Rage as a Mask over Fear

(From MONDAY, JANUARY 31, 2011)
Healing Rage

I love the 101. This feels like my gift to the world.

Why? Read the following, posted today by one of my students. This is good, solid, meaningful work.


This is turning into a very different round. Last round I kept myself off of any supplementary self-help books in order to really focus on the program (I have a history of self-sabotage by exposing myself to more wisdom than I can absorb.)

This round, it’s like my slate’s been cleared for some serious supplemental work.

So, late in last round, I started getting a real clear look at my own worst side. It was like I’d at last discovered my inner child, and she was “a fat, sulky, spoiled fat year old who felt totally entitled to take from the world to make up for her pain.” You should have seen my therapist dress me down for saying that– I recall her words ending that conversation as “the age was the only part you got right in that description.”

So in the meantime, the first of the self-help books I picked up, put back down, and put on hold until 2011 came in. Ruth King’s _Healing Rage_. (For all you writers out there, _Healing Rage_ started as a self-published book that was supposed to come and go like a shooting star… until a copy fell into Alice Walker’s hands and she declared it one of the most important books she’d ever read.)

So I ate up the first chapter and the second and totally delighted in the whole book right up until the little quiz where Ruth King gets the reader to identify the particular major disguise that the reader uses to cover her Rage: Dominance (active Fight), Defiance (reactive Fight), Devotion (active Flight), Distraction (reactive Flight), Dependence (active Freeze) and Depression (reactive Freeze).

I tested Dependence. I don’t want to write that here, I don’t want to share that with y’all, I don’t want to listen to it myself, and if I had read the book two weeks– just two weeks before I did… I absolutely would not have believed it.

But I could not ignore the results in the book exactly matching the journal notes I’d been making on what I see as I become able to see myself at my worst.

So, meanwhile, my therapist sends me home with a new sheet she’d entitled “Core Beliefs”. I’m calling them “Fear Languages”. You heard of the idea that we have primary “Love Languages”– that if a Touch person isn’t getting Touch all the good Words in the world won’t get through, etc.? Well, this was a sheet of primal-level personal Fears– that particular Fear that if it gets twanged, you’re not hearing anything else, you’re not thinking any longer, you are in the maelstrom.

Took us about ten seconds to figure out my Core Fear is Helplessness.

So– the persona with which I face the world, the way I structure social situations around my Rage… is Dependence.

And the trigger condition which will totally unhinge me, is Helplessness.

Let’s think about how those two constructs work in tandem.

I think I’m due an honorary engineering degree for this one.

So, that was the background. This week’s breakthrough, I took a long hard look at what went well and what didn’t on my first chaplaincy shifts, and nailed the tail of what didn’t go well as it tried to shrink away. I didn’t introduce myself to the chief nurse of my unit because the nurses were too busy to disturb. Uh-uh. That’s not an observation, that there is an excuse: nurses are always busy. If I stay “nice” and “quiet” and “out of the way”, my unit’s chief nurse is never going to know me the way he or she needs to; I have to come out behind the mask to do this job right.

I have just reached the point where what I have consciously chosen to do with my life has locked horns with what I have unconsciously chosen to do with my life.

Plus, there’s been a metric ton of schoolwork that I can barely keep up with.


Steve here again. Whoa. If this student takes action, she will experience genuine growth. Information that does not affect behavior has little value. I suspect there’s gold in them thar words.

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