Are They Mad at Me?

Moving away from romantic relationships, these next couple of chapters strive to discuss the trauma-related thoughts that stem from familial relationships. The question of “are they mad at me?” can be attached to familial or parental relations but may also seep into friendships and romantic endeavors, thus serving as a culmination of the last few posts written. 

I aim to discuss this lingering, anxiety-driven thought that appears in an individual’s mind when they are constantly assuming people are mad at them. Maybe the silence sits differently between them, their footsteps sound harder on the floor, or they close the door louder than before. Naturally, the assumption is made that there is an unspoken anger in the air. 

Personally, I find myself asking this question because growing up, when my parents were mad, they would become reclusive and silent with slight aggressions showing in their routine. In those moments, I knew not to bother them. When discussing trauma that comes from parents, I often like to remind myself that they do not really mean to cause harm. Instead, this was the way they were raised by their parents. It is not an excuse for their behavior, but it is an explanation because generational trauma is a difficult battle to overcome. I recognize the way my parents have changed from how they were raised, and I still see the trauma they project on me because they haven’t healed fully. And now, I can see how this anxiety extends into most aspects of my life, especially with my partner. When he is being a little too quiet, I feel the ever-present need to ask him if he is mad at me or if I did something wrong that made him grow reclusive. 

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The anxious questioning can be linked to a trauma response. As Sam Dylan Finch writes in, “7 Subtle Signs Your Trauma Response Is People-Pleasing” for, people-pleasing is a lesser known trauma response that is often coupled with a fight or flight response. Essentially, when we ask ourselves if someone is mad at us, we make ourselves responsible for what they feel and how they may react to a situation. So, when we pose the question “are they mad at me?” we are trying to control the outcome of a situation because we feel this overbearing responsibility for others’ emotions. We do not know how an individual will react, so we try to manage or please them to result in a better reaction that saves us from confrontation. 

It is moments when these thoughts are running rampant in my mind when I must remind myself that it is just my own anxiety begging these questions. For me, it is easier to go to the person I believe is mad at me and ask them if I have done something wrong, whether it be my parents or my partner. Yet, as stated in the aforementioned articles, reassurance must also come from myself, which will in turn calm some anxiety driven thoughts. 

By: Ashley Geiser 

Ashley Geiser is a Junior studying English with a concentration in Creative Writing at Pace University. She is also the Editor-in-Chief and Co-President for Her Campus at Pace. She loves reading and editing. And when she is not reading or editing, she can be found baking in her kitchen.

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