PTSD wants to wound us and render us feral. It wants us to despair in our wounds: physical, mental, and spiritual. It wants us to never realize we are on a sanctification journey, that we can still receive divine grace. PTSD wants us angry and letting lose with our anger. Having wounded others or maybe just belittling ourselves, it wants us to believe we can never be forgiven.
Even Righteous Indignation Will Fail Us
Even if our anger is classified as “righteous indignation” we are only further wounded if we let it control us. Few of us qualify to actually have righteous indignation (no matter how we may try to fool ourselves – and others – about it).
Jesus, cleansing the Temple (See John 2), had righteous anger, but at the same time he did not call in his disciples to personally commit violence themselves. That story does not endorse Christian violence. Indeed, it demonstrates Jesus does not call Christians to commit violence, even in cases of righteous indignation.
But, Sometimes We Still Lash Out
Regardless, we still sometimes do regrettable things in our anger, righteous or otherwise.
- We do know our PTSD seeks to amplify our anger.
- When angry we do not see clearly and are more likely to make mistakes.
- When controlled by anger, we’re more likely to harm our most vital relationships.
- PTSD Loves That!
Can We Recover From Anger Mistakes?
We are indeed wounded and there have always been times we should have reeled in our temper. It applies to me and I dare say it probably applies to you. For better or worse anger is part of what makes us human and also describes a portion of the human condition.
What can we learn after realizing we did something stupid in anger?
We can learn a bit more about our divine aspect … really!
The realization that we should not have allowed our anger and our woundedness to take charge of us is a big step towards healing. It takes maturity to discover that. It takes a larger dose of maturity to admit it.
More than just a step towards healing, this realization is part of our sanctification journey. We manifest, discover our own eternal divinity – or at least its real potential – when we arrive at such a realization. It is part of our ongoing spiritual maturity.
Even the saints and mystics, in their mortal lives, constantly strove to further sanctification, to become more authentic, more filled with grace. They knew they could always strive to be ever more Christ-like, to be more perfect as their father in heaven is perfect. They knew we can learn and get better.
True, we beat ourselves up a bit when we realize that we should have somehow kept our temper in check. At the same time it is part of our growth in becoming more aware of our real, authentic worth. This is an authentic worth that PTSD does not want us to know about and when we ever get a glimmer of it, it brings up temptations, triggers, obstacles, vampires, you name it. It does this to try and keep us down and feeling like we are crap.
When we discover our self-worth, our connection to the divine, we are not surprised when PTSD throws-up more booze, drugs, porn, anger, and vampires at us.
Why? To keep us bogged down in suffering and isolation and despair.
PTSD does not want you to ever realize your real value and your real beauty.
Possibility of Forgiveness?
We can find ourselves embarrassed by our angry outbursts and relationship-killing PTSD behaviors. It is not unusual to wonder if we can forgive ourselves, if we can ever go back to being in healthy relationships.
Struggling with the question of forgiveness is another one of those areas, which while frustrating, is very normal to go through. Without any PTSD in the picture, human beings have asked this question and wrestled with it for quite some time. When PTSD is added into the mix, and amplifies this into an anxiety, it is yet another way it tries to destroy us and remove us from any hope. In so doing, it uses this honest question to try and crush us underfoot with discouragement.
If PTSD convinces us we are unforgivable, then we are more likely to give up and do even worse things. PTSD Loves That!
PTSD says we are unforgivable, unredeemable, and even unworthy of any consideration at all. If it can get us to believe this, then it is easier to kill us.
Alas, and fortunately, we have the image and likeness of God built in to us (Genesis 1:26). When everything seems like too much, that image and likeness of God, that divine Imago Dei, can be part of what gives us hope and endurance to manage yet another day and not give PTSD the satisfaction of tricking us into self-harm and isolation.
Forgiveness is always possible. It is a journey and rarely something we can just flip on like a light switch. As in so many things that are worthwhile, forgiveness is a journey.
As we discover remorse at our angry actions we need not despair. We need not give in to the PTSD that wants to cripple us so substantially as to not even know who we are anymore or what it is we value as most authentic.
In our ultimate, most fundamental level of creation, we are made in the image and likeness of God. We are inherently worthwhile. We inherently have value.
If we wonder about remorse, or wonder if we can ever be redeemed or healthy again, then that is part of the image and likeness of God. Some may say it is our conscious or the voice of God. Either way, it is telling us we still have hope and that the next action we consider, the next step we take, is one of our own choosing.
You have value.
Semper Pax, Dr. Z