Sacred Feminine &
Sacred Masculine

Page 9

(Main Links of the site are right at the bottom of the page)
The 36 pages in this Sacred Feminine & Sacred Masculine section are below.

Healing From the Anger of Abuse
By EaglesHand

I have been following the wonderful, healing threads about PTSD, anger, grief, and the healing of wounded healers that have been developing here in the last few weeks with awe and appreciation. The amount of compassion and healing that is exhibited has been inspiring. As I have read of the experiences of others and the measures they have taken to heal I have been struck by the struggles to heal from anger - both destructive anger directed at an individual and the anger generated in an individual by the abuse or trauma they have lived through. And I know for myself how hard it is to really let go of anger... to weed it out of the garden of one's psyche.

I, too, was a battered wife - I left the day after he had broken my jaw after having shouted hours of corrosive abuse at me. While going through the divorce that followed he continued to heap abuse on me and at one time threatened to kill me - fortunately that time there were witnesses to his threats. But I was so angry and frightened of him that trying to talk with him, even with attorneys present, was very difficult. I would either cry or shake. So I had to find ways to let go of the emotions that fueled the unhelpful responses. One thing I did was join a Jazzercise class. There was one exercise that involved arm movements like boxing... I would imagine his face 6 inches closer to me than the end of my arm... and punch away. To all outward appearances I was just exercising. But internally I was working off my anger and fear. Another thing I was able to do was some kick boxing .... LOL well, I was living in a dormitory at the time which had a very long hall way. During vacations when no students were around I would run up and down the halls in my stocking feet screaming - and aim kicks at the walls and imagine his stomach or knees or back side right where my foot would land. Now - and then - it is not in my nature to be physically aggressive with anyone. I had no desire to physically hurt him - but I did need to work off the built up anger that was inside of me.

Above I mentioned "destructive anger" for I believe there are different types of anger... some destructive and some quite helpful and even protective. Destructive anger IMO comes when the motivation is to deliberately hurt someone else - either to show power over someone or to control or just because..... I am sure we are all aware that there are individuals who enjoy inflicting pain and maybe you have encountered such individuals. But what I wanted to talk about here isn't that kind of anger. Even the anger that comes from being threatened, or having your feelings hurt, or the fear response that comes from traumatic events and gets covered up by anger can leave residuals that become corrosive over time.

Anger and it's closely related emotional relative - fear - come from a specific physiological reaction - the Fight or Flight reaction - produced by chemicals in the body such as adrenaline, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. Every vertebrate creature has this same chemical process built into their nervous system!!! So what do these chemicals do?

Fight or flight effects include:
* Our senses sharpening. Pupils dilate (open out) so we can see more clearly, even in darkness. Our hairs stand on end, making us more sensitive to our environment (and also making us appear larger, hopefully intimidating our opponent). Our hearing becomes more acute and our sense of smell also becomes enhanced.

* The cardio-vascular system leaping into action, with the heart pump rate going from one up to five gallons per minutes and our arteries constricting to maximize pressure around the system whilst the veins open out to ease return of blood to the heart.

* The respiratory system joining in as the lungs, throat and nostrils open up and breathing speeding up to get more air in the system so the increased blood flow can be re-oxygenated. The blood carries oxygen to the muscles, allowing them to work harder. Deeper breathing also helps us to scream more loudly!

* Fat from fatty cells and glucose from the liver being metabolized to create instant energy. Blood vessels to the kidney and digestive system being constricted, effectively shutting down systems that are not essential. A part of this effect is reduction of saliva in the mouth. The bowels and bladder may also open out to reduce the need for other internal actions (this might also dissuade our attackers!). Also the reproductive system shuts down.

* Blood vessels to the skin being constricted reducing any potential blood loss. Sweat glands also open, providing an external cooling liquid to our over-worked system. (this makes the skin look pale and clammy).

* Endorphins, which are the body's natural pain killers, are released (when you are fighting, you do not want be bothered with pain–-that can be put off until later.)

* The natural judgment system is also turned down and more primitive responses take over–this is a time for action rather than deep thought.

So the body prepares to fight off a threat or run away from the threat. But what happens if this protective system is thwarted - if you cannot fight back or run away because you are too small or are over powered by a stronger individual? Or you are trapped in a situation where escape is not possible? With your senses heightened you will remember each moment of the experience. You will associate this heightened state with fear or anger. And the feelings of powerlessness may leave you feeling angry and helpless. If the trauma involves sexual assault you may also associate this state with sexual activity. And if the abuse is repeated - as does happen all too often - the associations of trauma with this heightened state dig deeper pathways into memory - both memory in the mind and memory in the body.

Sometimes the trauma is so overwhelming that you disassociate the experience... wall it off, encapsulate the whole experience, separate it from the rest of your psyche. Many young children do this as a protective measure during severe abuse. They "forget" what happened because the experience has been psychologically removed from their awareness. And when they get older sometimes those walled off experiences stop being walled off - or the wall gets breached somehow - and the memories come back to awareness in the form of flashbacks or nightmares. Even disassociated experiences - unremembered experiences - like this can cause odd problems in later life.

When I was about 3 I underwent an experimental treatment for chronic ear infections - radiation treatment. My mother just said I was going to get treatment to make my ears better. When we went to the hospital for the treatment 2 men took me into a room with (from a 3 year olds perspective) big and strange machines. As I remember it they did not say much to me... no explanations, no soothing - just put me on the cold hard x-ray table - and strapped me down. Put straps around my body, straps around my head and my jaw was also strapped closed. Then they aimed the x-ray machine... walked away from me to go behind a wall ... and the machine started making loud zapping noises. I was terrified! But could not scream, cry, fight, or run away. My mother said I had bad dreams for a while after that but then seemed to forget about it. But as I got older some odd incidences happened. Like having a panic attack when I had to have had x-rays after my ex broke my jaw. Like throwing a mini hissy fit when my 18mo old son had to have head x-rays when he wacked his head on a metal table - the x-ray folks wanted to have me stay in the waiting room and I got so panicky and (from their point of view, I guess) hysterical that they had to let me stay with him. But afterwards I really questioned myself because the reaction was way over the top. Then when my 2nd child was about 6mo I got a letter from the hospital where the treatment was done saying some patients who'd had this treatment were developing thyroid cancer and I should have my thyroid checked.... and I did not remember having had the treatment at all - had to call my folks and find out about it. Several years later I went to work for my current company and my first office (a converted broom closet - really!) was right next to the x-ray department - and every time I was working and a child was in x-ray crying - I'd have a full blown panic attack! And I had another panic attack when I had to have a CT Scan because I was having inner ear problems. I thought all this through for a while and decided that these reactions probably had something to do with the x-ray treatment I had gotten as a child... but that insight did NOT make these reactions stop! I was seeing a therapist at the time about some other issues and one day while in session I relived that whole experience of getting the x-ray treatment. It was very interesting ... there was a part of me that was observing what happened in the therapist's office (seemed like I was hovering just over my own left shoulder) ... and another part of me was sitting on the couch reliving the experience. And the part on the couch really was only 3 years old. As I tried to explain... in the limited vocabulary of a 3yo ... and talking through clenched teeth like my jaws were strapped shut....what had happened, tears were running down my face, my fists were clenched but my arms could not move from my sides, and my heels were dug into the carpet and were pushing back so hard in an effort to escape the remembered straps that I almost tipped the couch over backwards. And I was so angry at those men ... and at my mother ... that I threw a 3yo's tantrum right there on the office floor. And of course felt very embarrassed and chagrinned afterwards - "That is what is called an abreaction" said my therapist. "And it is a good thing. Because now all of that rage and fear is dissipated and it will not come back". And that was true! When I went back to work I no longer had panic attacks when a child was crying in x-ray.... still wanted to comfort that child ... but as the mature motherly type person I am... not mixed up with the panicky angry child I was. And I was finally able to cry out loud... for years I had been unable to make any noise at all when I cried. And I was able to be more verbally assertive... my jaws were finally unstrapped!

It appears to me that unless fear and anger from traumatic events are allowed to find an outlet ... and expression of their intensity... these emotions will continue to linger in the body and the psyche. And Oh yes our bodies often remember things that our minds do not. Have you ever gotten a massage and found yourself crying in the middle of it? Probably an old memory is being released. Or smelled a particular aroma and had an odd reaction to it? Smell is a very primitive sense and reactions to scents can be very dramatic - both in good ways and in not so good ways.

Even if you've never been through severe trauma, anger can build up over time. It's sort of like filling a water balloon. Many of us have been taught not to express anger in any way...even expressing annoyance or feelings of emotional hurt were frown upon. So we stuffed those feelings down... poured them into the water balloon... until one day the last drop went in and POW - the balloon explodes! And afterward we (and often those around us) are left going "Huh? What was that all about? Whatever was going on didn't warrant that big a reaction!" It's like all those big and small annoyances, peeves, irritations, vexations got distilled down to toxic sludge. And the bursting of that sludge filled balloon can be detrimental to relationships and your perception of yourself as a rational human being!

So how can you release this type of anger? Well different techniques will work for different people. The basic formula (IMO) is intellectual awareness of the causes of your anger + the connection of the emotions to the experiences that created them + physical expression and release of the emotions. IMO this work requires physical action of some type. Doing this type of work in your head or by journaling only goes so far and does not (again IMO) release the very real physical residue of these intense emotions. It seems that you have to really burn off the old nervous system chemicals that fuel the Fight/Flight response before you can truly let go of the anger/fear. A word of caution though... if you are not use to intense emotional expression this may be scary the first time you do it! My experience of this type of release is that my body shakes - sometimes violently depending on the intensity of the emotion - I cry, scream, rage - I feel dizzy, sick to my stomach, and on occasion I hyperventilate. And afterwards I tend to go to sleep for a good long time.

The following exercises all have the same basic rules:
1-You may not hurt yourself or anyone else
2-You may not damage anything that is of value to you or anyone else
3-Do the exercises in a place where you feel safe and where you can be alone ... or have one trusted person with you.

As mentioned above you can work off some of this kind of residual anger through physical exercise - just connect an experience with the emotion and "act it out' while you exercise like my Jazzercise experience above. Punching on a punching bag or pillow can help. Throwing a ball at a target; throwing stones into a lake, river or pond. Bicycling - jogging - Physically demanding chores like chopping wood, hoeing a garden, pulling weeds, etc. can also be useful for working off anger from everyday annoyances.

For larger issues - or when you are aware of a pattern of behaviors on the part of someone else that erodes you self-esteem - or for anger involving a particular person, place, or situation that has gone on for quite a while - And particularly for situations or individuals where it is not safe to express your emotions directly.

Materials needed:
one cardboard box (pick a size that seems to you to "fit" what you are angry about, use a separate box for each distinct area of anger); dark colored marker, crayon, or paint; scissors; a large empty space where you feel safe (basement, garage, barn, backyard)

1-Label the box with the person or situation you feel angry at

2-Start writing on the box all that you feel about this particular situation or person - get intense about it, scribble, write large, put as much emotion as you can into the writing, write all the things you KNOW you would never ever say in public. I guarantee no one will ever be able to read what you write on this box. Keep writing inside and outside of the box until you run out of words

3-Now start kicking the box - kick it all around the space you are in - yell at it -stomp on it - bash that box to smithereens remember every incident where the person or situation caused you to stuff down anger or fear. You know and I know that you would never do this kind of physical punishment to a person... this is just an inanimate box that is extending its usefulness by being a focus for the release of this intense emotion.

4-When you have expended all of the energy you can about this particular source of anger or fear on this box.... take up the scissors and cut it into pieces - just chop it all up - shred it.

5-And finally take the pieces of the box and burn them in a safe fire. As they burn, ask Spirit to take into safe keeping any residual anger left. Pray for strength and for calmness. Thank Spirit for giving you the opportunity to say good bye to this toxic sludge of anger ...

6-Then go take a warm soaky bath, have a good meal and a good sleep. Over the next few days feel any differences in your body. Watch and see if you react differently to situations that might have caused you anger in the past. Notice whether or not others react differently to you.... and they will

Thank you so much for sharing! I love your solution at the end. The biggest problems arise from anger when it is denied or unexpressed. Then it just feeds on itself and can cause untold damage. The 'box therapy' sounds like a superb way to express anger and thereby release it with minimal damage to others. (Though the person who's name is on the box will likely feel something energetically while it's going on , so it would be good to set the intention to heal oneself and not to hurt the other).

Libraries are on this row
INDEX Page 1
(Divination & Dreams, Guides & Spirit Helpers)
INDEX Page 2
INDEX Page 3
(Main Section, Medicine Wheel, Native Languages & Nations, Symbology)
INDEX Page 4
(Myth & Lore)
INDEX Page 5
(Sacred Feminine & Masculine, Stones & Minerals)
INDEX Page 6
(Spiritual Development)
INDEX Page 7
(Totem Animals)
INDEX Page 8
(Tools & Crafts. Copyrights)

Cinnamon Moon
© Copyright: Cinnamon Moon & River WildFire Moon (Founders.) 2000-date
All rights reserved.

Site constructed by Dragonfly Dezignz 1998-date

River Moon