“Anger ventilated often hurries toward forgiveness; and concealed often hardens into revenge.” Edward Bulwer-Lytton
Have you ever loved an alcoholic or addict? Probably most reading this would answer, “Yes!”
Alcoholics and addicts (love, sex, porn, gambling, shopping, eating, etc.) are angry about a lot of different things:
Growing up in an alcoholic’s or addict’s home
Wrong shape, size, color
Bad, dysfunctional relationships
Hating their jobs
The list could go on and on.
The people who love us have to put up with abuse, bad moods, depression, frustration, lies, manipulation, and lots and lots of broken promises and relapses.
Our loved ones pray for us, berate us, leave us, pay for interventions, give up on us, and come back to us or find another alcoholic or addict and experience the Bill Murray “Groundhog” movie mania that can drive anyone insane.
Now one of the misleading missing pieces of recovery is the rule that you’re not supposed to be angry. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says we don’t have the luxury of our basic human emotion – anger.
Years ago, I attended an AA speaker’s meeting in Georgia. The guest speaker had 36 years of so-called sobriety. She was one of the angriest “old-timers” I’d ever listened to.
After the meeting, about eight of us went to lunch. I was hesitant to say anything at first. Most of my lunch companions knew I worked in the field of recovery, and I have done so for 35 years.
Finally, Stan, who doesn’t talk at the meetings said, “Did anybody think she was very angry?”
Well, the gossip flew around the table like buzzards pecking over a dead possum carcass. By the way, gossiping in my book, The Missing Peace, is a form of anger and rage. I slipped. But everyone at the table agreed she was pretty much full of venom that spewed out on all who heard her – so it wasn’t just me. Never mind the alcoholic cliché, “If you spot it, you got it.” Anger and rage are like a virus that spreads contagion (sorry about the timing of these words).
So, here’s what I did after that meeting. I went directly home, sat down, and wrote this book, The Missing Peace.
It is not anger that drives us to drink, drives away the people who love us, but RAGE!? Rage is what us alcoholics and addicts must avoid for the fear of relapse and self-destruction. Rage is what covers our emotions. Rage covers sadness, loneliness, and sometimes, even love. Anger is a feeling while rage is an action or behavior that numbs our feelings.
Anger is an emotion that is God-given for us to feel, to stop injustice, abuse, and get us out of stuck places. Rage is a stuck place that alcoholics, addicts, and those who love us know too well.