I recall a friend of mine whose mother was known to hold a lot of anger, none of which was ever expressed directly. Instead, her anger would be indirectly expressed in the form of sneak-attacks.
This woman’s husband had died some years after her daughter was born. The daughter’s features resembled her father. We used to wonder if this resemblance was the reason why the daughter was subject to the sneak-rage attacks from her mother.
One evening the daughter, who I will call Beverly, had taken a lot of time and trouble to dress up for an evening out with a group of family and friends. When she came down, those of us in the party who were waiting for her and others to arrive commented on how lovely she looked. The comments clearly pleased her. The mother, sitting nearby in an armchair decided to offer her unasked for opinion: “Well in my opinion, what you have chosen to wear makes you look completely dull,” she said.
We, as friends, were used to seeing Beverly’s descent into hurt and disappointment whenever she was on the receiving end of these unexpected sneak-attacks, which occurred whenever the mother’s unresolved rage – probably due to her past loss of her husband – leaked out onto her daughter.
You have suffered rage leakage when someone says something to you or about you that was without justification. Gossiping about someone to others in derogatory ways is another example of this.
Rage is rarely direct. Rage will seek out ways to indirectly express itself. Even when someone is raging towards another it is not a direct expression of anger.
Rage is invariably the composite expression of past unresolved anger that emerges in the direction of another person, event, or situation.
Rage is a pack animal. Just as dogs and wolves like to hunt in packs, rage enjoys a pack hunt, which is why rage thrives on gossip. Having others to whom rage can confide its “justified” discontent, where others can hear out rage and nod their heads in “justified” agreement and contribute their own rage, is a forum rage particularly values.
Any forum consciously or unconsciously designed for less directed forms of rage expression qualifies as passive-aggressive rage:
Making excessive noise, where the noise is indirectly meant to annoy or hurt another, such as the slamming of doors or the playing of loud music with the intent to annoy.
Refusing to participate in something or with someone, knowing within this refusal will be hurtful to them.
Not turning up for dates or pre-arranged appointments on time.
These are all examples of passive-aggressive rage.
In my teenage years when I used to secretly smoke cigarettes, I did everything I could to avoid being found-out. But looking back, I can see there was another part of me who wanted my parents to catch me smoking. I wanted them to be hurt and shocked by their son’s errant behaviour. I wanted to get them back.
There is always an underlying sense of revenge beneath rage, although the person behind such behaviours will rarely admit to the desire for revenge. It is rare to find someone who indulges in rage behaviours to admit to even having any rage at all.
People who are rageful, meaning they are prone to acts of rage whether actively so or passively-aggressive, will rarely recognize they carry rage. It is considered a breakthrough when they admit to having rage. When someone is willing to admit and therefore own their rage they have taken the preliminary steps to recognizing the revenge quality that is behind all acts of rage leakage.
Finally, rage is like an entity unto itself. Once rage has a footing in the emotional system it becomes a life unto its own making.
Every life form wants to survive and to propagate. As a non-organic life form, rage is no different. Rage will seek out conditions to live and to grow.
Rage will steer someone to the “right” relationship, the one that will justify its outbursts, the ones where there is enough of a victim on the part of the partner not to want to desert the enraged person, the ones that have enough discontent and justification to nurture a dose of rage from time to time.
Rage will obsessively watch the news programs or television broadcasts that provide him with the material or the excuses to vent his rage on certain personalities or political leaders.
Rage may make sure life never works out the way you want it to, so that rage always has something to gripe about.
It is as if rage were a shareholder in your life who owns a certain percentage of your life’s investment; it will always have an influence on the direction you take life so that its needs can be met, so it will continue to live and prosper.
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