In my journey of recovery from CPTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), I’ve been working through some deep issues of rage and anger.
For most of my life, I rented space at a triplex I called Unforgiveness, Rage, and Anger. This is where I lived.
And then it happened!
I cannot pinpoint exactly when that soul-shattering burden was lifted, but one day I woke up and forgiveness stared me in my face.
I’d completely and totally forgiven people who I never thought I could.
Truly a miracle.
That was over 10 years ago.
That feeling didn’t budge one bit, and seemed to grow bigger with each passing day. And here is what I’ve learned so far about letting go of anger after you’ve experienced forgiveness for someone.
#1. It Ain’t Easy
Although I’ve experienced some ‘only God’ forgiveness for the multiple perpetrators in my early life. For the most part, ‘letting go’ is a process. Not easy, but possible.
#2: Own it
I wanted to blame everyone else for my heartache and misery. Even though I felt completely justified, I knew that if I kept my eyes on everyone else, I’d stay frozen and powerless. I knew that hanging all of my hopes on another person would leave me broken and vulnerable. Today, I know that I’m responsible for bringing healing to my own life, and that no one else is responsible for my life.
The recognition that I can choose a different way to react, even when life doesn’t turn out the way I want it – is a liberating choice.
The road to letting go of anger and hurt has been enormously daunting because of the deep pain and rage I’d been carrying around for most of my life. What I learned is that if I held on to hope and was willing to do the work, the anger would subside.
Holding onto anger toward another person is like holding a sharp object in the palm of your hand. The harder you squeeze, the more you suffer. If we cast blame, it’s like blaming the sharp object for our pain – when we’re doing the squeezing! When we let go of anger and resentment, it’s like we release our grip on the sharp object.
Hanging on to anger doesn’t hurt the other person; it hurts us most of all. Working toward releasing the sharp pain and toxicity of unresolved anger can be very healing.
Step Three: Figure it Out
Have you ever opened up to a trusted person or group about a tough situation in your life and suddenly everyone is an expert? They slam you with a dozen ways to overcome ‘the struggle’? I know I feel almost immediate resistance when I’ve taken the risk and opened up and am essentially told to “smile and look on the bright side,” “think positive,” or “try to forgive.”
So how do we try to figure it out? Look for people and faith communities that are known for ministering to the wounded and offer people unfettered opportunities to grieve in their own way. Seek opportunities to talk about how you’ve been hurt and what you feel you’ve lost.
To be continued…