Anger and Apologising

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.

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16 thoughts on “Anger and Apologising

  1. I am similar to you on this. As a child I was terrified of my father, the most frightening man you can imagine when he gets angry. Thinking about it seemed to put me in a constant state of nervousness when I was at school.
    Even if I know I am right I do not know how to stand up to an angry person.
    However there are times when I feel that by not losing my temper back at such people that sometimes this can put me in a stronger position. I do not think the solution for me is to match their anger, but I am amazed at how some people can use their anger to get what they want.

  2. Mrs Red says:

    I’m not afraid of anger, except in myself. I have always squashed anything angry down into my boots and ignored it which has led to a total inability to deal with any anger I might exhibit. I am afraid of confrontation however and will do almost anything to avoid it, although unlike you I can’t bring myself to step in and mediate, only run away.

    I think anger is one of those things that I struggle to deal with because I can’t express it myself, as though I need permission to feel angry about anything and need to be able to justify it to others in order to feel it myself. It took me a very long time to come to terms with the fact that anger isn’t a bad thing, it’s the expression of it that can be making or breaking in any relationship.

    I am lucky enough to be in relationships with people who don’t really “do” anger, frustration perhaps, but not anger and that (as opposed to my ex who was angry about everything) has given me the freedom to explore the things that make me actually, genuinely angry, even if I rarely express it in any forum other than with my loves.

    Anger has the power to free you as well as the power to bind you, it’s working out how to subdue it and bend it to your will, rather than let it rule you that is the real challenge, whether as the participant or as the subject.

  3. Michelle says:

    This is a shame & I hope you both get help for this.

    I can get angry (actually I use the word frustrated as when I get really angry you would know it) often when I come across certain types of behavior in people, but this does NOT mean I am a mean person or do what your ex did to you.

    Everyone gets angry whether they want to admit it or not. Anger is a valid emotion & often misunderstood. I’m different in that I don’t lie or put on a mask. If I’m upset you will know it, if I’m happy you will know it. I’m true to myself. Putting on the mask to me isn’t being authentic & I’m am authentic.

    As for apologizing all the time, that’s a clear sign of deep insecurity. I can tell you know this is a problem. I just hope you want to change for your own sake.

    I recommend this alternative therapy course if you resonate with it – http://solverelationshipproblems.com/alternative-therapy/

    It saved my life way back when.

    Be happy : )

  4. acelightning says:

    I’m no longer utterly terrified of anger in any form, but I can’t quite shake off the irrational conviction that, when someone is angry in my presence, no matter what the cause, they must (also) be angry *at me*.

    When in the presence of someone who is losing their temper, the louder and more obnoxiously they behave, the quieter and more rational I become. It drives ‘em nuts, and shortly they notice that they’re making a huge spectacle of themselves, like a two-year-old
    who’s missed nap time and is now having a tantrum. Then they get embarrassed and sort of run out of steam.

    I also try very hard to never allow myself to become angry, because it feels like a trangression of what I consider my own core moral values; I believe that the emotional energy of anger ought to be transmuted into more constructive emotions and put to useful purposes.

    “Please stop apologizing for everything!”
    “Oh – I’m sorry!” :-)

  5. Dragonmamma says:

    Apologising for everything is the classic symptom of someone who has been “a victim”, whether they know it or not. and the desire to appease and please in excess is also most commonly seen in the same people. There will come a day when you can stand your ground in the face of anger- and hopefully remain reasonable and calm as Ace suggests. It is definitely the best way to diffuse anger. I just wish I had had that kind of control when I was younger and not retaliated with my own anger at such times. But then age and hindsight are great teachers.
    Dont beat yourself up too much about this. Some things take longer to get a grip on and you have your life in front of you to learn better coping strategies. Hugs.

  6. Michelle says:

    Can you please either accept or reject my posts. : )

    I don’t understand how you can lump anger & morals into the same category. Anger is an emotion. Morals is an example of our actions in life & everyone’s perception of what is moralistic is different.

    I think putting on a mask & pretending isn’t moral. I think lying constantly isn’t moral. You & others probably disagree.

    There are many people who can’t control their anger. Doesn’t mean it’s right or wrong unless they are hurting others. It does mean they need to get help in some area or they are being triggered by something causing the anger.

    This is why I’m a strong believer in alternative therapy at least once or more per year.

    The best way to avoid anger is to communicate, but in my case one of my triggers is stupid, immature or mean spirited people & it’s kind of hard for me to communicate with those types. Others can communicate with them fine, but those are my triggers & I can’t.

    I also get angry when I have to repeat myself over & over again. After 3 or more times of repeating the same thing, that’s when I cut things off. I don’t do it in anger much anymore, but I just don’t want to deal with it.

    Again, this is either b/c the person is stupid, or is being passive aggressive.

    I’d rather deal with a person who is angry than someone who is passive aggressive & playing controlling games. People think people who are angry are much more dangerous. I disagree. People who play games & manipulate through their passive aggression are much more dangerous b/c you never know what they are thinking or up to.

    We all wish we could just dump all of our anger (at least I do), but I don’t beat myself up when I am angry, I’ve just learned to let the anger go a lot more quickly now.

  7. Kerran says:

    Hmm. Anger *can* be a positive emotion, but it can obviously also be destructive. Anger for justified reasons is fine. People being angry for petty, personal or irrational reasons is not.

    For instance the way you describe your Ex acting could justifiably make people who know you angry, because throwing your partner out of the house for not having sex with you isn’t “anger” it’s “emotional abuse”

    There is nothing that can justify that sort of reaction (ok, maybe if you had spent days taunting him and winding him up then changing your…. nope. He’s still a dick. Sorry)

    Unfortunately, it sounds like he’s already imprinted this behaviour on you, so that you worry way more than you should about offending people. (not that it’s a bad thing to think about the consequences of what you say, but you shouldn’t have to live your life apologising for being yourself )

    The only way I’ve found around that is constant re-enforcement that it’s ok to speak your mind and that even if you *do* manage to stick your foot in it you’ll be forgiven anyway. Fortunately Nomad is an excellent person to do just that. :-)

  8. Hey its your former housemate, the one you can count on for an opinion on your life lol, seriously though still here for advice if you need it.
    But I’m gonna say my peace. I’m not a naturally angry person except in the cases of very rude strangers on my time of the month, otherwise I’m pretty mellow. Now on the few times I have gotten into an argument Ive noticed a marked difference on how I feel depending on the situation and I’ve learned this.
    You are going to feel crap either way.
    How long you feel bad for is based on whether or not you stand up for yourself. (assuming it’s not your fault and deep down you know it isn’t despite the want or need to smooth things over). If you say nothing and let yourself be yelled at, and be a meek lil mouse then your gonna hate yourself, not for making them angry which is a part of it but mostly at yourself for being such a weakling and that could last months or even years, I still get angry thinking about shit I should have said to douchbags at school back when I was timid. I got over that when one year a bully pushed me too far and I snapped. I cut him up with words (and a writer was born!) even though i wasn’t particularly articulate (lots or cursing) It felt good to get angry back, to not let myself be intimidated and get some of my own back. Cause even though it felt just as rough as all the other times; afterwards I got to feel self respect, and nothing feels quite so damn good. So basically what I’m saying is that even in domestic arguments there can be bully’s, and I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that. You can either stand up to them in those heated moments or leave them, entirely and still have your self respect. It’s going back to those jack asses that’ll make you feel like crap forever because you let them get away with it by doing nothing.
    Incidentally, if you think a person is going to get violent A) why the hell you around that person int he first place??? and B) get the hell out of dodge, don’t even say your going; just grab your bag and run, send a friend to get your stuff in the morning cause violence, needless to say, is not cool. Screw self respect in violence HAUL. ASS. you can be self respectful when your safe.
    I think I’ve made my point. rambles aside…..

    oh and follow meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee miss you x

    • missamaranth says:

      Hey, thanks for following and commenting!

      There are times when ‘standing up for yourself’ can be extremely difficult. I think a lot of us grow up with the cultural idea that expressing any anger outwardly is always a bad thing, so yelling back at someone who shouts at me usually doesn’t enter my head as a possibility. Also I’m afraid of my own anger. Partner and Metamour were apparently both simultaneously shocked and proud recently when I unexpectedly lost my temper.

      Meek little mouse? Yeah that’s me. Always have been. Working on changing it, but its difficult after a lifetime of programming that anger isn’t acceptable, and six years of being left until I backed down every time a relationship argument happened. It gets pretty deeply ingrained that meek and quiet and respectful and apologetic is the way to be to avoid making waves!

      As for the getting violent thing, perhaps my meaning on that wasn’t clear. It’s been a long time since I’ve been around someone who I seriously believed had the capacity to become physically violent. It’s just a completely irrational thought that flies into my head because I often thought my ex was about to hit me, though amazingly he never actually did. So it’s still one of the first places my mind runs to, despite the complete irrationality of the whole thing.

      Thanks for the ramble, you always give interesting perspectives on stuff, I miss our laptop parties and kitchen rambles! Miss you!

  9. River says:

    I’ll have to process this more, but I want to thank you for your post. A lot. I can definitely relate to the fight-or-flight mode you talk about, for me it comes from childhood. It is such an extreme feeling, the fear, and usually for me it manifests in wanting to get the hell out of the situation. Wanting to get rid of the feeling. Wanting my partner never to express their anger so that I wouldn’t feel like that. (And for me too it is completely irrational and not based on actually needing to get out; I am grateful that I nowadays don’t have a violent person in my everyday life.) Now I’ve started to question that, and to think that maybe I want to work on the extremity of the reaction instead of wishing to never be around anything triggering. I do wonder, though, how much can be done about it, at least without help.

  10. t_heretic says:

    I don’t think my reaction’s quite as strong, but I am somewhat similat. I have been severely freaked by being trapped in a car with a driver angry at traffic and/or other drivers.

    It’s gotten to the point where I’m mentally rehearsing unsnapping my seat belt and bailing out the door at the next red light.

    One thing that’s helped me, and I commend to you, it a technique for making it clear that the anger is directed elsewhere.

    What my sweetie driver does is ask me to curse out the idiot in the blue Lexus up ahead who just pulled out of a driveway forcing us to step on the brakes.

    Obviously, saying rude things about other people’s driving from the privacy of our own car is a fairly safe preactice situation, but it’s helped me see myself as on the “sending” rather than the “receiving” end of the anger.

    In fact, it’s become something of an “us” thing to come up with hilraiously elaborate curses. (“Look, it’s the human piñata! Obviously people beat on you with sticks until your head cracked open and all the contents fell out.”)

  11. Nomad says:

    Hmmmm… It occurs to me: Anger is ALSO only one letter short of hanger. Just saying… *grin* *wink* *kiss*

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