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CPTSD, PTSD, Intergenerational Trauma: When Anger Is in Charge


Anything and everything can make me angry. Growing up, this was attributed to my Sicilian heritage. It was just my Sicilian temper. You know, the murderous kind that makes mobsters snap in movies. That makes them break things and yell with a pitch so high their voice alone could kill. Like Judge Doom in the movie, Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Who I don’t think was Sicilian, but you get the point.

But as I’ve been learning about my disorders, I now realize how closely linked my anger is to it. Connected. Bonded. Inseparable. Maybe this means my Sicilian ancestors had disorders too. Trauma is after all, inherited.

I’m noticing my anger occurs around my sensory and neurological triggers. When I hear an intrusive sound, when I smell something invasive, when I get overwhelmed. When something changes. When I can’t think. When my thoughts are cloudy and confused. When I’m clumsy. When I can’t move. When I’ve pushed myself too far.

My anger is both fickle and relentless. Fleeting and grounded. Evasive. All-consuming. It has caused me to lose control more times than I can account for. And it’s always there. Waiting. Ready to pounce.

Sometimes, my anger is physically destructive. I’ve punched through drywall countless times. I once kicked a hole through a wall. And I’ve broken countless objects like remotes, coffee mugs, doors, hairbrushes. I even accidentally broke a beautiful letter opener that my sister gave me as a Christmas present because I got angry while using it. Thankfully, it was in the envelope I was trying to open; otherwise, the pointy end may have found its way elsewhere.

But my anger is always emotionally destructive. Taking me and whomever is around down with it. Getting me into trouble with others. Having them take it personally. Thinking I’m crazy. Leaving me feeling bad for days after. For weeks. Months. Years.

Days I’m feeling angry, I can’t do anything that requires too much concentration. Or too much left-brained thinking. Doing logical tasks like paying bills. Using motor skills like driving. These skills take too much of my energy, and I'm left overwhelmed and drained. And full of anger.

It's also not wise for me to talk about my anger. What may be healthy venting for some turns into a full-on rant for me. My anger grows, feeding off of my words and before I know it, I'm even more worked up than when I started. So on days I'm angry, it's best if I keep it to myself. To write it down. To sit and stew privately. To practice being mindful.

If my anger warns me it’s coming with a feeling bubbling up in me, then I can sometimes thwart it off. Smoke medicinal marijuana. Smell essential oils. Meditate. Rock in my chair or jump on the trampoline. Run. Soothe myself to try to quell it.

But when it sneaks up on me, there is no escape. I am at its mercy and must obey what it tells me to do. I am a hostage. As if held by gunpoint. With my anger calling the shots.

This post was updated from its original version on September 4, 2020.

Photo by mwangi gatheca on Unsplash

All images and text © Jenna Grace 2017-2020