Monday Mitzvahs: Perhaps Self-control is the Greatest Act of Kindness

This post would be easier to write if my hands were duck-taped behind my back. I mean my vision for Monday Mitzvah posts is that they will be light and fun, but meaningful.  Yet it’s time to write another one and I am in no mood for light and fun.  The truth is I want to hit something.  Why must Monday come every week anyway?

Why am I so angry? Well, one of the problems of having DID, at least for me, is that it feels like I have someone else inside my head.  And right now that other person is very, very angry. I’m not certain of all the details, though I could guess.  So I am seething inside, and I don’t really know why.

Anger is such a misunderstood emotion that I feel compelled to stop and explore it for a moment…make sure we are on the same page, you know?  I will use pit bulls to help illustrate my point.

PItbull Face by gvaragas23 CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 deviantART
PItbull Face by gvaragas23 CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 deviantART

Anger and pit bulls have a lot in common.  Pit bull lovers are crying foul right now, but bear with me.  I know pit bulls are not the scary monsters they have been made out to be.  And that is my point.  Anger is also not the evil-villain-emotion it has been made out to be either.

Do pit bulls have a potential to be dangerous?  Yes.  Can anger have harmful results? Yes.  Absolutely on both accounts.  There is a reason that pit bulls and anger have the reputation they do.  And yet pit bulls can be very loving companions, good with children and other pets.  It all has to do with training and socialization.  It is the same with anger.

Anger can be a good thing.  It can move us to take action, to right wrongs, to be heroic even.  If you see someone being bullied and you step in to defend them, anger is a huge motivation behind that action.  Is it a bad thing that we, as a nation, are angry at the men that placed that bomb at the Boston Marathon?  No. Of course, we are angry!  Sometimes anger is the appropriate response.

At this point, I think some people might say, “Yes, Leslie, but you are angry about something that happened a long time ago.  You need to let it go.”

That advice is based on misunderstandings.  The first being that I am intentionally holding on to the anger.  I’m not.  And the second misunderstanding is the belief that I have been aware of the anger all this time.  I haven’t.

My anger has been dissociated. I believe that God gave children the ability to dissociate from trauma to protect them from worse outcomes (insanity or suicide).  My mind put those memories away–not forgotten, but hidden–until such a time that I would be strong enough to deal with them.  Apparently that time is now.

Niya and Betsy by Amber/ambiebambie39507  CC BY-NC-SA 2.0  Flickr
Niya and Betsy by Amber/ambiebambie39507 CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Flickr

These feelings of anger (and other emotions and memories) are old, very old and yet new. I am trying to work through them as quickly as I can.  Working through them means processing them without harming other people in the process.  It is very important to me that I don’t take out my anger on the people that I love.

This delicate balance of feeling and processing the burning rage inside,without allowing it to overflow and splash onto my family, makes me feel  like a circus fire-eater.  Great amounts of skill and danger involved here, not to mention self-restraint and self-control.

Perhaps finding that balance, and using self-control is the greatest act of kindness.


  1. Perfectly done. Excellent understanding and presentation. This type of exposure to hurt is like navigating a mine field where the mines are guaranteed to explode regardless of our best efforts to avoid them or to prevent damage.

  2. Leslie,
    There is nothing worse for me than feeling that anger, no its rage, that I fear is going to make it so I am out of control. The intensity of it is not relative to the situation I am in, but i feel almost powerless to stop it, like it is a force all its own
    So i beat myself up over having it. But I cant stop it.
    Oh my goodness!
    Great piece

    • Yes! I know just what you mean about the intensity not being relative to the situation. I hate the looks I get–I know people think I am over-reacting, and I know I am, but I can’t stop the train as it barrels down on me. Thanks!

  3. I agree with both previous comments; this is such a perfectly written post. Well said, Leslie.

    I think that when people say things like “let it go”, and are speaking from the perspective of a non-DID’er, it is really difficult to explain that this anger from such a long time ago is in fact a brand new anger, not one that has been sitting there, fizzing away since that anger-inducing experience happened. As an adult, feeling and then expressing the anger that wasn’t able to be felt or expressed all those years ago is something that is monumentally difficult.
    I don’t know how much sense I’ve made here, but wanted to let you know how much I can relate to this post.

  4. The older I get, the more I realize how valid of an emotion anger is. I think it’s so important to feel angry about certain things, and then to be in touch with yourself enough to when you are able to let it go, then to do it. You taught me about “time stamps” and how with some things there are no time stamps or expiration dates, I use those expressions all the time now!

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