I used to believe that anger was my go-to emotion. If I didn’t know how to respond, if I felt out of control, I would respond with anger. What I’ve learned in my recovery is that my go-to emotion was rage, and yes, there is a difference. Anger is about the “Here and Now.” It has to do with something that has just been said or done. Rage is about the “Then and There.” It’s a response to what’s been said over the weeks, months and years. It’s about what has been done and has built up inside resulting in an explosion.
Anger lives in the present. Your wife or a friend drops something that has deep meaning to you. It doesn’t break but it had the potential to. Because you are living in the present you can feel and express what has taken place in minutes. You see that it didn’t happen deliberately. You express your feelings for the item and the need for the other person to exercise care when handling it and you’re able to continue your interaction with your wife or friend and make the most of your time together.
On the other hand, rage is a response to events you have experienced and held on to over time. The item is dropped but not broken but your response isn’t focused on what just took place. You are remembering and responding to an older sibling that used to take the toys and things that meant the most to you and deliberately broke them just to torment you. Maybe you’re responding to the way your mother or father, when angry with you would take something you cared about and give it away. You’re response doesn’t match what took place because it carry’s with it all the pain and trauma from your past. It’s disproportionate to what has just taken place. You find yourself saying things like, “You want to destroy what’s important to me.” A counselor once told me, “Rage has moved more people out of relationships than U-Haul.”
With the help of others I have learned and am still learning to recognize when I am reacting with rage. I’m able to step back and reevaluate what has happened and how I am responding. I am learning to apologize and save relationships. I am learning to identify pain and trauma from the passband bring it into the present so that it can be dealt with and processed and in doing so it loses its power over my reactions and behavior.
Can you identify with the response and behavior I have described here? Would you like more information? If so, shoot me a message. I’d be happy to talk with you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.