In Conflict

In Conflict.

Martha Crawford, of What a Shrink Thinks, hits another one out of the park (and once again engenders deep envy in me for her writing abilities and insight)! If you have ever struggled with anger (and who among us hasn’t? 🙂 ), read this article. I am incredibly grateful that this is the attitude that I have seen BN take about anger. I am amazed at how he invites me to express it and how welcoming he is (and excited! Therapists are weird!) when I manage to. Anger has always been a difficult emotion for me, full of fear, since I saw it almost always modeled simultaneously with violence. It has taken years, a lot of difficult work, and two patient therapists for me to see the creative, positive side of anger that Martha describes so beautifully here.

Why are you still reading this? Go read the article! 😀

  1. muff
    December 18, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    ” I am amazed at how he invites me to express it and how welcoming he is (and excited! Therapists are weird!” LOL. Ditto. That’s the only time T looks ‘alive.’


    • December 18, 2013 at 5:48 pm

      I know, right?!? They’re like a kid at Christmas who suddenly realizes they’re getting EXACTLY what they asked Santa for! 😀 Hope you’re well Muff! xx AG


      • muff
        December 18, 2013 at 5:50 pm

        Thinks we should get a rebate each time anger/rage is expressed:) Doing OK AG. Thanks for asking.
        xx Muff


  2. December 18, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    Already read it! And I agree that it is good. And timely for me while I am dealing with so much anger. Right now I feel as though it will never end. Actually, it’s anger and grief together.

    How are you doing? I’ve been wondering about you…


    • December 20, 2013 at 4:10 pm

      (((Cat))) Isn’t anger and grief a lovely combination? I am sorry, I know how exhausting and painful it can be when walking that road.

      I started to answer your question about how I was and it got a little long. 🙂 So if you don’t mind, I’m going to try and just post an update on the blog. But I so appreciate you asking! xx AG


      • December 20, 2013 at 7:11 pm

        It is indeed a potent combination. I will be on the lookout for your post. 🙂


  3. muff
    December 18, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    Transference? I can understand that ;(


    • December 20, 2013 at 4:11 pm

      Transference?! What transference?! I NEVER displace any rage in BN’s direction! 😉


  4. Still waters run deep
    December 18, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    That is a beautiful understanding of something so fraught with negativity. In the past I have had such incredible anger (RAGE!) without a safe and understanding port in the storm to cast my anchor. It is a terrifying and deeply lonely place to be. I don’t know that I have ever felt the trust to express it honestly to my therapist. I am much more apt to take the politely diminishing stance Martha writes about. And though great in many things my therapist didn’t address it head on. Expressing anger with my husband is a confusing affair because he hides and deflects as much as possible. Even when it has nothing to do with him. My current therapist says that depression is the flip side of anger. Unprocessed anger turned inward until your insides are chewed to a pulp. Much to process with that article and much appreciation for the person / therapist who offers themselves up as a vessel made of steel. For that is the only thing that could contain the hurricaine that storms within me. Thanks AG for posting the link. The complexity is really fascinating.


    • December 20, 2013 at 4:16 pm

      I feel for you with your husband. Expressing anger was a real problem in my marriage for a long time as my husband and I’s past intersected in weird, reinforcing ways. He was very scared of anger because of his father, so when I got angry, he would withdraw. I had a history of being abandoned when I expressed strong emotions combined with using anger to control because I saw my father model that, and both beliefs were strengthened by his reaction. We both had to learn a lot in that area. I can tell you thought that things are a lot better. We both do a better job being able to stay and hear each other’s anger now. Which means we really can face and deal with the problems.

      I understand your need for a safe anchor. It has only been through BN helping me to contain my rage that allowed me to finally express it (and at that, it took me close to seven years!). I am glad you found the article helpful. Martha’s writings are full of wisdom and insight. xx AG


      • Still Waters Run Deep
        December 20, 2013 at 8:50 pm

        ((AG)), As your response posted this afternoon I was sitting in my therapist’s office trying to reel my husband back from the brink of shutting down because he was fearful of my anger. We have a ways to go before we can stay present with each other in anger. Our therapist introduced the concept of projective identification to us as a possibility of what happens. And, yes, I see abandonment interwoven throughout all of this; one of my biggest fears. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. You are a very generous soul.


  5. December 19, 2013 at 6:28 am

    Anger is important; it tells us there is something which needs to be addressed.


    • December 20, 2013 at 4:22 pm

      I very much agree. As I have learned to be less scared of my anger, I have been amazed how much information it has yielded about how I am doing and things that need to be changed. ~ AG


  6. Mrs. Sharkey
    December 19, 2013 at 10:37 am

    I love What A Shrink Thinks. I discovered her through your blog and started following her almost immediately. She’s such a wonderful writer, and the way she practices sounds very similar to my own therapist.

    Like many of us, I also struggle with anger. I have a very bad temper that I keep very firmly in check. My therapist suggested once that I might want to express my anger by whaling away at a pile of pillows with a tennis racket. I looked at him as though he’d lost his mind. 😉


    • December 20, 2013 at 4:25 pm

      Mrs. Sharkey,
      Glad I led you to her blog! Her writing has been so helpful for me, and I have sent a number of links to her articles to BN.

      OK pile of pillows with a tennis racket is one I have never heard! 🙂 Ripping phone books, punching pillows, but never anything involving a tennis racket. One of my favorites is a stretch of open road and screaming as loud as I want to. I am much more comfortable now with my anger (thank you BN!) but I never think it will be an emotion I easily accept.


      • Ms. Sharkey
        December 21, 2013 at 3:47 pm

        There’s actually a pile of pillows in the corner of my therapist’s office, along with a tennis racket and a pair of boxing gloves. His suggestion was that I might want to express some anger during a session. *boggle* Um….no! Not going there thankyouverymuch.

        (Can you tell I need to work on this whole expressing anger thing?) 😉


  7. Ann
    December 19, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    I hate to be angry and I hate conflict!!! That makes therapy challenging. 🙂 xoxo Ann


    • December 20, 2013 at 4:26 pm

      Gosh, Ann, I have NO idea what you’re talking about! (Where’s that sarcasm emoticon when you really need it?!)


  8. December 20, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    My anger now (and grief)is because my therapist has moved to another state after 7 plus years – sometimes it makes me so angry at him – then sadness – and grief – and gratitude for having such a wonderful man in my life for so long. God, I miss him so – “termination” is so harsh – I want to throw up often. I am seeing a young counselor now who trained under him just to express my emotions and try to work through them. Right now I don’t give a darn about the holidays, or most anything except thinking about him and missing the security and protection I felt when I was with him. I am 35,000 plus words into writing a book – a fantasy/reality book – about a character based on him and another character with shall we say a striking resemblance to me (except she’s thin, pretty and “hot”) – it deals with transference and strong feelings of attachment and in writing it, is helping me work thru the pain. Would like to publish it someday if there is enough interest. I like this blog a lot. Thank you.


    • December 20, 2013 at 4:29 pm

      So sorry to hear about your therapist moving away. My first therapist retired (after 20+ years) and it’s a difficult loss. Especially because a lot of people do not understand why it is such a major loss. I am glad that you have sought out help to deal with the feelings. FWIW, I did find it became easier after a period of grief. I have many wonderful, dear memories of my first therapist and the loss doesn’t really sting anymore. I am also glad that you were able to find an outlet in your writing. I know I do in mine, although my bent is not towards fiction in writing (not enough imagination!). Thank you for the kind words about the blog and for commenting. ~ AG


  9. December 30, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    I know it will become easier but right now he comes back intermittently to his home which is about to be sold and it is only 2 blocks from my daughter’s home. When I see the cars in the driveway, I just melt down, bite my fingernails till they bleed and dissolve into tears. I write down my feelings but I still don’t understand the harshness of “termination” – just an occasional being able to send him a note or a cartoon or something … how can he just walk away after 7 plus years and not “care”…I’m a rational adult 63 year old who is absolutely crushed – ANd my grief counsellor who trained under him and who I like ok (she’s my youngest son’s age so it’s certainly a different dynamic but that’s good for me right now) – well my new health insurance isn’t going to be accepted by the Samaritan Institute where I go – so another loss. I can pay outright at a reduced fee once a month maybe but it’s not the same. It’s a difficult period for me – but I know many of us have been there and it will get better. Right now it just consumes me – but thank you so much for being there and so happy you have a great therapist – we are so lucky, huh?


    • January 3, 2014 at 9:27 pm

      I’m sorry, having to see him nearby, but not being able to “see” him has to be so incredibly difficult. The ending can feel very unnatural, but I do want to reassure you that I do believe the ending is hard on the therapist also. Probably not as intense, as they do not need us the way we need them, but it is a real relationship and I believe that it is sad for them to end it as well. I think he does care, but the nature of the boundaries in therapy is such that it is difficult to move from the therapeutic relationship into another type of relationship. I have known clients who have attempted to do so and with rare exceptions, most have regretted it. We do not see the whole person in therapy but what we envision and long for is having that person available all the time. But they have their own needs, its just that the boundaries are used by them to keep their needs out of the room. After therapy ends, those dynamics shift and in a way that can hurt a client. FWIW, I believe that you carry each other in your hearts and always will. Our connections can extend over any distance and any time. All that said, I know this is brutally painful and adding insurance difficulties on top of it is like rubbing salt in the wound. I hope you are able to work out a stable situation for help in grieving. I am glad that you had such a good experience with him, though the price you pay is this grief. And yes, I consider people like us, who find one of the good ones, to be very blessed ~ AG


  10. Sunflower
    February 12, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    I just read that post, actually, and YES, it was written superbly. She is amazing.
    PS Nice to be visiting your blog again. I was gone a long time. Will be catching up here and there! Hope your surgery went well.


  11. February 24, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    Hi Sunflower! Welcome back, its good to “see” you. I totally agree about Martha.
    Sorry it has taken so long to reply, I have been on vacation and recovering from the surgery. Which went very well, thanks. My doctor cleared my hand the end of last week and I am once again a two-typer, which is making me very happy! ~ AG


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