Are you holding onto anger from living with an alcoholic?

anger and resentment _ families of alcoholics - jo huey

Are you holding onto anger from living with an alcoholic? When anyone has been in a situation where they’ve been mistreated it’s bound to cause feelings of anger.

I think I’d be lying if I said no. For years and years I hated my Mum and Dad. I hated my Dad for his drinking and the appalling things he did. I hated my Mum for not protecting me as a child and standing up for what’s right. 

What caused the anger? 

The first thing that comes to mind is being misunderstood. I just didn’t feel that my parents really got me. I know my Mum struggled to understand where I was coming from. Both my parents found it hard that I was inquisitive, always asking questions.

I wasn’t someone that did as they were told and just said OK Mum/Dad, and faded into the distance.  My anger started when I felt that I wasn’t listened to. No one had the time to sit down with me, have a conversation and really understand how I was feeling. 

I needed help to articulate how I was feeling because in an alcoholic home you’re always told not to feel, not directly in that way but when you try and say how you feel, you’re often told that your feelings aren’t real. I remember my Mum saying, “don’t be silly”, or Dad saying “what are you crying for”. So to feel wasn’t acceptable. 

It was normal for me to get angry but I think that was mostly frustration, the lack of being understood and not listened to caused me to feel frustrated at my parents. 

Specifically I felt anger towards my Mum because I often told her that Dad was drinking again, but she didn’t believe it. She also didn’t protect me, I told her things that went on in the house and I felt very upset but she ignored it. I just learnt that I can’t turn my Mum to stick up for me. 

How can anger you hold onto impact your life?

By now I hope you can relate to my experiences and I wanted to ask you again, are you holding onto anger from living with an alcoholic? Not only will it be affecting you on an emotional level (your tolerance maybe low), you’ll affect yourself physically.

I know I’d come out in spots when I got stressed and angry. I’d have a low tolerance and snap at people for the most trivial thing. Ultimately the only person you hurt by holding onto the anger is you. Because more often than not, the other person has either forgotten about it, or doesn’t remember what they said or did anyway.  Other times they have chosen to block it out and move on with their life, leaving you stuck.

holding onto anger - families of alcoholics - jo huey

How to stop holding onto the anger from living with an alcoholic

Recognising it is a good start. Usually anger will come up in your life now. Often it’s not about whatever is going on in the present, but cultivated from the past. I’ve seen it a lot of times, people getting angry about the way someone does something, or says something. 

I often say “it’s not about how he ate his dinner” or “it’s not about the fact she kept you waiting”. There is something going on at a deeper level.  (this is a big generalisation, but if it’s consistent and long term anger, it’s from the past).

If you’re prone to getting angry,  notice it. That’s it. That’s a good enough place to start. Again, is it in a context, with certain people? in certain places, in specific situations?

If you’d like to read more on holding onto anger from living with an alcoholic, I’ve written another blog article about how it affects your happiness, you can read it here.

You might like to check out a very practical workbook I’ve put together, with instructions. Specifically written for people that have encountered trauma/lived with someone’s alcohol misuse. Click here to give your details and receive your free copy!

Alternatively, please remember you aren’t alone. There are a lot of people that have similar feelings and have experienced similar things. Come along to the closed Facebook Group, Change Your Mind. We support each other with the focus on positive change and encouragement. Click here to join and I’ll approve you once you get there. 

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