When you go through a divorce with an abusive spouse or Narcissist, there are a lot of things they will do that are unfair and unjust. They will lie, berate, manipulate, demand, create chaos and confusion, and tell others that you are the crazy, mean one. It’s just what they do…because they are Narcissists. Of course, I’m NOT saying it’s right – I believe it’s absolutely wrong. None of that is good, true, just, or fair. None if it goes along with the Christian principles that you may have been trying so hard to hold on to. Your spouse or Xspouse mistreats you because they are a narcissist, pure and simple, and they do not care about you or your response. No matter what you say or do.
I got really angry at the injustice and unfairness of it all. And sometimes I didn’t know what to do with that anger.
I didn’t want to walk around an “angry person”. I also was unwilling to shove the anger down and pretend everything was perfect. As a woman, I wan’t fully comfortable showing my anger for fear of appearing to be a “bitch”. But if and when I did finally show my rage, my XNarc used my anger against me to prove what an irrational person I was. And he also used Scriptures as a bully stick to point out how terrible and un-submissive I was. So WHAT does one do with all that?!?!
I’m learning that the first step is to be angry. I’m acknowledging and accepting my anger as a God-given emotion in response to injustice, without denying or burying my anger. Next, I’m finding healthy ways to deal with my anger, like exercise, boxing, journaling, or cussing up a storm in private or with a safe friend. We jokingly call it “the cussing stage of grief”. I’m also dealing with the anger quickly, and not letting it fester or turn into resentment. Finally, I’m turning to God, whom I believe is the Author of My Story, and spending time with him, and letting Him know that I’m frankly angry at Him for writing this crummy story and allowing the abuse. Then I’m listening to what He has to say.
Anger is not something to repress or be ashamed of, as that can cause serious health problems. I’ve also discovered in this process that sometimes my anger can be quite constructive and protective, like when a boundary is being violated and my anger is warning me that something is very wrong. Other times it can be motivating, causing me to take action when I might otherwise be too fearful or cautious. For that, I’m grateful for my anger.
This excerpt on managing your rage by Lundy Bancroft was helpful to me. It validated that anger/rage is normal, in fact, healthy, for what we are going through. It shares some ideas for how to process the anger. And then Bancroft encourages us to make some changes. Instead of staying stuck in a situation where we continue to be a victim, he tells us to think through what changes we can make.
Managing Your Own Rage
“Injustice is infuriating. If you feel enraged a lot of the time, you are having a normal reaction to how unfair and mean your partner’s behavior is. In fact, feeling angry in the face of mistreatment is a healthy reaction; it proves that you have self-respect still surviving inside of you. When an abused woman stops feeling angry, that’s when I start to really worry for her.
But feeling enraged is uncomfortable, and it can take a toll on you over time. It’s important to find ways to manage and channel your anger so that it doesn’t eat you up inside.
Begin by accepting your rage. Our society puts out a lot of sexist messages that say that women shouldn’t be angry, and that if they show anger then they’re bitches. Don’t let yourself be ruled by those false beliefs.
Find people other than him you can talk to about how angry you are. Every time you take your anger to him you’ll end up even angrier than you were before, because he turns your anger back on you and hurts you with it. Take it elsewhere.
Use physical activity to help your anger move through you. Running and other forms of exercise – dancing, Zumba classes, or even a vigorous walk – can help you keep anger from getting bottled up. If you have a place to be alone, then you can release your anger through yelling, punching pillows, or throwing clothing around the room. Vigorous, angry movement frees anger.
Write your angry thoughts and feelings in a journal. Getting rage down into words has been found to be one of the most successful ways for a woman to keep herself emotionally healthy.
And finally, take action. If you are angry over and over again, that’s a sign that it’s time to make changes in your life. Spend some time reflecting on what those changes might be, and then start moving toward bringing them about.
“My anger is a healthy emotion, and I can learn to handle it in healthy ways.”
by Lundy Bancroft, from Daily Wisdom for Why Does He Do That? p. 88-89.
I hope you find freedom in first accepting, and then working through your anger. Remember, this is a journey. And it is a huge challenge. Be kind to yourself. Breathe. Ask God to show you the upside-down blessing of this all.
Love and blessings,