When Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Francis came to me with a "joker's smile" on his face. He cracked a lot of jokes during our sessions together. His wife had an affair and ran away from home with their kids. Francis' anger came out when his mother visited the house the next day. He cursed his mother during her visit and damaged physical property.

Francis' smiling joker's face during therapy sessions was his mask for deep anger. He was initially unable to freely express his anger in the beginnings of our therapy work because he had an "image" to maintain: a calm, relaxed husband who don't get angry at his wife. His face would look innocent and guiltless, and he would not admit yet that he was feeling so angry. 

Over enough time, Francis learned to let go and express his anger in healthy fashion. Tears began to flow profusely. Smoke finally got into his eyes! Therapy provided him the permission to feel angry, offered him ways to express it positively and constructively. His tears and outbursts during our sessions smoldered for a time amid the "forest fires" in his life at that point. And it was better that he took time to let the anger burn out that set him free eventually.

Expressing anger constructively is healing. Anger left unexpressed and uncontrolled will grow like a volcano. Until it erupts. It's essential that one gets through this anger trail of the recovery process in healthy ways - without destroying people and environment or destroying one's self.