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justifiable anger

Posted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:41 am
by Karl R
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.

Re: justifiable anger

Posted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 10:11 pm
by Tommy-S
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

Re: justifiable anger

Posted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 12:25 am
by ann2
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.


Re: justifiable anger

Posted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 3:15 am
by positrac
I wanted to look at this topic and see if I was in the right area as some times words get mashed and smeared out of convenience instead of properly placed into topics.
Some years ago a family member had a death in their family and it was a shock and some other stuff and I’ll leave the other stuff alone. But in this process the will which I have no dog in that fight was handled by one of the aunts. She is a greedy individual to say the least and my family member was totally left out into the wind. Now they did receive a reasonable amount of money but not at the cost of a lot of greed.
So my issue with me on this deal is that when you tell me you are grown up and still act like a teenager, and ask for help and then dismiss pure logic it does kind of groin kick me…… Now I am aware of free will in the human spirit and controlling of people, places and things is a farce at best. I know I have enabled and this is not healthy for me and or the individual I am writing about.
Brass tack time: A new vehicle is a huge necessity right now for this person and thus is life we need to ensure our basic needs are met. So last night a test drive topic had come up by another person and I had at first said I’d stay home and then caved in because car dealers love females because they play on your emotional strings and can put the screws to them for the final sale. That point is just my ego and opinion---- Anyways I suggested that they test drive and walk away and think it over as if you show any emotion then you are hooked. I sat in the back seat and typical the salesman really is clueless on anything about the vehicle and that doesn’t fly with me, but I sat back looking and just taking in this new vehicle. After the drive salesman and my family member goes inside and sits down as if to start the deal.
Now for you all who have gone into a dealership the deal is to bore you and wear you down to submit into stuff like cops sweating a perp in the box. So I speak up and say we need to wrap this up and or come back tomorrow. You know in sales to settle out the day is proof for tomorrow’s goals. We are all kind of hungry (HALT) so things get heated up with another family member in our party I haven’t mentioned. I tried to calm the situation and I failed because this should be a happy time…..! And overall the deal went ok given how these things work in sales.
What I am irked about is being used, not being appreciated, and just instantaneous gratification and never slowing down enough to see that we are being provided for if we slow the F-down! I’ve known this person for 20 years and it has been this way the whole time due to circumstances not always in my control. I am difficult personality at times and yet I am also extremely compassionate for others and do want the best--- hence the enabling. I just want to be left alone and I want to live and let this person go off and figure life out without me.
I thought this over and over and my alcoholic mind never lets it go and I can’t fix stupid and I can’t fix those who are still in addiction. I am compulsive and I also know that my actions come with consequences and it is life on life’s terms.
I’d like to hear if I am being overly sensitive, deflecting this because it didn’t go my way. Am I taking full responsibility for my actions honestly? I believe that being sober is learning and for me if I get out of the groove, then I can and will fall victim to life as it is outside my normal routine. For the most part I just sat and listened and I did ask questions and tried to explain things so they would understand my intentions were for the wisest. I’ve bought a few cars and so I am not an expert and yet not totally wet behind the ears. Cars sales is all about them making as much as possible and we feel we walk away with a good deal and it is legal extortion because we need a vehicle and they know they can do as they please and we have little control even if we go someplace else as it is a game and survival of the fittest.
I have no desires to drink and time sober has taught me to think my urges through whenever they pop up and they are far and very few between and this part of sobriety has paid off time and time again. Oddly I feel better getting this off my chest. Many details are left out and as I’ve said before that everything is subjective and has two sides. I hope I focused on me and my feelings because this part with this individual has been a power/control struggle of sorts for a very long time. I know where I have fudged up and those are on me. I am hoping that the other person close to me will also look at the enabling portion and step back like they said last night. The person who is buying the vehicle is on a crash course and life will get them and then they will have some choices to make.

Re: justifiable anger

Posted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:17 am
by PaigeB
OMG - I don't want to get started on used cars. I will add a couple of things to my latest 4th Step and be right back! :shock:

Ok. I am back. Thanks for the reminder Posi... Alcoholics seem to be particularly prone to shiny new things and even those of among us not so inflicted STILL succumb to the power of the shiny new thing. Car salesman have perfected that "luring" you in... I have managed to shoot a few down over the years and other times I have succumb to shiny again myself.

AND! I am at my worst when I think that others have interfered and injured my family. Even when it is family hurting family. Whew - then wait til when crap down the road happens to the car - you should see me on my high horse then! Been THERE a few times.

I really identified with this part, "What I am irked about is being used, not being appreciated... I just want to be left alone and I want to live and let this person go off and figure life out without me." So Question: "Used" or were you going to stay home and then went along? A choice is in there somewhere. And LOL - forget being appreciated ~ it'll never happen and if it does, it'll never be enough! And that stuff at the end of the quote is a classic from my inventory "If you don't want me, I don't want you FIRST!" You can't fire me - I QUIT!

Sorry I didn't mean to laugh, but I have been here before. One time I stayed home and they came home with a shiny new red sportscar... and lost it to the debtor within a year, leaving the co-signer to pay it off the difference after auction (not me). There have been other car deals since then. Now I laugh when they ask for my advice, then I run away fast with my fingers in my ears repeating "nanananaana". Maybe that will change one day.

BUT do I really think I am more powerful than the true will of any HP? HaHA - nooo and I don't want to be either, I only THINK I want to be! I think I know best, but I have to remember I KNOW NOTHING.

Here is a prayer I am stuck on these days... Thomas Merton, not quite a Saint if I recall correctly.
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

Just realized how many times he said "road" in there... :lol:

Look up some pictures of Thomas Merton... he looks grizzled old dude! Or is he a peach? Depends on the perspective of the camera LOL. He's probably somewhere in between, just like the rest of us non-saints.

Re: justifiable anger

Posted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:33 pm
by D'oh
Thank You for the reading! A good reminder for me to "Do as my Sponsor has told me" Start my day out with page 86
On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use. Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives.
Rather than just the "Daily Reflections" which only seems an Easier Way.

Re: justifiable anger

Posted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 3:30 am
by positrac
I appreciate the feed back as this reminds me I am not "unique" I know this full well and yet somewhere inside I am thinking maybe this time!!!!! Paige, I like to laugh at me as it hides my shame when I admit it. And at the end of the day this kind of relationship deal is one where we can never hide from as it is everywhere.

I aired my laundry because I needed to have a dialog of answers later and not totally have to eat crow real time in person and I was able to settle down and just relax and I can see better now. Self pity, guilt and the rest of those bad self seeking motives are a real pain in the tuchus! Pray for the day is a good point and I got recently very distracted at my early rise for the job (0230) and it has been at times all I could do to get up and move as I am an early riser although not that early.

Better day today and this is a great start.

Cheers all.

Re: justifiable anger

Posted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:23 am
by Brock
Thank You for the reading! A good reminder for me to "Do as my Sponsor has told me" Start my day out with page 86...

Rather than just the "Daily Reflections" which only seems an Easier Way.
I believe starting the day on the right footing is important, and these sort of readings and suggestions help us do that. But what I also look for is progress, and P86 worked for a while, but then I knew and tried to practice what it said and needed something new, got a bit tired of the Daily Reflection and moved on, but still read it. Watched Joyce Myer each morning, listened to Chris R and others, moved on, progress looking for more, but learned a lot from all of these.

avaneesh talked so much about Tolle I started to study what it was all about, a fellow here mentioned the daily e-mail he gets from Fr. Richard Rohr, great stuff look forward to it each day, also a daily e-mail from 'Transitions Daily', all you need to do is Google these things and subscribe for free. If you use Facebook then follow 'Friends of Bill W. & Dr. Bob,' just search on Facebook and click follow, then when you are scrolling through posts about dogs and kids that friends put up, (which is the correct place to speak about dogs and kids not here), bang! out of nowhere a lovely AA message hits you.

The point is we keep on searching, more we search more we find, we learn that listening to or reading what these things say is useless, unless we ponder the meaning and the message and act accordingly, just as reading the big book will not get us sober, it's all about putting things into practice.

So I might ask a new person to consider reading P86 each morning, but I should impress on him the need to ponder on what it says, and to seek spiritually uplifting talks and writings from all sources. Choose those which appeal to him personally, don't stick to those which my sponsor or myself liked, if you don't like them search. We are so lucky, technology has given us things like you tube, in the comfort of your living room on TV's that get bigger by the day, there is Richard Rohr, Tolle, Joyce Myer and endless others with uplifting talks, and all for my favorite price, free free free, which is also how we feel when we continue to search for the answers.

Re: justifiable anger

Posted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:34 am
by positrac
Good stuff Brock and yes the right foot for the day does make for smoother transitions. Since this deal I really looked at myself in the mirror and asked myself how I could do things better and prayer, and meditation are good starts. I am off tomorrow and so I can slowly come alive and ease into life unlike this morning up before the dead have gotten cold..... This schedule will last at least another 10 years and then I can do something else and good habits are key.

Brock again well said sir.

Re: justifiable anger

Posted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:37 am
by Layne
and I can’t fix stupid
I tell myself this one all the time...and when I do... hopefully at the same time I make sure to inventory myself to make sure that I am not falling into the category that can't be fixed.

Re: justifiable anger

Posted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:48 am
by positrac
Layne wrote:
and I can’t fix stupid
I tell myself this one all the time...and when I do... hopefully at the same time I make sure to inventory myself to make sure that I am not falling into the category that can't be fixed.
agreed =biggrin

Re: justifiable anger

Posted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 10:43 am
by Noels
Heya everyone, ive been following this thread and must admit I had no idea what it was about until this morning.

I do not get angered easily but today I allowed myself to lose my temper good and solid with husband although I know it is not in my best interest to do so. I think the last time I lost my temper to this extent was while I was still drinking which is a number of moons ago.

The thing when losing my temper to this extent is that it brings the wild side out in me - the "untamed, reckless side".
I still had no desire to hurt him personally – whether via words or a knee in the groin but I also knew that going into the garden like I usually would do would not cut it this time. I had to physically remove myself from the entire atmosphere first. So I got into my rental car and allowed myself to just enjoy the freedom that comes with power and speed. I was under time restriction to get back to the office so it was a very short trip but sufficient. Humming “rock-a-bye-baby” to myself whilst in the shops also helped for some strange reason. LOL. This may not be the best time to laugh at me because of that! :lol:

By the time I got back home I was sufficiently calmed to go into the garden, lie on the grass and just soak up some sun whereafter I went back inside, listened to some explanation about the hectic day hubby’s had as well as take some moaning and groaning from clients since my work is behind, then I logged off, closed my day and went for a nap.

I guess what im trying to say is that its okay to feel what we feel at times. THAT is why we’re called “human” - yet it is never okay to take our feelings out on another. So although I wasn’t the perfect picture today in someone else’s eyes I still am the perfect picture in my own eyes since I dealt with that rage in my own way WITHOUT hurting anyone else who came on my path whilst I was in that angered state. Did I hurt myself by allowing myself to get angered to this extent? – sure – as it took a while (and a nap) to get me back into “serenity” so to speak and nothing around me have changed – my work is still behind and husband is still an a-hole but those are things I can deal with tomorrow. At least I dealt with myself today.

So at this moment my thinking is that anger may at times be “justified” but the way which we choose to deal with that anger – whether justified or not – is what is important. Once again the Spiritual Laws stand out for me – the one to the effect that we can do whatever we choose to do as long as it does not harm or affect another soul’s path. (my own words and interpretation).
So today I learned that it is possibly not about being in a state of serenity all the time. It is possibly about which actions we choose to take when presented with difficulties to bring us back into that state of serenity without harming another, which is important - which brings us right back to the main Law of "there is only Love". (My personal take on it).

Nite nite, sleep well and thank you for letting me share.
Love and Light
Noels xxx

Re: justifiable anger

Posted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:55 pm
by D'oh
Many Years ago, while reading Easy Riders Magazine, I read the definition of "Humility" "Never act like You have never got it caught in the Cogs and Teeth of your Fly before."

I have found that to carry a Very Deep meaning at times over the years. Yes, we are all just Humans, sucking air, trudging this Road. Why should I jump into another's path, while expecting them not to do the same?

Re: justifiable anger

Posted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 3:37 am
by positrac
This topic is far from refreshing and yet a lot of areas of fault on my part sure do illuminate from my point and also your points. I guess if it were just me I could walk away and not have to engage in some peoples lives.
I joke around a lot to hide some of my real feelings and it keep me light in things and when I do get angry I do get really seeing blood because I am out of control. That doesn't happen often and I am relieved because life has enough challenges and trying to fix stupid is really hard and most of the time doesn't work. My play book I use tells me to meditate and pray when I get up each day and turn it over to HP. Last few days has been interesting and I've got a new week to see how it shakes out.

Stay safe all.