Anger has always been the most difficult, and most rewarding emotion to uncover within the process of healing.

 Taken in L.A., 1986

Taken in L.A., 1986

Anger has always been the most difficult, and most rewarding emotion to uncover within the process of healing. In the moment of abuse in childhood, the first time, my natural reaction was one of indignant anger. In teaching in prisons, I like to mention anger a lot because it is a natural reaction to injustice, and yet when it is expressed to the abuser, it reflects their action back to them, and they will resort to intimidation so as not to be confronted with themselves. The prison system perpetuates the anger cycle. In my childhood, I was graphically threatened with death, and understood my anger and free expression would lead to death, and my silence and submission would keep me alive. The repression of anger led to all mental imbalances I struggled with for much of my adult life. After my mental health was restored, I continued to deal on subtler levels with repressed anger. I'm just getting in touch with how specifically I placated a certain type of man, who because of their wealth or status, reminded me of one perpetrator who had a great emotional impact.

I would tune in and would feel the high of the privilege he felt all the time, cut off from the full spectrum of emotions and only accessing a sense of artful beauty and lightness, floating on a cloud above the world. But I didn't want that, and these connections were at odds with everything I am and stand for, and even though I would have these superficial connections, my fear and anger for this one man kept me distant from all people with wealth and power. It took many years to become aware that I was dealing with an addiction. Under such a man's gaze, I would physically transform and look more beautiful, effortlessly playing the part of the sophisticated woman. Then I would fight that image, and reject that person, maybe breaking the spell by making myself unattractive in some way.

However, because of the elegant persona I always passed for someone who is not traumatized. I looked like an old money trophy wife, comfortable in understated, elegant surroundings, and on spectacular private land with carriage roads, ponds, and boathouses. This privilege helped me in my survival - from being approved for apartments without proof of financials, to getting jobs without qualifications and more. Once I finally had the courage to go deeper, I quickly got in touch with the details of the man who inspired all of this, who whisked me away and showed me his land when I was nine years old, assuring me I belonged with him, with his family, in his class of people. I had been so in need of the affection and the positive reflections he gave me, that the horrific conditions in which we met were split from my consciousness, as well as the rapes.

The aura of sophistication helped me tremendously in life, but it is no longer useful. I'm experiencing the anger now, as I let myself feel just how old this man was, how comfortable he was with getting infatuated with a child, and how much he lied to me, knowing that his failure to make good on his promises would mean I would remain a child sex slave in a murderous network, and would likely die there. I'm angry to be made to feel I was part of his family when I was only part of his dark side. I have been furious, and in letting go of that lifelong anger, I notice changes. For example: As I'm not seeking comfort in the external beauty of things anymore, I can see colors more brightly, and suddenly everything is more beautiful! Also, I found myself being perfectly frank with an older man who was patronizing, taking the conversation further than I previously would have, because in my fear I would have not wanted to rock the boat. Small things, but I notice them with joy in my heart, because the information about this abuse is integrating, my anger is reversed and placed where it belongs, and I am becoming free.

M Becker