This is the second part of a 4 part series.
Aggression was not something I thought was important. I’ve generally been a passive, non-confrontational person. I certainly would stand up for myself if I felt I was being disrespected, but beyond that I never thought I needed to be aggressive. It just wasn’t on my radar. But, in the first session, I decided that I wanted to explore the idea more.
Aggression is needed for survival and not just for the purposes of self-defense. In the context of self-defense, aggression is a tool you can use to possibly take control of a dangerous situation. If you look intimidating and in turn show no fear to a possible attacker, it may very well be all you need to get away from a would-be attacker. It can help you take control of the situation and keep them from harming you.
But what does aggression do for someone who has been traumatized multiple times and has been dealing with PTSD for a long time? How exactly does self- defense work as a therapeutic tool?
We tend to believe that aggression and anger are negative emotions. But they are not necessarily negative. I believe emotions are just reactions our minds and bodies have to any given situation. What we do with the emotions is the key. I think one of the most difficult things in this context is giving ourselves permission to feel the pain and the resulting trauma that is caused by someone hurting us. Especially if the hurting has been repetitive.
It’s more than okay to be angry at someone for harming you in some way. It’s more than okay to fight back if possible. Or to confront them for what they did to you. It is crucial to go through the process of the more “negative” feelings of hurt, betrayal, and anger. It’s more than okay to feel the aggression towards injustice. Letting yourself feel it is important because you are the one who was hurt. You are the one who carries the pain of what was done to you. Being angry gives you the power to begin to overcome the trauma.
In the first session, at the very beginning, I was extremely anxious and uncertain about what to expect. I was giving myself over to God. He was going to take me through the process in front of me. I was scared more than I think I’ve ever been. My fight or flight was kicking into high gear. I wanted to run. I knew what I was about to do was going to be difficult, to say the least. My sister guided me through punching a pad. She reminded me of when I stood up to my mother at 16 years old. That was when I was aggressive and really needed to be to stop my mother from hurting me anymore.
As I thought about that moment, I began to understand what it meant to feel the aggression about injustice. As the emotions started to flow, I could feel the intensity escalating. There was definitely a good vs. evil, God vs. Satan battle going on in the spiritual realm. The enemy had several footholds in my life that I wasn’t even aware of until I began the process. My sister gave me things to say out loud. This at first was very uncomfortable and a felt a bit silly to me. But then I felt God say, Make it your own.
We took breaks from the punching and exercise several times. I wanted so badly to stop several times as well. But I could feel the urgency to get to a breakthrough so strongly. Steph, of course, encouraged me to keep going and fighting through the process. She knew when I would be at the apex of this long climb. So even though I was exhausted in every way possible, I kept fighting. I just couldn’t let the enemy win.
When I got close to the apex, I had been saying to the enemy, I AM NOT BROKEN. But then, when I followed God to make it my own, it became, YOU CAN’T BREAK ME ANYMORE. There was the righteous anger, the aggression, and the power I needed to start to take back the ground he had stolen from me.
When I felt the power surge through me, I stumbled back and began to cry. Steph and I both knew I had reached the apex. It was a healing moment. It was a moment of triumph. The enemy had been defeated and was on the run. I felt exhausted, exhilirated, and lighter than I had in a long time.
The last thing I had to do was use my collapsible baton and run at Steph screaming loudly and aggressively. It took several tries before I actually scared her. But I did. And it felt incredible. I was no longer afraid to be aggressive when it is time to be so. It is odd to think that aggression can heal you. But in the right context, it definitely can.
Being angry about injustice is never a bad thing. It is one of the few times anger and the resulting aggression can be powerful healing weapons. Don’t be afraid of it. Learn to embrace the unusual and often painful things. You may find yourself being healed in the most unconventional ways.