Do You Drink Or Use to Repress Your Rage?

Many people mistakenly believe substance abuse helps them get rid of anger.

Many people mistakenly believe substance abuse helps them get rid of anger.

Women in general are trained not to show anger – Southern women especially. I grew up in the South in the Reagan years, the daughter of a divorced mom. I was close to my dad, step-mother, step-brother, and grandparents.

No one ever argued; no one ever fought. The one or two times I said something in anger, I was swiftly and harshly reprimanded.

Nice Girls Don’t Get Angry…Right?

I learned to repress all anger, any rage. Eventually, in my late twenties, I discovered an easy way to get rid of the anger: wine! Family holidays became fun as the wine and margaritas and Bloody Mary’s flowed freely. I would sometimes throw up in the morning, but I was always so nice – never feeling any anger or really much of anything at all.

Later on, when I was in a long-term relationship and owned a house with my boyfriend, I would get drunk and finally vent my anger at him over things I couldn’t talk about sober. One night I even threw a full glass of wine across the kitchen. It made a terrible mess, leaving shards of glass all over the floor (and making me realize that, if you’re going to throw a glass of wine, it should be white, not red).

The angrier I got – at my job, my boyfriend, even my family – the more I drank. I didn’t know how to communicate or negotiate, I only knew how to smile politely when sober and either drink to the point of almost passing out at the local dive bar or get drunk at home and throw a fit.

5 Ways to Release the Rage

In sobriety, I had to learn how to confront the rage in a healthy way. With the help of my therapist and a few close friends and family, here’s what I learned.

  • Keep Communication Open

    If you’re angry at a friend or family member, find a quiet time. Ask if they are open to talking about what’s bothering you. That keeps those emotions from getting repressed.

  • Find Healthy Ways to Get the Negative Energy Out

    Run, do yoga, even just take a walk.

  • Plan Ahead

    When you know you’re walking into a situation that will make you angry, have a strategy for how you handle it.

  • Talk to Someone Uninvolved

    A therapist is a great person to talk to, or a trusted friend who isn’t embroiled in the situation.

  • When You Do Feel Rage, Forgive Yourself

    It’s a natural human emotion. Don’t beat yourself up for being angry. Let yourself off the hook. I used to feel so guilty the morning after a fight with my ex. I’d grovel to him, then resent the groveling.

Remember, anger is normal. Repressing it can be a quick way to relapse. Protect yourself and your loved ones by finding healthy ways to let it out!

Additional Reading:   Clean, Sober and Totally Pissed Off: A Bad Trifecta

Image Source: iStock

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