Hostile and aggressive.”a bull-necked, belligerent old man”
He (or she) doesn’t have to be old though. Or Green. Or Lou Ferrigno.
It can be anyone who verbally attacks us. Those of us who love a person with a substance use problem, know all too well the turmoil and drama of an angry, frustrated person.
If you’ve ever been the recipient of anger AND you are over 40, you will understand this meme.
The Incredible Hulk
Chris Snoe on Quora, explained the Hulk’s anger like this:
“Essentially the state of rage the Hulk requires at first initializes his transformation. But as he’s in combat or a situation of sorts rather than thinking of ‘anger’ as a quantity think of it as a psychological by-product.
So to dumb it down Hulk MAD!! Anger is turned on and the engine is running.
So the limit to a beings/persons/creatures rage are in fact the ‘reasons’ they are angry… The causes of your emotional turmoil or pain. Think of these reasons as multipliers magnifying the Hulks anger. So consider his power is constantly produced naturally but these sparks or rage simply ramp up the speed in which this energy is produced.
So again he’s angry -the engines on Hulks ready to fight
- someone shot Banner x2 multiplier
- monster punched hulk ×1.5
- army blew up hulk with missiles that hurt! x3
- monster wont DIE and keeps punching back! x4
“As you can see these reasons keep adding up even if they’re minor annoyances they keep adding up. And Hulks anger grows as long as these reasons remain and the more of them there are the more quickly his rage grows
It’s like playing a video game. All the little things that go wrong aren’t so bad but as more happen slowly but surely you rage out at the game and you either walk away or throw your controller through a wall. Your choice, no judgment.
But think Hulk can’t just walk away. He has only one way to go, “Punch it until its gone.” And most of those things that cause Hulk to rage out don’t go away easily and the mere tact that “IT JUST WONT DIE!!” is anger inducing.
Hulk doesnt have the luxury of walking away and practicing mindul breathing. He must deal with it.”Quora– in answer to the question “Does the Incredible Hulk get stronger with more anger?”
We can think The Incredible Hulk’s reasons for getting angry are silly, just as the addicts reasons seem ridiculous; but they are still stressors & traumas inflicted on a ‘human’ causing an emotion resulting in anger.
We all get frustrated of course. Usually it’s temporary and we can re-set ourselves fairly quickly.
Have you ever been in a hurry, stressed out to get somewhere, or hungry and tired, like when trying to catch a plane? Out of the blue, someone tries to get you to stop and care about something such as signing a petition and you say “no thank you” and hurry away. They follow you and plead with you telling you how good it would be for the environment, and how you. REALLY. SHOULD. CARE. and that it will only take a minute.
But you just CAN’T CARE because your soo thirsty and tired and nauseated yet sooo hungry! They persist until finally, you snap at them and tell them to leave you the hell alone!
Now imagine being like that 24 /7 while you search out your “water” just to feel better for a minute, and that search becomes your life day after day, same habits, the same people.
That’s how powerful these drugs are on the brain.
N.o.t.h.i.n.g. else matters. Anything that gets in the way of this intense drive, is argued with, lied to, manipulated, pushed aside- sometimes literally.
When our addicted loved ones get feisty and sometimes belligerent with us, we are deeply hurt and feel it’s unjustified.
We, with our mostly healthy brains just can’t imagine it, because we’ve learned to self-regulate and we’ve learned to balance our lives between stress and healthy coping skills as I listed in this article.
Lorelie Rozzano stated in this Facebook post:
“So why do people struggling with addiction have such a difficult time with emotional pain? One theory is that addiction is genetic. Although it can skip a generation, it runs in families the same way blue eyes do. This is why it’s called an ‘environmental’ (meaning home) illness. When you grow up in an addicted home, you learn to walk on eggshells and stuff your feelings (expressing feelings in addicted families can create division and hostility). Keeping the peace means avoiding confrontation, resulting in emotional immaturity. Although your physical body ages, you feel like a child on the inside and may struggle with feelings of inferiority. When you lack self-worth, you don’t ask for what you want or need. Instead, you suffer in silence or resentment. To compensate, you look to people/places and things to bridge the gap. The first time you get high or rescue someone who does, you fall in love with the feeling. No more pain. No more anxiety. No more inferiority. Getting high and enabling are Band-Aids for emotional distress. Although they numb the sting temporarily, they create deeper wounds. So the cycle begins. Pain, numb, pain, numb… soon, your disordered brain is looking for things to feel pain over, to reward its pleasure circuit. It tricks you by telling you there’s hurt where there is none”.
One thing they don’t learn to cover up is anger. ANY frustration, perceived pain, loss, problem-too-big-to-fix, or even reminders of their life “before drugs” can set them off on a tangent of rage.
It’s their coping skill until they can numb it. And ANYTHING getting between them and the source to numb it, is going to be a casualty. As Brandon Novak started in his video:
“It’s not personal, it’s just business.“
How to protect yourself from their rage?
You are not their counselor or mentor or even their parole officer. Your job is to LOVE with boundaries and show what (& how) normal healthy people face challenges. That means not stooping to their level of anger with screeching or rude comments attacking their character.
The following list isn’t specifically geared toward addiction but it is a general overview of boundaries.
With our loved ones in addiction it’s easy to say “If Only they would get better”, then surely all of our problems would be solved. No more anger, fear, rollercoaster emotions etc. But we all know that’s not true. Problems, emotions, tough situations come and go- addiction or not. The best way to combat them is to get ourselves stronger in order to facilitate a better reaction from us when someone pushes our buttons.
With addicted loved ones it’s easy to offer the advice to stay in your lane in regards to telling them how to live their life. That’s often difficult when we see a complete shizzshow unfolding before us.
A more realistic approach, is to stay in our lane but with compassion to their struggles. Having compassion to their frustrations yet holding the line with our boundaries is a delicate balance. It is heartbreaking to see them “go without” when we have so much, but by “giving them what they need” we are robbing them the dignity- if you can call it that- of experiencing pain & discomfort in order to motivate change.
We have to be their hope. Not their enemy. Instead of being drawn into their anger and pain, we can hold the space for them to bridge the gap between their chaotic life and and a life of joy and without substances.
I understand that’s the theory behind “rock bottom” but to most addicts, rock bottom is death, because they become so acclimated to living that life. The suffering and scavenging becomes their identity in order to feed their disease.
The list below can help you start deciding your boundaries and expectations. And remember, keep expectations LOW. It’s un -realistic to ask a person with a hijacked brain to suddenly become responsible and honest when their choices and actions have been completely opposite of that for months or even years.
Most of all, treat them like a human, with respect.
When they are in their anger, say calmly:
“I understand you have unresolved emotions that you are in the midst of, so I’m going to back away and give you space so that I’m not the target of your experience”.
This shows them respect and acknowledgement for what they’re going through but keeps the door open for future conversation and healing.
And that’s what we all want…. Connection. Healing connection.