I hurt for a long time because of childhood sexual abuse. Now I want to provide a safe place for hurting men to connect with other survivors of sexual abuse. Talk to us. You don't have to use your real name to share your experiences or ask questions.

Sideways Anger

Most of us struggle with anger on some level.

Anger that 

* we were molested; 

* no one stepped in to save us; 

* no one believed us;

* no one loved us.

Despite the obvious reasons for being irate, some of us don't even know we're incensed. Or I can speak for myself. I had no awareness that I was an angry person. Sometimes the ire popped out—temporarily—but I made no connection that I was an infuriated individual.

If we're angry, it will come out—directly or indirectly. A good way to look at our anger level is to eavesdrop on our own conversation. What do we say about other people? Do we blame the government? Others at work? Those expressions are what I call the sideways anger.

They flow out in unexpected and unrecognized forms such as sarcasm, criticism, speaking our piece, or "just being frank."

About a year after I started my healing journey, I finally admitted my anger. Part of acknowledgment was because I lived among conservative Christians who mistakenly thought it was sinful to be angry. And I believe they were wrong. The apostle Paul wrote, "In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you're still angry" (Ephesians 4:26 TNIV).

Merely to acknowledge my outrage was a release. I had held it inside for a long time, feeling that if I let go I might kill someone. When I confessed that to my best friend, David, he said, "You're more than 50 years old and you haven't killed anyone yet." That was a marvelous release for me.

Sometimes I need to be angry, but I also need to know what I'm disturbed about.


Mark said...

My anger went inward, at least initially.

I believe that my early fantasies, which eventually became homosexual fantasies, were an inward expression of anger and rage towards the men who abused me. Fantasizing gave me the illusion that I had control. And in those fantasizes, men were not treated well, rather they were treated with rage and contempt. I was getting revenge, at least in my mind.

As an adult I was addicted to homosexual pornography for over two decades. I still struggle with homosexual fantasy and masturbation. One function of these sexual addictions was to keep me from having to face and deal honestly with my anger towards those who abused me, towards those who didn't rescue me, and towards God.

Learning to acknowledge my anger in healthy ways is one of the steps that brings me gradual but true release and freedom from my pain.

Roger Mann said...

Some time back I wrote about my anger at my younger self. I never really stopped to examine that but when a counselor finally had me look at that. I was really stricken that I not only had been angry at my father but angry at me as a 10 year old boy too quite unfairly.

Even at 15 I knew I was an angry person. I could not really articulate it or understand it fully but I knew. And yes it did come out sideways. I was sarcastic, arrogant, prideful and used my bile to put down others many times unfairly. Some of it was obvious overcompensation for the wretchedness I felt for myself. I was impatient with the failures of others because I could not stand them in myself. I was never allowed to express my anger at home. Whenever I attempted to let it out it was met with immediate backhand or belt.

It has taken a long time to accept the anger inside me. Part of that I think is due to the PTSD that I had left untreated for so long. Little injustices would trigger an over-the-top reaction that even I was uncomfortable with. My wife is helping me to catch that trigger early and recognize it for what it is. That has helped me to abort it but I still find it lurking under the surface and I have to be careful.

I guess we do need at some point to address the anger, let it out and get on with living a peaceful life. There is hope and I do want to find that peace and will with help.

Cec Murphey said...

Again, Mark and Roger, your transparent comments on this topic can help so many men. Your words reinforce my own resolution in facing myself. I wish I had had known both of you when I was in the worst part of my struggles.

Dan said...

Well that hit the nail on the head!
I can relate to being angry most all of my life. as a child I seemed to please everyone, but that made me bitter and more angry at times. As an adult my actions have been very similar. I did have sideways anger, and I have often been accused by others of being too direct or blunt. I didn't recognize where it came from until recently.
My first order of business is to recognize my triggers, recognize my anger, along with my surroundings. Then take a step back and evaluate my approach to the situation, or to others. I don't always do that well, but I'm working on it. My pastor who is also my Dr. says my emotions are like a flesh wound that has been ripped open, and those feelings are very painful when poked, pushed on etc.. It is now my responsibility to work at managing those things or triggers.
Thanks guys for all your comments. I don't feel alone!

Cec Murphey said...

Dan, thank you also for your honest and incisive comments. Your comment reads like it's from a man traveling down the healing highway. Keep going!

Dan said...

I am very greatful for your honesty and your site here. I first heard you on Focus on the Family while I was at work and was moved to tears often while listening to you and Gary. Right after the program I downloaded the book, and wow was it a great source of help and inspiration. Keep up all the great work. God is using you, and maybe me, to bring healing to many more.

Larry Clemson said...

I used to think a good Christian didn't get angry. I realize I compressed & held it in. The road of healing I've been realizing it's better to admit it, confess it & give it to God. He really is helping me through it! Being angry at my self has been the biggest obstacle to overcome for me. As a teen I would look in the mirror & flip myself off & say quietly "I hate You" - It's still hard at times. Learning to trust God with this.

Cec Murphey said...

You guys are so open on this forum.
Thank you. Larry, I'm sorry you felt such self-hatred. I certainly loathed myself, but I wasn't able to say I hate myself, but the feeling was there.

Thank you, brave souls.