I’m really spilling my guts here, so if you’re not in the right frame of mind for that you might want to skip this one.
Here’s a fact a lot of people might not know about me: I am absolutely petrified of anger, and people who are angry.
I’m talking shaking, sick, already-thinking-how-to-defend-myself-if-they-lash-out-physically (even if I rationally know they won’t) terrified.
(TRIGGER WARNING) My long term ex-partner once threw me out of our house because they got angry with me. They told me to get out, leave and go back to my parents’ house (we were living 2-3 hours away at the time) without any of my stuff or even any money, and locked the door behind me. I don’t know how long I was wandering aimlessly around our village before they came to find me. (The reason? I’d refused sex.)
So when someone gets angry, even if the anger isn’t actually directed at me, I have a physical gut reaction that makes me want to just cower in a corner and become invisible until it stops. If someone is in my presence and angry about something, I feel strongly compelled to keep my distance until it has blown over – that, or try to fix it, then beat myself up when I can’t. Very little is more frightening to me than being in a space with two people who are fighting. My fight-or-flight kicks in and I have to either step into the middle of it and try to stop it, or run the hell away from that space. When it is aimed at me, I assume all the worst possible things. All my self-loathing rushes to the surface and all my demons scream at me what a terrible, horrible person I am to have made somebody angry with me. I immediately assume they’re about to leave me, throw me out (literally or figuratively) or similar.
The other thing I do in my day-to-day life, which is different but related, is apologise compulsively. For everything. Even things that are realistically not my fault, I manage to imagine ways in which I could have prevented them or fixed them and then apologise for not doing so. Nomad and I gently tease each other, yet I always feel the need to apologise for doing so in case I cause any actual offense (which has never happened in the course of affectionate teasing, as far as I can tell.) I’ll speak up for myself and my opinions, and then apologise. I’ll apologise for having needs, wants, desires and limits. I spend my life feeling that I must apologise for… well just for being.
Seeing how this might be a bit of an issue in relationships yet?
When somebody is angry, whether at me or otherwise, I will do virtually anything in the world just to make it stop. Because I have it drilled into me (as I think a lot of women do) that my place is to keep quiet, please everyone else, and apologise for being who I am. Because my ex would break up with me until I backed down every time we argued, telling me they didn’t love me until I did what they wanted, I believe deep down in my psyche that if somebody is angry with me, they can’t possibly love me. And my relationships are the most important things in the world to me.
I have no answers on this one. Just endless questions.