justifiable anger

Current topics and news from The Grapevine.

justifiable anger

Postby Karl R » Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:41 am

A very nice share on justifiable anger from the Grapevine digital archives.

Copyright © The AA Grapevine, Inc. (July 1971 vol. 28 no. 2 ). Reprinted with permission.

Justifiable" Anger
She couldn't afford to lose her temper--and she has the slips to prove it
I HAVE JUST COMPLETED a 24-hour period which is one of the most important I've experienced in my search for recuperation in AA. It isn't a birthday nor any other kind of anniversary, nor have I resisted yet another compulsion to take a drink. During the past 24 hours, I have quite simply taken a giant step toward humility, for me, and have moved noticeably closer to the kind of AA love I want to exhibit and to feel. For the first time in the eleven months since I took my last drink--eleven months of daily AA meetings, eleven months of studying the AA program and struggling to practice it--I have managed to hold out against "justifiable" anger, something I can no longer afford, as I have been told time and time again. Some of us arc just slow learners, I guess.

To understand what a turning point this is for me, you must understand that 1 am famous for my violent temper. My rages arc bad enough for any and all who are exposed to them; but for me they arc pure hell, as close to a drunk as I can get without alcohol. For many a year, I made no attempt at any time to control my temper, most certainly not when I was "right." I had a couple of other slips in the six months preceding that last dilly eleven months ago, and both were the direct results of temperamental outbursts.

In the space of 24 hours, I found three reasons to be "justifiably" angry with a woman whom I dearly love. She has been of very great service to me ever since I've been around the program, and she is the greatest A1-Anon worker I know. Yet, in one day, she made a remark about my "stupid head"; ridiculed a fellow female AA member to mutual friends, in my presence; and referred to a couple of my children as "sneaky little so-and-sos." Don't tell me I didn't have the right to tell her off, to blow my top. What a struggle! What a fight! Who would win?--that demon of anger, or the AA program, which has saved my life? Who would come out on top?--a sober Joan or the monster within me?

I tried "cooling" methods which sometimes work. "She didn't mean it. She didn't realize how it sounded. She was not being malicious. She was not trying to hurt me. She really does have my best interests at heart," I told myself over and over.

"Oh, really?" I answered myself. "Well, even so, she can't go around calling my head stupid!" There I was, back where I'd started from. How often I'd said, "No one can make us mad if we don't let him." Could I prove that for once? I began trying, with six good aids.

The Serenity Prayer: "This, by golly," I decided, "is something I can change if I have the courage to do it."

Bill's words on anger (as my sponsor had quoted them to me some sixteen months earlier): "We have found that even justified anger ought to be left to those better qualified to handle it." I found some strength and help in thinking about those words and about the times I had tried to pound that piece of wisdom into the heads of other women like me. But then I'd remember hearing the woman who had "insulted" me saying, "Humility does not mean being a doormat." Wasn't I being a doormat by taking such "insults" without even registering a protest? At the same time, could I protest without loosing the monster? I knew darn well I couldn't!

"Just for today": "I will not show anyone that my feelings are hurt," I said to myself. "They may be hurt, but today I will not show it." That helped. Surely, since I had put off so many drinks, I could put off a temper tantrum, "just for today."

Live and Let Live: Could I manage that for once in my life, when it was my ego that was being kicked around?

The new member: Did I dare show her, at her fourth meeting, anything other than the image of the happy sobriety I wanted so badly for her? Or could I skip the meeting tonight, when she was counting on my being there? No. My troubles would have to wait at least until after the meeting, and I would just have to "act as if" for her, if I wasn't willing to do it for myself.

Prayer (as suggested in the Seventh Step) : Hadn't I desperately and sincerely asked Him to remove this shortcoming after my last drunk? But was I really doing my part?

I don't know what it was that worked--a little bit of everything, maybe. After the meeting last night, I suddenly didn't have to think about it any more. I wasn't angry, didn't feel like being angry, and didn't even have to worry any more about whether or not I should be angry. The crisis had passed; the monster within me was still in check. The friend who "didn't mean it"--and I am now convinced she truly did not--invited me to her house for coffee after the meeting. We chatted and laughed together like the good friends we are, and suddenly I knew that all my resentment was gone and 'a valuable relationship had been preserved.

I came home with the greatest feeling of satisfaction I've known in some time. I have won a great victory for me, and the next time I have to do battle for the same cause, it will be easier because of my struggle in the past 24 hours. This is the message ! want to carry right now to all those who have terrible tempers like mine. We can do it. We can fight anger and hold it off till it retreats. We can get the better of this monster which, in my own case at least, is almost as dangerous as the first drink! And we can find a great deal of satisfaction and inner peace and security in doing so.

I cannot tell my friend about the part she played in today's victory. Even if she believed that I was sincere in my gratitude, she wouldn't be very flattered, would she? But I am grateful to her, and I know we'll continue working together, each in our own way, with friendship and love, for the well-being of AA.

J. G.
User avatar
Karl R
Forums Coordinator
Posts: 3775
Joined: Sat Jul 19, 2008 3:06 pm

Re: justifiable anger

Postby Tommy-S » Sat Nov 17, 2012 10:11 pm

Good topic...(Thanks, Karl)

Not surprisingly, all my anger was justified. Not once, behind the drink, did the thought ever occur to me that maybe, just maybe, i shouldn't have responded as I did no matter what. in fact, no matter how much damage I did, I took comfort in the rationalization "IF they hadn't done tis, that or the other, I wouldn't have...."

Selfish, self-centered. It was in AA that i was taught I would have to get down to the Causes and Conditions of my Drinking, working hard to eliminate at least the worst of them in order to have a chance at this Sober, Happy Life I saw others demonstrating.

With the help of a Sponsor, we began to unravel some of the problem. He helped me to understand how Fear motivated and controlled me through it's hundred forms. For me, there seemed to be a pattern of Confusion, then Frustration, then Fear, followed by Anger & sometimes Rage.

The Fear that drove the Anger was self-centered, based on a feeling of Powerlessness. I had become accustomed to using Fear & Anger to overcome powerlessness through Sports, Military & on the Streets, Fear could channel Anger such that I could get through most rough or dangerous situations... But it was a skill that didn't go over so well in every day living, so I had to change.

My sponsor shared how his fear/anger was usually one of two things: Things weren't going the way he thought they should, or people weren't doing what he thought they should be doing... And it was certainly the same for me. I was the Director, trying to arrange the lights & scenery & ballet as I thought they should be, and woe to those who didn't follow the script.

Writing and learning and talking of my character defects trough Steps 4 & 5 were a start, but the real understanding came in the willingness to find a better way to live, and that was in Step 6 & 7. Step 7 concludes with the statement
"The chief activator of our defects is a self-centered fear -- primarily Fear we would lose something we already possess or fail to get something we demanded" (12 x 12, pg 77)

Today, while I am far from being the most tolerant and patient soul on the planet, I can keep a check on Anger by guarding up against those self-centered fears, knowing that everything is exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. It works...there's a happiness in my heart and a little quiet in my head.

Thanks... Tommy
Together, we don't have to cave in or wimp out to that Fatal First One, no matter what today!
User avatar
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 2295
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:11 pm
Location: Norfolk, VA

Re: justifiable anger

Postby ann2 » Sun Nov 18, 2012 12:25 am

Boy, I went through something very similar to what the Grapevine writer shared. "Justifiable" anger at my service sponsor. It was totally key, because once I was able to face that -- the anger, I mean, which had its own reality and which I didn't need to adopt as me -- I could love this guy throughout his stormy relationship with me and the rest of the group. None of it matter (and in fact much of it pertained to his physical illness). It was a gift from God that I was able to see my reaction so early in our association with each other, because his work in AA has influenced me in so many positive ways.

Just so instructive, to love someone unconditionally.

Thanks for the reminder.

"If I don't take twenty walks, Billy Beane send me to Mexico" -- Miguel Tejada
User avatar
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 8689
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:01 am
Location: Somewhere in Sweden

Return to The Grapevine Magazine

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest