“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness”
~~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
What do you think when you see this picture?
How does it relate to you?
I like this picture. I don’t agree with the wording, in its entirety, but I can see value in the message.
First, let’s talk about the picture itself.
- How does this picture represent the inner worlds, and internal systems of someone with Dissociative Identity Disorder?
- Do you see the different people?
- The different ages?
- The different body positions?
- The connections and separations between the various people?
This picture reminds me of the way dissociative systems are often split and separated, especially where anger is concerned.
I see the upper outer layers — the ones that have the front jobs of presenting to society. They seem to be the “real ones” and the parts that interact more frequently with the outside world. However, this picture shows the rest of the story. It shows the lower, more hidden layers that are often less known, but typically still very powerful in terms of system functioning and decision-making.
Or, it could represent a completely different kind of dissociative splitting process. It could be those who dissociated away and floated above the trouble and pain, with a layer of everyday existence horizoned in the middle, with a separate group of insiders stuck down underneath, often unable to surface in the current time frame.
The presence of an opposite, mirror-like reflection of an internal system people is common in DID / MPD. For every insider of one extreme, there is often someone else inside that holds a position that is the polar opposite. This is an important and necessary strategy for managing both ends of extreme situations.
What do you see in this picture?
Can you relate in any way?
And what do you believe about anger?
Anger is such a difficult emotion. It is all too often connected with the horrors of abuse, pain, trauma, fear, and conflict. It’s difficult to be angry, and well-behaved at the same time. Anger often brings out the worst in people.
And yet anger is an important emotion.
Anger knows when you, or others, have been wronged. It knows when something isn’t right. It knows when something should be different.
I don’t know that anger and happiness are opposites as suggested in this picture. I don’t think that the removal of anger means that emotional spot will be replaced by happiness.
Sometimes being angry is important. The appropriate expression of anger can be very healthy. For dissociative systems, it is important to listen to those inside that carry the anger. These insiders have a great deal of information about your history. It might not be easy to hear what they have to say, but their years of experience really should not be denied or forgotten. What they survived counts as much as any other trauma.
Sometimes the internal angry ones copy the external “real life” abusers, making the other insiders repeatedly re-experience trauma and excessive inappropriate discipline, enforcing old rules without understanding that many of these old family rules are not healthy and no longer as necessary or important as they once were. Angry insiders often contain and re-live their memories by inflicting these same dynamics actions over and over and over. Instead of telling their memories, they show them.
When these angry insiders finally feel safe enough to talk honestly about their painful experiences, their anger can become less self-destructive. This change doesn’t come easily, but building relationships and trust with these angry parts is crucial to your overall healing. This is one of the most difficult and challenging components of the healing process. It’s messy. It’s painful. The path is not pretty or lined with flowers. It’s full of bruises and injuries and obscenities. It’s a frustrating process filled with inappropriate, ugly exchanges and intense emotion. And yet, if you don’t reach out to your angry ones, who will?
Since the angry ones are a very real part of your system, if they don’t get included in the healing process, what happens for them? Why should they be left out, and left behind? They need respect and acceptance. Their strengths need to be understood and appreciated.
Their anger may not be replaced by happiness, but they may develop a deeper sense of peace, and contentment, and personal strength. This strength and internal confidence will radiate through all of your system. There is a certain beauty found in their strength.
- What are your angry insiders angry about?
- What are their actions showing you about their history?
- Are you willing to help everyone inside, even the angry ones?
- If not, what are you afraid of?
- Will it cost you more to ignore them than to work with them?
It’s definitely not easy. Important, but not easy.
I wish you all the best in your healing journey.
Copyright © 2008-2021 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation
We dont be allowd to get angry. We cant feel it. Thats why we got shadownman. It be his job not ours.
Thank you for this post. Ongoing anger (rage, at times) is an issue that’s been plaguing our system for quite a while now.
Before we answer your questions, we’d like to clarify what the word “you,” as used in the questions that follow, means to our system. We are a non-host system and do not believe in having one person as the ultimate authority inside. We believe in governance by committee as one of our core values, and with a system of 47, there are too many of us for one person to run everything.
The second thing that we’d like to address is the concept of “angry insiders.” We see this as an offshoot of the idea that system members can and should be categorized by “roles.” This may be helpful for a system that’s new to knowing that they’re multiple and are just starting to get to know each other. But later in the healing journey, it’s natural that we come to see our fellow headmates as far more complex that these roles. And that anger, like any other characteristic, may exist in a variety of forms in a variety of insiders.
So, while we have a number of insiders who are angry in a variety of ways for a variety of reasons, we don’t see them/us as “angry insiders” per se. But we can still address your questions in a way that we hope will help us.
What are your angry insiders angry about?
Several of us are angry at our abusers/traumatizers, all of whom are now deceased or otherwise long gone from our life. We’re angry that we can’t have an Orwellian “do-over” of our life in which nothing bad ever happened. Our body age is 57 at the time of this posting (2019), and our mother was an undiagnosed multiple who was abused by her own mother, and probably others. Her home of origin was toxic and left her devoid of many of the skills needed to be a healthy adult and an effective parent.
We were relieved when she passed in 2000, but we were devastated by the passing of our father in 2014; he was both mother and father to us. His passing was like shutting the final door on the possibility of achieving our “do-over.” And we’ve been in an ongoing state of….life crisis?….since then. Our T of 15 years has been a godsend, but we feel like we’re spinning our wheels.
What are their actions showing you about their history?
We’re very aware of our history. Our problem is that we feel unable to accept it.
Are you willing to help everyone inside, even the angry ones?
Our core principle of governing by committee, which we referred to earlier, is based on the principle that all of our adults have a responsibility to the system and to its governance. Our notion of age and responsibility may seem quite inflexible, but when you grow up with a mother who’s clueless and….less than competent….it’s easy to feel that she should have done better, and that we need to do better.
So….our adults advise our teens, who look after their respective younger siblings. That’s the goal. Does it work? We think that it can, if we could only work through our anger.
If not, what are you afraid of?
Letting go of our pain, which feels safer than the unknown. Growing up.
Will it cost you more to ignore them than to work with them?
Right now, we don’t know. The pain seems immense. We can’t deal with it all, but if we take it as slowly as we fear that we have to, we’ll be 90 years old and still in pain. :-/
Sorry if this post seems like one long downer. But we need to feel heard and validated.
So nice to hear your voice here again. Thank you for sharing your perspective on this article and the questions that Kathy asked. So much that I can relate to.
“Sorry if this post seems like one long downer. But we need to feel heard and validated.”
Please do not apologize for speaking your mind here MakersDozn. It is not a downer at all. It is enlightening and an inspiration to us all when someone speaks their truth so courageously and honestly. Thank you for sharing with us.
“… if we take it as slowly as we fear that we have to, we’ll be 90 years old and still in pain.”
Oh wow I hear that even if said tongue in cheek. My T keeps saying to me – “the slower you go the faster you will get there.” Well, it seems like I am on the slow train to nowhere sometimes. I hope to make it to some conclusion while I still have some life to live! But, then that may be the answer right there. We need to start living in unison with our healing and not wait for some magic day down the road when we will feel whole again. 😉
Be gentle with yourself!
The trauma treatment unit I was in had a good message about this “Recovery is a journey. Life is a journey. You never really ‘get there’ with either one.” I’ve just felt less pressure since hearing it. It’s let me slow down, I don’t have to force healing so I can get on with living, which you’re right about that being a better way to go about through the process
Thank-you very much for this article. I have a part of me that holds a lot of my dissociated anger and rage and I don’t know what to do really. When triggered usually by my husband ( when i feel anger in relation to him), I switch into that state and then I am not in present day, I am another , me telling my husband graphically not to do x ( which is about abuse) again. I shout , I rip up things, I swear. I am scared by this emotion and this part of me. I don’t know how to reach this part of me and what to do. I have no memories about what this part is talking about but she thinks my husband is her abuser.
What are your angry insiders angry about? SA
What are their actions showing you about their history? that they have been badly hurt. Boundaries impinged on. That they told someone something was hurting them and they did it again. That they were badly hurt
Are you willing to help everyone inside, even the angry ones? yes
If not, what are you afraid of?
Will it cost you more to ignore them than to work with them? yes
I had a disastrous therapy experience with a therapist who struggled with his own emotions and when this part began to speak out about things she wasn’t happy with he was punitive and controlling. It felt in the last 6 months like an emotional abusive relationship with yes one part angry and one part wanting to please him and get it right.
I am trying to help myself and connect to me as my insiders are too scared to enter therapy again and have like a PTSD reaction at the thought.
Thank-you for sharing all that you do. It is appreciated,
I can so relate to much of what you have said here. I have an angry one that I have little or no control over it would seem. She gets angry with my husband and these big argument happen that I have no memory of. It is frustrating because I know that he said or did something that was triggering but I can’t get to what it was to understand it. ARGH!
What I was really wanting to do here is encourage you to try therapy again. DID is such a struggle and without professional help … well, near impossible to deal with I feel. I hear and understand your fears but encourage you to think about professional help. Just my perspective.
I do have a part that I stay at war with!
We haven’t started getting angry till just recently and I know I’m all over the place bc of anniversaries etc. but I feel like jumping out of my skin. We are trying to work on this ‘radical acceptance ‘ crap but when we are mad we are REALLY bad at it. I feel like all my emotions (except happiness of course) all come crashing together and everyone is experiencing some sort of negativity and then I just like a ticking bomb waiting to explode. I hate it. I’m normally not like this. I just want to run away. I hate that there aren’t ppl like us that don’t understand why we can change so fast.. AND that makes us mad. Im mad bc other ppl scare us…I’m sad that I’m not like other girls who have friends… i don’t like to be in public bc I’m just sure there is a sign or something that’s says I’m nuts or mb it’s the ‘crazy eyes’ that I have bc I am so scared. I just ramble…. I hate that too bc ppl say they don’t follow me or understand me… we don’t know where we were going with this except…. we and me and some of us aren’t supposed to get angry…. and now all the sudden we are!!! And we don’t know why
I’ve never been able to be angry. I turn anger into tears. For some reason even when I have reason to be angry I can’t be. Longest anger has ever lasted is 10 minutes. That may seem like a long time, but when you consider that I spend the next half hour in tears it’s not that long. I just don’t cope with anger, it’s a foreign feeling.
In a way, I suppose it could be a good thing, not being able to stay angry, but friends seem to think I’m upset when I’m not because of this.
When others are angry sometimes they just need to cool off, vent their frustrations without being judged and sometimes that works. Just having someone to listen. But everyone is different.
I love that you posted this, it gave me another insight into anger.
Kathy, what is an appropriate response to anger? I struggle with internalized anger (my therapist says that it’s ‘anger turned inward’) and can’t feeling any real feelings except for anger, rage, frustration, annoyance, sadness and despair. I am researching anger to see what anger means and how it actually feels when it’s appropriate expressed…
Marianne Shalkowsky says
Anger is something I deal with on a daily basis.
Anger with my present situations with my son’s school or issues with patenting a teenager.
But the anger is really from being hurt in my past.
That is we’re I need to do therapy.
Day to day: they get mad and break things or swear bad words and it’s the family that bears the brunt of my anger.
It doesn’t matter if I don’t remember; I’m still paying for broken household items.
I’m being forced to look at better ways to deal with my anger.
Anger can be destructive for me.
In my past it was used as a tool of physical and mental torture.
Now it can be a force to reckon with but I know I can count to ten and take deep breaths and not sweat the small stuff.
All easier said that done.
But I’ve no choice but for the sake of my family and there sanity to stifle that anger until it can be released constructively.
All I can do is try. It’s hard cuz my self was only happy or very mad/ angry . Used to be only two emotions. Happiness or laughter was not in the equation.
A prayer to God to help me get through another day.
anger is still something were dealing with. i want to listen and hear but it is so overwhelming. for a reason it makes me/us think of an kid. i dont want to make false judgements but am learning still. it feels it has ties to injustice, abuse, hurt and pain. the picture is still unclear, if its carried by multiple of us. this made something click. it does feel overwhelming and if anger is reading. im thankfull for you. i am sorry what we went through its not your fault. i welcome you in our group.
Kathy Broady says
Beautifully said, multiplemindsdid.
It’s ok to take such difficult feelings and painful struggles a little bit at a time.
You as a system will figure out what was true for you all as you put the various pieces of experience together into a whole picture. Not easy work, but important.
And yes, welcoming everyone into the group is excellent. I like that you are showing kindness and compassion to those inside who may have experienced some of the worst things.
You’re doing good work. Please keep at it.
Anger is something I never felt until pretty recently. I think it`s good to feel anger. It gives me more motivation and clarity. I am, at times, recognising that what happened when I was a child was cruel and wrong, that I didn`t “deserve” it. No child does. I am not bitter, my anger is positive. No part of me has been violent, or is aggresive. Those are behaviours, not feelings.
I am fearful of `outside` anger. It is unpredictable. I don`t think I will ever manage that fear but I will try.
Wehn the bully and missy and mical get angre all us kids get hert bad:(
Sam Ruck says
It took me about 6 months to drain the anger out of my wife’s defender. She hated me for all the perceived things I had done to her. Most of it surrounded our unhappy sex lives, with me not knowing that anytime my “wife”, the host, dissociated, the little defender was left to finish sex with me. Sigh.
once I realized what had happened, I began to reach out to her. She spewed her venom on me for months. I never argued back, I NEVER justified ANY of my actions to her. I always apologized to her for EVERY thing she accused me of. My thinking was that she was sharing her perspective with me, and so I was apologizing to her from her perspective.
And it worked. As I apologized and reached out, her anger began to diminish, and a year later she wanted to become my girlfriend and is now the girl who often tries to please me the most.
Now she puts her energy into being the “debater” of the group. she loves to debate anything and she and Karen (the host) will work together to put together logical but tactful arguments.
It’s been a pretty amazing transformation and redirection of a little girl that once was so full of venom the other girls would keep her away from me.
Kathy Broady says
It takes an amazing amount of love and patience to not argue back — and to listen, and to apologize that many times, and to not justify any of your actions, no matter what the topic of the argument is about. I am thinking about that, and wow — it really is a big thing that you could put your own feelings aside for so long, and listen to your wife, and be willing to hear her side completely.
I don’t know you or your wife, but having many years of experience in this field, I would be willing to bet that while you may have done some things that upset your wife, she would have also been upset about the years of whoever else did whatever else to her, and you would have been catching the brunt of that as well. That whole transference thing is a real hard cross to bear…..
But it sounds like you did very well in your relationship together. She was able to voice her upset and hurt and anger, and you were able to hear her and listen to her and respect her feelings, including the bruises from her past. It would have helped her in the present to confront you, and to inadvertently, confront her past as well.
Well done, Same. I wish all spouses could be so understanding, but oh my gosh… it’s just not that easy.
PS: Please thank your wife for being so willing to let you share such personal details of your relationship out here on the web. Its my understanding that she is ok with your talking about such things, and that you are not breaking her trust by doing so. The two of you are really working hard at things — you are an inspiration to us all.
Sam Ruck says
Yeah she’s ok with it.
“I” don’t get angry……ever. At least not until 10 months ago. That day that “I” felt angry was the first in well over a decade…..and it was amazing! Up to that point, one alter carried the bulk of my anger. By allowing her to have that sole responsibility, “I” walked through life in denial and delusion that “I” was not responsible for “her” actions. That was a disaster. Finally being able to hold and deal with this feeling called anger has been a huge step in my recovery. Although admittedly terrifying, dealing with anger has truly helped me to heal even more.
“What are your angry insiders angry about?” Past abuse and injustices, but even more than that they are angry with all the ways I have betrayed my true self.
“What are their actions showing you about their history?” That I need to set and keep healthy boundaries and I need to put my own well being ahead of other people’s.
“Are you willing to help everyone inside, even the angry ones?” Yes!
“Will it cost you more to ignore them than to work with them?” YES!
Thanks for this post. Keep on going.
Onle daddy be alowd to get angre we get punisht if we get mad cuz that be bad we got to go to ar ruom til we can come out with a smile on ar fas 🙁 pepl gets hert if yu get mad
We dont get angry. It isnt worth it.
Took me a long time to read this. Still dunno if I have read it all. Kinda kept losing focus, then I’d go back, and seems I missed entire paragraphs somehow. Weird.
I think of anger as a powerful emotion cuz when I used to do labour jobs, when anything was too hard for me to eg. to lift, then I’d let the rage out and I could lift a crazy amount of weight.
Used to sometime get explosively angry when my kids were small, but went to therapy and stopped that.
Now I push the anger away cuz it might make me behave badly.
I do not like to listen inside much.
Guess I should.
Cuz I think I might be just hanging on by my teeth, cuz I am confused more these days.
So given my difficulty in reading this…..then perhaps it might be a worthy topic of discussion….
Thx for this.
Hi Kathy. Wonderful piece, I have reblogged your post on my site. The more people who get to read it the better. Hope u don’t mind. Love and respect 》Brazen
Reblogged this on brazenblood and commented:
I have reblogged this post. It is exceptionally well written but explains the ambivilant nature of DID. It also helped me to understand how anger can need healthy and not an emotion that should always be suppressed at all costs. It is helpful to read this post frequently when the pull to negate your others is strong. Thank you very much Kathy