Archive for January 25, 2013

How Do We Manage Our Rage?

As survivors we’re often not aware of our rage. We’ve had a lifetime of learning how to push it down so hard we don’t even feel it. Considering what we’ve been through, it’s no wonder we’re furious. But how many of us put the rage where it belongs – on the perpetrator of the crimes against us when we were helpless children?

Recently I received a message from a survivor who was furious with her child self. “Why couldn’t she stop it?” she wondered. “How could she let that happen? I hate her!”

She wasn’t particularly angry with the perpetrator, just with the child who hadn’t stopped the abuse and who now lives inside her. In her head she knew she needed to embrace that child, but with that much hate, she found it impossible to love the child as a part of herself.

For me, I couldn’t be angry with my father who abused me because every time I thought of him, I dissociated. When you’re in a fog you can’t feel much of anything, let alone rage. I displaced this rage onto my mother. Today I feel a lot of love for her. After all, who knew about child sexual abuse back when she was in charge of my safety?

How many survivors displace their rage onto their partners?

It’s all too easy for the partner to become confused with the abuser once the couple establish a home and settle down together. In any marriage “transference” plays an important role. We tend to regard our partner as we did one of our parents. Especially if we’ve been abused, we can easily turn our significant other into a tyrannical or angry spouse.

How do we deal with our anger? First we need to be aware that we ARE angry. Then take a good, hard look at why we are angry. Is it really about the present situation? Or is it about the past?

Finding the answer often means seeking professional help, someone we can trust with our pain and confusion about present pain – someone who understands how traumatized individuals carry their woundedness into present day life.

Staying Safe & Avoiding Harm

Here in Canada we’re experiencing the shortest days of the year. Driving my car through the dark city streets I’m  alarmed by pedestrians who appear out of nowhere, dressed in black from head to toe, plugged into their headsets, oblivious to the sound of my oncoming vehicle. Often their hoods block any peripheral vision. They’ve rendered themselves deaf and blind to danger.

We depend on our sight and our hearing to warn us of oncoming dangers. Why, then, are these people depriving themselves of both sound and sight? By blocking out the stimuli of their environment they’re making themselves vulnerable to both accidental and predatory dangers.

Recently in Toronto, within the space of one hour, eight pedestrians were hit by cars.

Too many women have been attacked by predatory assailants, bent on terrorizing women through rape. How is this possible? Granted, sometimes there’s no way of preventing such trauma. But we need to do all we can to prevent being hurt this way. We women need to stay alert and aware of our surroundings. We can’t allow ourselves to be vulnerable to these sickoes.

Let’s look at prevention.

  • stay aware of your surroundings.
  • Be mindful. Be here and now.
  • Don’t make yourself deaf to your environment.
  • Don’t render yourself blind to danger.
  • Know what’s around you.
  • Concentrate on your surroundings.
  • Dress so that you can be seen by traffic
  • Know that protecting yourself means staying calm but realistic about possible dangers.
  • Make eye contact with the driver of the car you are about to cross in front of.

Let’s all stay safe from preventable harm.

Learn to Interpret Your Own Dreams Workshop

LEARN TO INTERPRET YOUR OWN DREAMS Workshop
I will be leading a small group in dream study on Monday afternoons from 2 to 4 in the library of the First Unitarian Congregation, Toronto
Dates: January 28, February 4, February 11, February 25. (No class February 18, Family Day)
Suggested cost:  $20 or what you can afford.
You can email me for more information or to register at: mary@marykarmstrong.com