We have all heard the term ” displaced anger” before at some point. The question is, what is it, really? Some people might answer that it’s like stubbing your toe on the way into your house after work, and when your kid runs up and tries to hug you, you raise your voice and tell them get away for a minute because you are in too much pain to be rational. I suppose on the surface that could pass for an example.
What I am talking about is a deep-rooted bitter angry feeling that is brought on by certain triggers, and the people around you must suffer the consequences. When I was about 10-14 years old, I was a very angry kid. I was not the type to take other kid’s lunch money or start fights everyday. I did however feel that under the right circumstances, I was capable of really doing some damage to others. I already was with my words and cut downs and all that. At the time I had no idea that my sense of anger had to do with my life, my family, my absentee father and all the terrible abuse and violence I witnessed along with suicide and other things all before 12.
Years ago in college we were studying the topic and it all started to make sense to me. I had hurt so many people in my younger years because I myself was very wounded. Even in my late teens or early twenties I can remember going bowling or golfing with family or friends. If I hit just one or two bad shots in a row, that would prevent me from breaking my own record, I would throw a tantrum the size of a 19-year-old. I would not speak to anyone for hours while they enjoyed the game, i would just mope. It really bothered me but I had no clue how to get rid of it. Truly it was not any college degrees that got me out of it. What finally made me realize just how idiotic I looked was when I became a foster parent to 6 teenagers for 5 years.
You want to talk about displaced anger?? Wow these kids rocked my world the first year as I was totally unprepared for what their awful lives had turned them into. It was when I had to point out all the time to them that their behavior to another was uncalled for and unfair, and ruthless sometimes even bringing others to tears for something they had no involvement in. Ouch. It really started hitting home that I was them and they were me. However this time I could track the reasons. I could read their files and see who beat them or raped them in their life. It answered many questions for me about me.
I can honestly say that today it is very rare for me to take my anger out on anyone that had nothing to do with my problem in the first place. It took a mirror image of myself over and over each day to catch on to what I had been doing.
I was truly hurt and angry now, be sure of that. However when I sat down over time with a trusted friend of mine several times and went over my life and issues, I was able to take the feedback I needed. I needed to both subconsciously and consciously wipe away the anger directed to people who had nothing to do with it. Next I needed to choose how to deal with the person who really did hurt me or in my case people who had hurt me at a young age.
Should I get in their face and let them have it? Blame them for my issues and leave mad?
After discussing the options with my buddy ( also a therapist ) we decided that in the case of my dad it would do me more harm than good to talk with him, It had been decades since we spoke. However I was not off the hook. We decided a straight forward letter to him would be in order mentioning the hurtful things that caused me so much pain and shame.
However to my dismay, my buddy said that in order for me to be released from the bondage of bitterness ( unforgiveness breeds bitterness) I would have to tell him in the letter that I was hereby forgiving him for any time he accused me, abused me, beat me, or hurt me.
What??? Forgive him? Surely you jest I thought.
Nope. It was real.
I did the letter and then over time went on and thought about anyone who had ever hurt me and decided to forgive them as well. I did not have to go in person I could make it a prayer even, but my heart must be genuine as we cannot trick God. He knows whether we really are forgiving or not. By the way I never said we must forget. Just forgive.
These days I walk around without this 300lb bag of bitterness wrapped around my heart with a wick on it ready to explode at any time. I was set free of the hurt as I set others free in my own heart and to God.
I could write pages on this, but I really think the main message has already been addressed. Its action time. Or its time to stay bitter and enjoy that more.
Maybe this is for just one person who is struggling today with an issue like this. If that is the case it well worth posting. I can tell you that God’s ability to heal memories is much greater than man’s ability to inflict pain.
Why not set yourself free today? I bet you never go back.
Visualize Whirled Peas.