It’s Not Anger, It’s Hurt

I have a fantastic therapist. He saved my life…figuratively and, very possibly, literally. I’ve been talking to him for 7 or 8 years which probably sounds like bad therapy to some people (I haven’t figured out my issues in all these years?) but the nature of our therapy has changed over time. Now it’s more like checking in and talking about some lingering and ongoing issues I have. It’s not the intense, searing, sob-inducing therapy  it was when we started.

My childhood was rocky. Not the worst by far, but much different than most of my friends. I found out that I wasn’t to blame for all the problems we had despite my parent’s best efforts to convince me otherwise, that the way my family communicated was majorly f’ed up and that judging people and having a negative outlook aren’t the healthiest ways to live your life. I’ve also discovered a lot about the ugliest, worst parts of my life but those aren’t things I feel like discussing in public, yet. Maybe another time.

I was raised to be a pessimist. I was raised to believe that the way that our family did things was the best and only way and that everyone else was doing it wrong (cue the judgement that I still struggle with). I was raised to believe that people will hurt you the first chance they get so you’d better have a thick skin and turn on them before they can turn on you.

Many years of therapy have taught me that my parents were human. That they were young and had their own issues from their own families and that they did the best they could. It took me a long time to feel empathy for them, but I do. One of the ways this happened was by hearing my therapist tell me that underneath anger is hurt.

Hear me again: underneath the anger, there is hurt.

I didn’t understand him when he first told me that. I wasn’t hurt by my parents, I WAS PISSED! I WAS ANGRY! THEY SUCK! But my therapist gently helped me to drill down and look at it more closely. I realized that the anger I felt as a young child when my mother told me that the only reason she yelled at me, spanked me, or called me names was because I had provoked her was actually hurt that she thought so little of me. The anger I had for her when, during a fight with her where I started screaming, she told my younger brother to call the mental hospital because I was crazy? Deep hurt that she didn’t hear me – that she didn’t see my screaming as an outward expression of the utter desperation and frustration I felt at being dismissed over and over and over again.

Do you see that the anger people are expressing over the election is really hurt? Hurt over feeling like their voices are never heard? Hurt by the accusations slung their way (both sides)? Hurt that friends and family can think so little of them based on who they voted for (both sides)?

It’s not just anger, folks. And it’s not liberal, hippy-dippy b*ullshit. It’s ok if you think it is, but I’m hoping you’ll consider the idea and see that there is truth in it.

Please be gentle with each other. It’s no secret that I voted for Hillary and am completely dismayed by a DT presidency. But I’m not angry. I am motivated to get involved so that issues that are important to me are not decided by people who don’t care about them. I am motivated to talk to people on the other side of the political fence to find out what issues were important enough to them to vote for DT. And I’m motivated to learn how to listen – not hear, but LISTEN – to the voices of the people around me.

Just consider it.

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