Anger can come in different forms. Sometimes, it’s sudden verbal outbursts, sometimes aggression, and sometimes anger is supressed and slowly boils.
In my case, for years I suppressed my anger toward someone who had hurt me and my family. The aftermath of what they caused was so difficult for me and my family to deal with, the thought of someone telling me to try and forgive them made my blood boil. Why should I forgive them? Why should they just get away with it? Having a passive voice, I never said anything. Instead I pushed my feelings towards the pit of my stomach and hoped I’d soon get over it.
I never said anything. Instead I pushed my feelings towards the pit of my stomach and hoped I’d soon get over it.
Holding onto the past
After attending therapy for a few months and talking with my therapist about what I’d been through, it became clear that I was holding onto the past. In doing so, I hoped that it would somehow change it or rewrite it. The anger that I had suppressed for so long had caused me to have nightmares, and was constantly in the back of my mind. It was anger I didn’t know what to do with.
It was no surprise to me when I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety a few years ago. The question was though, where did it come from?
I’ve never been confrontational towards people. The thought of standing up to the person I was angry with made me feel sick. However, as my therapist showed me, there were ways I could cope. For a start, just venting and telling someone how I felt, and having them understand, was a big weight off my shoulders. But there was still more work to do.
After my therapist and I re-assessed the issues, the first big step for me was writing a letter to them. When she suggested this I froze. She then told me that I was in control and the decision was in my hands; she said I could write it and then burn it, or rip it up and release it. This seemed like the best decision.
Writing the letter gave me confidence. I started to realise that speaking up about how I felt was not about unleashing my anger on this person, but something I needed to do for me. Forgiving them was not for their benefit, but for mine. So, I sent the letter.
Just venting and telling someone how I felt, and having them understand, was a big weight off my shoulders.
After sending this letter, the depression and anxiety I was experiencing declined massively. It really helped knowing that someone understood how I felt, and that this person that had broken me so badly finally understood what they had done. It made me more confident as a person and taught me to stand up for myself, no matter how big or small the situation is.
If you don’t want to forgive someone, that’s okay. You don’t have to like them, you don’t have to forget what they did, you don’t even have to have contact with them. My biggest learning curve was understanding that it will benefit me more to forgive and not forget it, than them.
Your own mental health is the most important thing and overcoming fears that may cause you to be depressed, lonely or anxious is a challenge that you should be willing to take. You are too important to be defined by your mental health.
Where to get help
Whatever you're struggling with and however you're feeling, help is available.