Fuel on the Fire: Anger by Shanyn Silinski


Anger, rage, fire

I am excited to have guest post blogger Shanyn Silinski from “the Scarred Seeker” contributing to our Anger series while I am taking some time off to vacation in Mexico.  Please share your thoughts and feedback about her take on the subject of Anger.

Darlene Ouimet ~ founder of Emerging from Broken

Fuel on the Fire: Anger by Shanyn Silinski

 You may not guess from reading what I write or from knowing me now but I’ve got anger issues.  I struggle, really struggle with being angry, becoming angry and what to do with that fire I hold in my hands.

 For me there are three kinds of angry and like the real fires I used to fight each can be deadly, scarring and wounding to myself and to others.  What kinds am I referring to?

 Holding fire, throwing fire and hiding fire, holding anger, throwing anger and hiding anger.   Much like their real counterparts, the fire of anger burns sometimes just on the surface and other times deep enough to reach the bone.  Some fires are hot enough to render us down to ash and others barely singe the hair on our arms.

 When I hold on to my anger whether it be old or new anger, it is like holding fire without gloves.  It is hot and it burns.  Burns me, hurts me, causes me to be in pain.  Holding on to my anger doesn’t cause any pain to the one I’m angry at.  It doesn’t even warm them up.  I can be as righteously angry, unfairly angry, grudge holding call it up from the past furious or newly started.

 When I throw my anger, like throwing around Molotov cocktails I cover everyone in flames, burning fuel and I hurt them.  Scarring, burning, scorching and delivering pain I serve my anger as a slave.  I’ve become that which abused me – a controlling person who needs to hurt.  I’m throwing hurt around, anger around, and feeding the flames of myth.  What have I become?  That which hurt me, I’ve become  the person and the people who scarred and scorched me.  How does that honour my healing path?   It doesn’t.

 Hiding anger can be as sneaky and deadly as any fire because you don’t see it coming.  When you are fighting a grass fire you have to watch your back.  Fire can sneak up on you under the grass, under your own feet and when it gets a chance it engulfs you.  Hiding anger, for me, is the one that preceeds the other two.  Hiding anger is like putting fire in your coat pockets and then hanging up the jacket.  The fire smolders, it waits quietly for a breath of air and WHOOMP! 

 Anger, like fire, requires three things to burn us: fuel, ignition source and air (oxygen).  In a real fire each element is separate and independent, in people and in anger they can be all in one person, they can be interchangeable.  That just makes the fire of anger even more deadly, scarring and harmful.

 My personal fuel can be something as simple and complex as unresolved feelings from recent or distant events.  Fires can burn out of control when there is a large fuel load.  When we have a lot of dry, burnable materials stacked up we are just a fire waiting to happen.  Emotionally we also stack up lots of fuel and it’s just waiting for a spark.

 Sparks! Flashes! Steel wool and a battery, matches, BBQ lighters or lightning – sources of ignition.  A quick flash that can cause things to explode or a small spark that starts a slow burn.

 No fire will burn, no anger will burn, without AIR!  Anger, like a fire, needs to breathe, it needs air to keep it burning.  Air is simple, oxygen is simple – we keep talking, we keep shouting, screaming, yelling, hitting and we keep pumping the air into the fire.  We burn hotter and hotter, we burn deeper and deeper. The anger which burns those around us will like a fire consume us as well.

 There is a simple way to extinguish a fire: remove one of the three key elements.  Remove the fuel, the ignition or the air source.  Simply said, very hard to actually do!  What is the best way to stop a fire?   Two ways – controlled burns to reduce fuel load and fire prevention.  Stop fires before they start, have prescribed burns to reduce the fuel load which would create an inferno.  Who is doing your fire control?  How do you do controlled burns?

 Controlled burns are venting, therapy, writing, art and keeping the fuel load from stacking up, keeping the anger from building up.  Keeping the air circulating, controlling the ignition sources (and those can be hard to manage!) and stop stacking up fuel.  We can prevent fires, prevent burning scarring anger from consuming us by preventing those fires, those raging emotional and physical infernos from getting out of control.  Smoke detectors in our homes detect the early signs of fire – smoke.  We can do the same with anger – when we are ready.

 You cannot control your anger until you know it, understand it and can face it.  We can still be angry – anger is a natural response to certain kinds of danger, certain kinds of injustices.  Controlling our anger so it is a vent which safely lets the pressure off.  Finding ways to release that anger can be positive and healing, it can clean our wounds and cauterize the cuts, it can be a warning and it can be a signal. 

 I know I have anger issues – I’ve had them as long as I can remember.  I know I’ve got challenges with my fuel load and I’m a deadly ignition source and I can hear myself sometimes adding air to the fire building it higher and hotter.   But I know my anger now and it doesn’t control me.  I have flare ups, explosions and yeah sometimes I get caught making Molotov cocktails I can recognize that in me, just like I recognized the fires when I wore the turnout gear of a fire fighter.  I’m working really hard to not burn everything down when I’m feeling angry.  It lurks there, though, below the surface.  At least I know it is there and for me that is over half the battle.

Shanyn Silinski

Shanyn Silinski is an outspoken survivor who writes, creates and lives life as fully as she can with her husband, son and the animals on their small ranch in Manitoba.  The author of a number of blogs, a book of poetry with two more in the works, Shanyn also sculpts, scrapbooks and loves having fun with photography. Visit Shanyn’s blog  “the Scarred Seeker”


Related Posts: Emotional Abuse and Anger by Carla Dippel

Related Post: Memoirs of a Mad Survivor by Patty Hite

19 response to "Fuel on the Fire: Anger by Shanyn Silinski"

  1. By: Judy Posted: 15th December

    Thanks so much for that. I’m just now beginning to understand my anger because for years I denied I was ever anger. “Who me, angry? Oh no, everything’s fine” over and over and over. The raging inferno was just beneath the surface. Your piece so beautifully illustrates anger.

  2. By: Shanyn Posted: 11th December

    Krissy – your comments are not only really well said but also thought provoking. I especially related to: “They may get to the point of controlling that anger, but then feel they should be congratulated for achieving that control, when a normal person wouldn’t have felt angry in the first place if denied the opportunity to oppress another.” How true! Thank you for sharing and for being here.

  3. By: Krissy Posted: 10th December

    Elizabeth’s post describes my type of anger. That of being dismissed, devalued, abused, violated. These things SHOULD make a person angry. But that anger can be misdirected and perpetuate the type of abuse that caused that anger in the first place.

    On the other hand, my ex thinks that he had an anger problem that is being controlled. He apologizes for being angry and is sure he will not lose his temper again. What people don’t realize is that abuse doesn’t cause anger – abusers don’t have an anger problem, they have a problem of having an abusive mentality. It is that entitlement to lopsided luxuries that give rise to angry feelings when that expectation is not met. So simply going to anger management courses to control that anger doesn’t get to the root of the problem of having entitled, justified thinking. They may get to the point of controlling that anger, but then feel they should be congratulated for achieving that control, when a normal person wouldn’t have felt angry in the first place if denied the opportunity to oppress another.

    Thank you for that post – I really have a lot of work to do.

  4. By: Shanyn Posted: 9th December

    Clare – I know that ball of fire feeling, always seems to feel better to me when I’ve got it more in control.

    Ginger – you said, “And no one will destroy the person I’ve become….at least not without a fight this time!!!” and I agree with a whole hearted YES! Using the fire to temper us to be stronger is much better than having it burn us to ash.

    Jim – it does make sense to talk about it. I, like you, thought I was the only one holding this burning anger and I felt no one would understand or be able to not judge me if I shared about it. Thanks for your words, and for being here. We are not alone and together we can find a better way!

    Elizabeth – when you said, “Just because YOU feel angry, that doesn’t mean I am the CAUSE;
    Just because YOU feel guilty doesn’t mean I had anything at all to do with your feelings of guilt.
    Just because YOU are paranoid doesn’t mean I am out to ‘get’ you.” I really heard your words and I agree and understand. Thank you so much for sharing here with us.

    Bright blessings all!

  5. By: Elizabeth Posted: 9th December

    Great Post!

    I too have dealt with the anger, pent up from years of emotional abuse both within my family and the church we grew up in.

    I was encouraged by a counsellor to write about it; throw eggs at a tree in my backyard; exercise etc….anything to release the energy in a non harmful way.

    Thing was, the more I wrote about it, the angrier I got. i didn’t want to just throw eggs at the tree I wanted to run the tree through a shredder. lol.

    What helped me so much was recognizing I had YEARS of anger stored, and it would take some time to get through it.I was not nuts; I had been abused and it was a healing process.

    Being finally able to get away from the family dynamics helped as well. My mother died a couple of years ago, and after her death everyone in my family cut ties with me- even before I cut ties with them-I had taken care of mom in her last illness which lasted 6 years.

    Right after the will was read I was no longer of any interest to anyone in the family.

    Yet this was freeing for me. Not being around the weird undercurrent of submerged anger and behind the back gossiping in the family, I began to feel lighter.I was very hurt at first for a long time because
    I felt they no longer loved me. I felt used.

    Well I HAD been used.But the thing is there really WAS no real caring in the family. I was angry at that too.I was hurt.

    Now my anger feels more solid, less reactive.
    I AM angry that I didn’t matter to my family as a real person with feelings. The more counselling I got in the last several years the more I was made out to be some kind of ‘bad guy’ character in my family. Alot of projection apparently went on.

    I am angry that I was the family doormat. But I am not sorry I chose to care for and TRY to watch out for my mom who had had a braun injury and then several years later cancer. The whole scenario was played out in a situation of confusion and NONcommunication in the family. No one would go to counselling but me.

    Oh,my mom did but evidently she told her counsellor I was trying to ‘put her away’ and that I was plotting AGAINST HER and the counsellor apparently believed her and was trying to help her protect herself against something that was not even happening. It was a paranoid delusion in mom’s mind. But not having ever met me the counsellor believed her.

    In an effort to ‘jolly’ mom along, my sister went along with mom’s delusions and sympathized with her regarding my ‘treatment’ of mom, al the while ignoringf my pleas to her to help me get mom back to the neurologist for more testing and to participate in family counselling about this.And my sister refused. Said she did not want to make mom mad.She was afraid mom might cut her out of the will.

    The upshot was that more and more people got told how ‘mean’ I was to mom, my sister jumped on the bandwagon, and told people this as well. her church friends decided I had demons because I was quickly getting depressed over the whole thing…

    Our own church leaders were told by mom that I wanted to take my daughter out of the church, which sparked THEM pulling the ‘mean’ card out. People stopped talking to me. People started saying I was the crazy one.

    I literally went to a counsellor and laid it all out and said, “ok, who is crazy here?”

    A friend at the time described the situation as a ‘black comedy of errors’. Well yes. But there was nothing remotely amusing about it.

    Because of the refusal of anyone in the family to go to family counselling together and lay it ALL out and get some things aired out and straightened out, it got worse and worse.

    I AM angry. I am angry at people who benefitted from labelling me as the ‘crazy’ one. i am angry at my family’s obstructing my efforts to get my mom the medical and effective mental help she needed; I am angry at the total lack of family support for my daughter and I, and I am ANGRY AT BEING THROWN UNDER THE BUS repeatedly by my sister in her dealings with family friends. there was alot of ambient abuse going on by her.

    So now they are gone. My sister and her grown daughter are stranged from me.I guess. Just poof.Gone.Mom is dead.

    I have scraped myself off the pavement in the last 2 years; gone thru times of anger so deep I thought it would burn me up. But it didn’t – I learn to ride the waves.

    Now my daughter is showing more signs of the game playing so rampant in our family- but I am tired of having people trash me as if I belong in a garbage heap. I WAS the family garbage dump. no more. I have let my daughter know she can go to counselling. I will help pay for it.

    But I am not a punching bag anymore.

    I wish I had known how to say the below to my family:

    Just because YOU feel angry, that doesn’t mean I am the CAUSE;
    Just because YOU feel guilty doesn’t mean I had anything at all to do with your feelings of guilt.
    Just because YOU are paranoid doesn’t mean I am out to ‘get’ you.
    Just because YOU are greedy and dishonest doesn’t mean you are allowed to project that on to me and spread rumors and lies in order to make yourselves look good; and me bad.

    I won’t allow myself to be abused anymore.I am done.
    I AM angry but there was no other way for the abuse to stop except this way.

    I feel alone but its freeing also. Sometimes things are THAt bad.
    My anger is one of strength now. its making me stronger. I deserve a LIFE. And the people closest to me apparently decided in some sick way, that I was a small sacrifice to pay to get what they wanted.

    Anger dissapates when it has a way to be discharged.

  6. By: Jim Posted: 9th December

    This article describes exactly my own struggle with anger. I have always tried to understand the anger that burns deep within. I have been around a lot of abusive people where I work, and getting angry sometimes seems to be the only way to stop the abuse when it is directed at me. I have learned something about my own anger this year. When someone who has authority over me is abusive verbally, I began to realize it tapped into my deep anger from the abuse. That anger gives me back control , and allows me to stop the abuser. It is like getting power and control over the abuser that I never had as a child. I have blistered a lot of people with that anger and have realized the damage it can cause. Learning to vent and keep the fuel from stacking like you mentioned has helped me a lot, but sometimes the anger comes quickly and unexpectedly when I allow someone or something to ignite the fuel from an external source. There is always a cost to us or someone else when we use anger to express or communicate our feelings, sometimes good, sometimes bad. Thanks for this article, it helps me put some perspective on my own anger, I will always have that fire deep within me because of the abuse, but time and lessons are teaching me how to manage it .

    I do not know if this makes sense, but it is good to talk, I thought I was the only one that had this bag of rage deep within me from the abuse.


  7. By: Ginger Smith Posted: 8th December

    I can’t thank all of you enough for your positive reinforcement & support….it’s brand new territory for me. When you go through a nightmare, you find out who your true friends are. The new-found support I have now has helped quell the rage, even if it’s only a wee bit. At this point, who am I to gripe??? I am finding out just how useful my anger can be when focused in the proper direction: if my speaking out gives someone else even the tiniest bit of encouragement to do the same, or standing up and saying “NO…this is wrong! You can’t treat me that way…I won’t have it!”, then maybe something good can come of all this mess. I rant. I rave. I get royally pissed off! And, you know what? I don’t feel guilty about it…not anymore. As far as the hate is concerned, I know I’ll always hate that monster for what he has put me through. He killed a part of me that night that I can never revive. There is no reason good enough for what he did, no explaination good enough, never will be. The person I was back then is no more. But the one that’s replaced her is the Dragon Lady.He wraps me in his wings, gives me the courage & strength to go on….and all my old anger that I had turned on myself has become his fire. And no one will destroy the person I’ve become….at least not without a fight this time!!!

  8. By: clare Posted: 8th December

    I love it I can so relate on so many levels I use fire to explain how I feel at times. I feel like a ball of fire some days I wish I did not but i am aware where it has come from just dont want it to take over me like it has before. I feel I am in a place that I can express my fiery anger safely and it does not control me any more. Thanks for sharing.

  9. By: Shanyn Posted: 8th December

    Michelle – thanks for coming by and for your comments. Throwing your anger back at the source sounds like a good strategy. Yes, I agree sometimes fire can clean a lot of waste and debris from our minds and lives.

    Sometimes, even after a ‘controlled burn’ I feel tired but in a good way like I’ve cleaned the whole psychic house and raked my emotional yard. It allows me to forgive while never forgetting that there is a genuine and valid root for some of the anger I feel.

  10. By: michelle Posted: 7th December

    love the way you used fire to illustrate all the aspects of anger.
    ‘Holding on to my anger doesn’t cause any pain to the one I’m angry at. It doesn’t even warm them up.’

    and thats why i throw the ‘anger’ back at its original source. they started the fire, thankfully i am learning how to put it out. however a fire consumes waste, so when it needs to burn, i let it burn.

  11. By: Susan Posted: 7th December

    I really am relating to the comments here this evening….

    @Maribeth…what you describe reminds me so much of my own experiences with anger and how I began to identify and connect that my anger is/was at its most abrupt and intense when I was in a situation in which I felt powerless. So of course, when I was able to take care of whatever the problem was I no longer felt powerless – or angry. The expression of anger to me is like the lifting of the lid off the tea pot…once I’ve let some of the anger escape, I feel so much better.

    @Ginger – I think very often anger and hate go side by side as my anger can seem like its attached to someone else…or myself. I lived in both deep hatred at those who had abused me as well as a deep self hatred for a long time. It was in going through this healing process where I was finally able to see my anger as something that could become the fuel for directing my life and my passion to share the hope that healing is so possible and within reach. I think the whole “forgive and forget” thing is just so misused against us who have this justifiable and righteous anger at what we have survived. Congratulations on knowing that your anger can serve you today:)

    @Fi Boy – do I understand ‘ambused” in relation to anger. And like you it very often is the thoughts and memories that can trigger it and fan the flames…and like you – I found that ignoring it really wasn’t helpful to me. Anger does simmer and burst into flames when we least expect it if we take that approach. The thing that I found so helpful was to view my anger as an energy that if I would express it some way would not be so damaging…like Shanyn talks about in doing those “controlled burns”. Sometimes I’ll even do some sort of physical expression like throwing a (soft) ball really hard into a corner or at a door (where I’m sure to not get the rebound!). I found that by releasing some of that steam physically I was less likely to burn myself or anyone else in the process. I’m really grateful you share your story…and your strength, Fi.

  12. By: Shanyn Posted: 7th December

    Susan – so nice to meet you too! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and reading the post. Looking forward to your thoughts after you read it again.

    Maribeth – I so can relate to that sort of situation. Not being heard, even in a most physical and public way like that, can really trigger anger. But I saw how you used your anger to be heard and that is important. Too many people get mad after the fact when nothing can be changed. I think you could be on to something with pain and anger having a relationship. There is an emotional and a physical release when we let anger go. I suppose then there would be an equal amount of stress and pain when we hold it in or let it smolder. Some great food for thought there!

    Ginger – I love the dragon analogy! Sounds to me like you and the Dragon are starting to get to know each other, and learning how to ride a dragon is a great way not to get burned by its flame. I don’t think you are a bad person, you are where you are. Forgiveness, which has been discussed here quite often, does not have to be coupled with forgetting. And we get there when we are ready, not when someone else says we should be or when they want us to be.

    Fi – being ambushed by anger has been frequent for me lately too. I’m still learning, to borrow from Ginger, train my dragon. Sometimes when I’m in mid explosion I see my husband’s face and he has NO IDEA why we went from a discussion to a full blown four alarm fire! And I’m too angry to even be coherent…then I feel terrible. I’m working on meeting the reasons and dealing with my ‘fuel load’ and I’m praying for us all as we work on that. Together we are stronger, and together we can learn, share, grow and heal.

    Thanks for your comments and for stopping by. Bright blessings.

  13. By: Fi MacLeod exNicholson Posted: 7th December

    Having just been ambushed by anger over the last couple of days I can really relate to this post. I’ve always been aware of the anger simmering away underneath but thought it was under control. How wrong I was. Memories and the most banal triggers acted like an accelerant and caused that little simmering fire to burst into one enormous blaze. I can’t ignore it anymore or hope it’ll just simmer away again and not cause any problems. I realise I have to address it and I realise to do that I have to aim at the roots of the fire. And yes it’s going to be very hard to do that.

  14. By: Ginger Smith Posted: 7th December

    My anger is like a second shadow, my constant companion. Some days it stays quiet, almost dormant. Other times it’s what I call “The Dragon is Loose”. Oh there are triggers alright…unavoidable at times, unexpected at others. It brings with it a “side kick”….hate. I’ve hated myself, certain other people, life in general. It’s something I hadn’t felt in a long while, not this intense. Have I reason to feel this way? YES! But I can not let either of these emotions control me…I have to be the one holding the reins. My anger has it’s uses, now & then. I know it helped me survive a horrible nightmare when I know damn well I shouldn’t have. It has made me battle on, Never Surrender, as I often say. It has given me strength & courage to speak up & speak out, new territory for me. I hope I can put it to good use & perhaps help someone else who may also be in their own nightmare. Please, PLEASE don’t ask me to “Forgive & Forget”. I don’t. Never have, never will. Some things are NOT forgivable & certain ones NEVER deserve it. If that makes me a bad person, so be it. But I would never do to someone else what was done to me. And that old Dragon? He’ll always be with me, watching, warning & maybe make an appearance once in while….when he’s really needed. The anger, although still ever present, has a purpose now: to help, not harm. Maybe I’ll make that old Dragon of mine proud of me. Someday.

  15. By: Maribeth Posted: 7th December

    Well done Shanyn- appreciated your thoughtfulness and well written metaphors.
    I now understand why the melt down I had at a restaurant on our anniversary left me feeling really at peace for the next few days.

    We had a reservation in a specific quieter area and told them about my wheelchair and they put us next to 20 LOUD drunk guys in another area where it was so loud I couldn’t even hear the waitress. I forced them to figure out how to get me to my reserved table which was sitting there empty because someone else with a wheelchair was blocking the path to it- I just lost it- told them how furious I was, that it was our anniversary, that we come there always to celebrate and the only way I could even hear the manager or be heard was to shout!- In the end they got people to move for a couple of minutes so I could get past and the rest was great- I felt so bad for the meltdown but they gave us free drinks and desert so later I realized they didn’t think I was a jerk for getting angry.

    Actually with that peace came an ability to work through some other things that were triggering uproars here-

    Now it makes sense- I guess being able to express the anger at the source validated my feelings and perhaps also ‘burned up’ other anger that had been smoldering underneath?

    I wonder how much of my pain is linked to anger.

    hugs 2 ya Shanyn,

  16. By: Susan Posted: 7th December

    Shanyn – nice to meet you and oh my gosh! This is a GREAT post! I am going to go back and read it again but I had to let you know that I really like the way you compare our anger to that of fire…and the similarities in how we can fan the fire or learn to do a controlled burn…this is just great stuff thank you for sharing it!

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