I seem to be dealing with angrophobia

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bookend

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I seem to be dealing with angrophobia
« on: June 18, 2021, 06:33:23 AM »
Hello.  My last post was a year and a half ago, in 2019 January, and I only stayed briefly to write about something that I had experienced then.  Most of my activity was in 2012, which is when it was pointed out to me by a therapist I was consulting at the time that my mother was likely a BPD.  Until I came back again today, I had somehow not realized that 9 years have already passed since that moment of initial discovery.  I remember that at the time I was desperate to work out my 'issues' as quickly and efficiently as possible, but as it turns out, I am still hardly finished with the work of understanding the damage that being raised by a BPD mother has done to me. 

9 years ago, a concern that I had that I had wished to resolve was the self-recognized tendency in myself to self-isolate.  I had no idea why I was doing this, and for a long time, I just simply did not know why I did this.  But, as the subject line indicates, I think I have a simple answer, and that is angrophobia.  In other words, I avoid people so that I can protect myself from feeling angry. 

In my childhood years, it was very common for me to be witness to terrible fights between my mother and my father.  My mother, being a BPD, would pick a fight with my co-dependent father so that she could create instability, and arguments that would last for 5-6 hours would ensue after my father had come home from work.  Although the night would begin with a battle of words, this would ultimately culminate in a moment where my father would become so enraged  that he would repeatedly shout 'I'm going to kill you, I'm going to kill you' and further to the moment when he would slap my mother in the face or kick her body, at which point my mother would finally, finally shut up, and the fight would end.  This was, in hindsight, what my mother wanted because she could then claim that she was the victim of domestic violence.  My mother would sometimes dress up her face with blue eye shadow to make it look like her face was bruised.  I well recall that the next day, my father would hand about the house with a look of shame.   

Even though the blue eye shadow detail makes light of these argument episodes, as a child, as I was somehow put into the position of the audience and was forced to watch my parents argue, I did seriously worry that this was, finally, going to be the night that my father's rage would get the better of him, and he would REALLY hit my mother so seriously that she would really die.  My father's rage was that palpably real to me, and I would imagine what would happen to me if my father did, out of sheer uncontrollable rage, accidentally kill my mother.  I lived in fear that this then would cause my father to also kill me, in order to get rid of any witnesses to his crime. 

Sometimes, my parents would gang up on me and, as a team, 'discipline' me as a bad child, but I think that personally, it was more psychologically damaging for me to watch my parents fighting.  When my parents were ganging up on me, they, at least, presented themselves as a team to me, and there was, at least, no question of my father killing my mother, which meant that my father would not find it necessary to kill me. 

So, as a result of these childhood experiences, I think it was that I came to become afraid of becoming angry itself. 

Quite recently, I was briefly in talk therapy again to again work on why it is that I cut people out of my life.  I had for the past 2 years increasingly become unable to even have simple communication with students (I am a university lecturer), and it was becoming even more of a serious problem than before.  And so I started to talk to a therapist about it, and I figured out that I had actually been accumulating a lot of anger against students.  I had had students who blatantly refused to do assignments and still behaved as if they expected to get a passing grade because they were paying tuition and my salary came from their tuition, a student who plagiarized and when confronted, pretended to not know that plagiarizing was bad, and a student who claimed that she had decided to take a year out of her studies because I had taken a very scary attitude to her when I tried to dissuade her from pursuing a career as a shop clerk at a clothing store!  I had indeed advised against her pursuing a career as a shop clerk at a clothing store but only because I thought she could probably find a better paying employment.

Anyways, in all the above instances, when I was dealing with students, I had not shown my anger toward the students.  I had simply repressed my anger and had calmly explained my position and had even APOLOGIZED in some instances.  I had not, in fact, not been conscious of how angry I felt, because, I guess I have angrophobia.  But, I was actually quite angry, unbeknownst to my conscious mind, and so that then meant that communicating to students was becoming too dangerous as this was likely going to trigger anger on my part. 

Looking back, I guess this is related to another issue I have, to not be able to maintain my boundary and maintain self-respect, of not being able to defend myself against disrespect by calling out bad behavior.

Most days my emotions reside in a state of numbness, but  today, I am somehow able to be aware of the weariness of my soul.  I can actually feel the pain that my brain is straining under.  And I can see that I am in a state of sadness.  And so today, I came to share it here. 

Thank  you for reading.     
I will create doors in my boundaries!

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Boat Babe

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Re: I seem to be dealing with angrophobia
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2021, 08:17:20 AM »
Ooh, you're carrying a lot of emotions and pain my dear.

Can I suggest you make a real commitment to yourself and your wellbeing by putting some serious self-care into your life. Lots of physical activities/exercise if your health allows it, some creative pursuits and some good trauma based therapy.

I found that the enforced isolation and slowing down because of Covid meant that I had the chance to do a lot of this work, much more than usual, and it made a huge difference to my internal landscape.

We can motivate you 😁
It gets better. It has to.

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Sneezy

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Re: I seem to be dealing with angrophobia
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2021, 04:49:55 PM »
I'm so sad to hear what you went through.  The way your parents behaved, how could you ever feel content, safe, and at peace?  I'm not surprised that a whole range of emotions are swirling around and in you, including anger.  Sometimes anger is how we first realize that something isn't or wasn't right.  It can be a useful emotion in that sense, but it can also overwhelm you and hurt you if it goes on for a long time.

Can you continue with therapy?  Do you have a trusted therapist that you can work with?  There are things you can do on your own, and this forum is a great place to get ideas and feedback.  As Boat Babe says, self-care is essential.  In addition, a good therapist can also help you understand what happened and work on gaining some peace. 

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bets

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Re: I seem to be dealing with angrophobia
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2021, 06:49:34 PM »
I don't have any advice, but I would like to thank you for posting. I never knew there was anyone else like me, who found it hard/scary to get angry. I never knew there was a term angrophobia.

There was violence in my childhood home, too (violent father/dependent, enabling mother). Several times a week there were incidents, not all violent per se, but all of them seemed capable of turning into violence. There was a lot of violence towards me, too, once I reached adolescence.

I was always taught to tolerate and remain silent about these incidents. I was also taught that (somehow) it was all my fault. I was also taught that I should tolerate bad behavior without a word. These lessons, combined with the very scary violence, became ingrained in me so deeply that I don't get angry today when my family treats me badly. Unlike you, though, I am able to get angry at employees, acquaintances, doctors, etc when they treat me badly. I'm not sure why.  But you would not believe the garbage I have taken from my siblings without getting angry, in fact, I have struggled to reconnect over and over. I've been like a dog who's been kicked and still wants to be friends.

Maybe you have difficulty getting angry at your students because you are concerned about your employment? In any event, do you believe you should get angry at them, or would firm boundaries be more appropriate (no judgment, I am just wondering myself)? For example, if your student is so offended by your advice about being a shop clerk that she wants to take a year off, that's her call. If someone does no work and demands a passing grade, just say no firmly and move on. Does that make sense or am I off base?