction. My family are never going to change and in the end I just stepped back and left them to it. The last time I ran into a cousin it gave me an asthma attack. I've come to accept that my body has trauma reactions to FOO and its OK for me to avoid them. 
My T asked me, over 20 years ago 'If you weren't related to these people, how much time would you spend with them?'
Me, without missing a beat 'None. If I wasn't related to them I'd cross the road to avoid them if I saw them coming.'

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Blueberry Pancakes

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Yes, me too. You state "I have a healthy relationship with my boyfriend and while having an insignificant tiff about laundry, I had the same uncontrollable explosion.  I wanted to hear from others because I feel like I am going crazy and do not want to damage important relationships which are otherwise healthy." 
 
Also, i too noticed extreme rage would rise up in me and I knew the situation did not warrant it. I would usually just let it go, but would feel like I let others take advantage of me. Other times I would go off on a verbal tirade then always feel embarrassed and regretful. I did notice a pattern. It did seep into areas beyond my FOO, and I worried about it destroying other areas of my life.   
       
I think having awareness of it which you seem to have is very helpful. As stated by others, I think that in itself means you will not become like that. You can notice those feelings as they arise, know it is not the current situation, and pull back. Having governance over that is huge. People with PD do not do that.   
   
I always wondered if my "rage" was from a childhood of unexpressed anger. We felt anger to situations that rationally caused this feeling, but were not safe to express it.  It later finds a way out that seems safer such as with a SO or even a complete stranger.

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Sidney37

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I, too, have found myself have extreme anger as a result of being raised by my PDm.  I'm finally understanding that for me, the rage attacks that I've had over countless years seems to be tied to being shamed or guilt tripped by my PDm.  Now that she isn't in my life, I still hear her voice in my head telling how every move I make and every decision that I make is wrong and the consequences are all my fault.  I'm shaming myself at this point.

I posted about it in a different post on this board about extreme guilt.  I feel guilty about everything. 
https://www.outofthefog.net/forum/index.php?topic=86907.0

Once I feel guilt and shame, the anger part takes over and gets really furious.  Often the situation doesn't warrant it, but I hear that voice of my mother telling me how whatever it is is all my fault, that she wouldn't have done whatever I did, because she would have known better and I get furiously angry at myself and everyone around me. 

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JustKathy

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I've also experienced outbursts of rage, though it was never directed at my PD parents. Growing up, I was always afraid to fight back and would internalize everything, usually going to my room and crying.

Flash forward after going NC, and I find myself exploding over an argument with my husband, or even someone on social media attacking me. I'll scream and throw things, then afterward, don't have much awareness of what I've done. It's almost an out-of-body experience. I have GAD and C-PTSD and no longer sleep well, so as someone else pointed out, that's probably contributing to it. I also have random panic attacks when I'm in calm situations, like walking my dog or watching a movie. They come without warning and are truly terrifying.

I always hate myself when I have these fits of anger. It scares me because it reminds me of my Nmother's rage. I have to keep stepping back and telling myself that it's being caused by illnesses that were brought on by trauma that she inflicted.

I know I'm not my mother. This is something my mother did to me:'(

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Phoenix Rising

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Something that has helped me in a similar situation is to think about how I am with other people. It also has helped me to think about what happened when I did get angry with the PDs and how that may relate to the abuse suffered. When the PDs in my life and past have baited me and the incidents piled up, I'd have an outburst. This has never happened with my healthy family, acquaintances, friends, coworkers or strangers. Just with the PDs. If you find you are raging with someone else, it may help (if possible) to think on of that situation was similar to a past experience of abuse. Sometimes even things that seem minor from the past are triggering in different situations in our present

I am beginning to understand now as I work to manage CPTSD that I have endured so much abuse over the years that my body is set to fight/freeze/fawn at any time, especially during moments that resemble the PD abuse. The anger is a CPTSD response.
And here you are living despite it all..

Know this: the person who did this to you is broken. Not you... I will not watch you collapse

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Kiki81

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Also an only child.

What you and the others wrote is why I'm strict NC.

Before NC, when I was VLC, I was always in an activated state: Easily irritated by other people, road rage -y, unpeaceful in my mind and soul. I was either trying to deal with the after effects of contact with my PDparents or steeling myself for an upcoming contact.

I no longer ask this of myself. My life is my own in every way. I'm not angry at anyone. I have a vastly better relationship with my husband and also my friends.

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makingachange

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Hi!

I am also an only child of a covert narcissist mother and enabler father.  I have been so angry with my mother for so long...I have found that it is honestly hard to even look at her because I feel this anger and bitterness.  I feel that because of our childhood's and because of how we are treated even as adults, it wears on us heavily.

I have recently just went gray rock, and I am hoping that this will hopefully bring some peace to me. 

I'm sorry that you are harboring this anger, and I do hope that you can find some peace as well!!  <3  =)