Anger Can Hide Pain

I have trouble coping with anger. Generally the most angry I have been has been righteous indignation over mistreatment of someone, some country, or some animal.

Growing up in my family we rarely were angry at each other. I remember only two maybe three big arguments my parents had when I was young. While growing up we siblings had disagreements and sibling rivalry of course. But we all got along pretty well.

While married to my husband he became emotionally abusive and on a few occasions, physically abusive. I felt the cause of his anger was my fault so I didn’t get angry back at him for years. I bore the blame of so many failings, mistakes, misjudgments, and “disobedience” that I blamed myself for being a bad wife, mother, and a failure as a human being.

Until one day I finally got mad and defended myself verbally against someone else’s rudeness. Later I regretted saying something I shouldn’t have said, so I decided to keep my anger under lock and key so I wouldn’t hurt someone unnecessarily or say something that wasn’t true. I was also afraid of blasting someone about something and then finding out later I hadn’t had all of the facts before I spoke. Then I would have felt terrible for hurting someone for the wrong reasons.

The other day I learned something about my anger. While eating supper with an old friend, I explained to her why I had ended a friendship with a friend we had had in common. The ex-friend asked me to do something immoral for a friend. Firmly without hesitation I refused. When she later invited me to lunch she trapped me into meeting those people to try to get me to reconsider. I was furious!

I could not trust a friend I had known for at least 7 years. We had traveled together, eaten lunches together, shopped together, and she even helped me move out of my house and put things in storage. She had been a true friend.

So when she apologized I forgave her. Later another situation occurred in which she was not telling me the whole truth. I found this out by asking questions that more responsibility would have been placed on me than she had told me. For that I changed my mind. I was angry with her and soon after ended the relationship.

While I was explaining all of this to my present friend I kept getting angrier and speaking about my ex-friend in an increasingly louder voice as I tried to explain the events of the friendship’s demise.

Later at home I was puzzled by so much anger over something that had happened several years ago. I did forgive her, I just couldn’t trust her anymore. Why was I still angry at her? The answer came the next evening.

Norie, my black cat, rarely wants to sit in my lap. When she does, I try to be careful and considerate to not overstimulate her by observing her signals that she is getting uncomfortable.

So when I saw her switching tail, her flattened ears and staring eyes watching my hand, I stopped touching her. I thought I was being very careful by stopping my petting her for a while then when she relaxed, petting her some more.

What I didn’t know then, that I finally understand now, was that my petting at intervals had a cumulative effect. Suddenly she lunged at my hand and nipped me enough to say, “STOP IT!”

In my wounded mind and ignorance I shoved her off of my lap and started yelling at her about how much I had done for her to give her a good life, and how I tried to respect her wishes and comfort zones and how much I loved her. In my anger I even called her a “dumb cat!” (I adore my cat and have never spoken ill of her like that.}

Then I started crying. I felt betrayed, hurt, and unloved. I didn’t deserve to be treated like that. I must say she barely broke the skin and could have bitten much harder. But at that time it was like a slap in the face to me. As I ranted at her I added my ex-friend’s name. I cried from the hurt and betrayal of them both.

Then I sobbed hysterically over the pain and “betrayal” of my husband. Even though he had physical problems and issues, he hurt me emotionally. That hurt has taken almost 10 years to start freeing myself from! I did NOT deserve that pain.

Finally the sobbing subsided. I realized that I had stored up a lot of pain that I had not dealt with when it was caused. The pain had been neatly tucked away; hidden; and I thought forgiven. But by tucking away the pain I had suffered in order to forgive and to forget, I had failed to realize the damage that had been done to me. Even though I had tried very carefully to do away with it all, the anger had been sitting on a slow boil for years to prevent a big, messy, boiling. I didn’t want to feel anger or pain because I might say something I shouldn’t have said or that I might regret later.

With my husband I had had to store a lot of anger and pain out of fear of making him more angry. The truth was I had been hurt emotionally so many times and sealed it away under a simmering anger that all boiled over when Norie nipped my hand.

From this I learned: Recognize and figure out what you are feeling; feel the pain and recognize it separately from anger; try to diffuse some of the negative energy of the anger; realize the cause, and resolve whatever pain you feel with prayer, meditation, running, walking, exercising, writing a letter to them and deciding if you want to send it to them or not. These are a few ways to be healed. Anger and rage that continues over the years will cause physical problems and can change your body, brain, even cellular activity for the worst.

Frequent or long term anger or rage can kill you. I know this. This is what precipitated a lot of my husband’s mental and physical health problems and I believe finally his death.

11 thoughts on “Anger Can Hide Pain

    1. Thank you, halfcupful. I try to share things like this in the hopes that it may help someone else. I retired from nursing 10 years ago, so I wanted to keep on helping where I could. Writing is the best way for me, especially in times like there. Stay well. And thank you for commenting.


  1. It’s is such an important topic which we so easily veer away from, the way you share your story and experiences definitely can inspire others to reflect on their lives too. Hugs šŸ’•šŸ’–šŸ’•šŸ’


  2. Thank you, Morag. Anger was something we shut off in my family. My husband had a lot of anger which made me not want any part of it. But we all have anger. We just have to learn how to heal it. Thank you for commenting.


  3. like you, it has always beens difficult for me to express anger over the years, due to many life experiences. over a long time and learning about myself, I too have come to understand and forgive, and know it is more for me than them. thank you for posting this, Iā€™m sure it will help many

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Spot on Elaine! At the moment I’m dealing with grief (recent and past). Anger wasn’t expressed in my family either (Irish Stoics). I bottled up a lot over the years and finally it started to express itself as hurt and grief. Stoicism served me well at times yet we need to learn to express some of our pain to ourselves and with someone we trust.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mary Lou, I am so glad that you liked this post. I am part Irish too. Thank you for commenting. I feel so glad that I shared my experience here. It helps unite people when they realize that others have experienced the same feelings and lessons.

      Liked by 1 person

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