Anger (again)

One woman came for help because she hated how angrily she had treated her husband. When she felt abandoned, she attacked. When she felt attacked, she abandoned. And she was even harder on herself than she was on her family. Over time we uncovered the pain underlying her anger. We found the fear and hurt she had suffered throughout childhood from her mother’s abandonment and volcanic wrath. Beneath that we saw her real need and healthy desire for love. Part of her was an adult. Part of her was a hurt, abandoned and angry child.

The more this woman understood and responded to her own child pain, the less she depended on her husband and son to do so, and the less often she “lost it”, attacking with searing rage or coldly abandoning. Now she could be firmer and gentler. Only by recognizing and dealing with the hurt and angry subjective child inside of ourselves can we hope to deal lovingly with our hurt and angry family members.

The first step is to recognize when you are in the child position and to be with that child part and listen to what she feels. The second is to recognize and relinquish the idea that you need someone else to be your parent. The third is to turn with all your feelings and needs to the Parent of parents–that is, to God–the source of everything we need.

You may have to forcibly remove yourself from the situation before you can become prayerful. What is happening here? What am I to learn? are some good questions.

paraphrase Whole Child/Whole Parent, Polly Berrien Berends, pg 230-232

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