Anger seemed to be a constant topic of discussion in my marriage and divorce with The Narcissist, and I wanted to break it down a bit into the big categories of Anger throughout my time with The Narcissist and my healing process post-divorce:
- His Anger – he came back from a deployment and for a period of time absolutely everything made him angry. He would explode with rage at me over the littlest things. I vividly remember a full blown attack that started because I was cleaning the counter with a sponge. He went on and on about how I was someone who was okay with settling, just taking things from my past and never trying to improve, how I was putting us at risk with my unhealthy and uncleanly habits…. on and on and on. (From that point on I never bought another sponge… I used Lysol wipes to clean the counters and soapy paper towels to wash the dishes.) I lived a life where I was walking on glass at all times and when I wasn’t perfect, and he did get angry… he got violent. He always had a reason why I caused his anger… he would warp his words around in circles so that he wasn’t blaming me…. but he was sure as heck blaming me. I felt sad that I was making someone I loved hurt so much that he wanted to hurt me. I felt like I was the problem.
- My Anger?– When he was at his angriest, he asked me to read the book: Anger: Handling a Powerful Emotion in an Healthy Way by Gary Chapman (Which for the record is a good read.) He started to convince me that my reactions to his angry outbursts were a sign that I was angry. Over time this morphed to if I showed absolutely any sign of frustration with anything…. I was angry. I had uncontrollable anger issues… my anger was hurting our marriage. He manipulated the emotions I was feeling as a normal reaction to all of the terrible things he was doing to me and found a way to tie them to my past and try to convince me that I actually had anger issues… “You are angry because you lived a life you are unhappy with” “you are angry because of the decisions you made before you met me” “you are angry because you never got to be your true self.” On and on and on. This grooming resulted in me not only walking on eggshells to try to prevent him from getting angry… but then controlling all of my emotions to the extreme so that I never reacted to anything he did. I felt like I had to be perfect at all times and tried desperately to do so… any time that he reacted in anger… or that I was not able to control my emotional responses to his anger…. I felt like I was the problem.
- Bottling up my real anger – In my experience, all of those old sayings about bottling up your anger and eventually exploding are true. I held in my anger for all of the horrible things he did to me… for all of the abuse… for all of the control… all of the bullying… all of the mean things he did. I was calm. I was sweet. I still attempted to love him. I pushed it all away somewhere deep inside. Eventually I reached a point where I couldn’t store another ounce of it… it was oozing out of me. I was reacting extremely to almost anything. I started lashing out with anger if I even got the hint that he was trying to control me, trying to manipulate my words, trying to get me to do something I didn’t want to do. I yelled, I screamed, I broke things, I threw things, I punched pillows, I stormed out of the house, I called him horrible names, I walked away, I pulled the silent treatment… I gave him everything he needed to play the victim. During that time in my life I actually thought I was turning in to the thing I hated most (him.) I hated myself for the ways that I was acting, I thought I was doing the same things that he did, I thought he was innocent and I was the abuser. I believed him now that I had a problem… that I was the angry one because I couldn’t handle any of it. I felt constantly guilty, I felt like a horrible wife… I felt like I was the problem.
- Processing my anger – Finally, after I had moved out and left The Narcissist… I started being able to process my real anger. Through therapy, through thinking without The Narcissist controlling me, through long walks in the woods, through exercise and all types of other activities… I was actually able to start processing what I had been through. I began to recognize that anger is a healthy reaction to being wronged in life. It is how you handle that anger that defines if you are being healthy with it or not. (i.e. getting angry and punching a wall – not healthy… getting angry and figuring out what caused that anger and how to prevent that in the future… healthy!) In the beginning I was VERY ANGRY at The Narcissist… I was angry at the wasted years I spent with him, I was angry that my life was so off course from where I wanted to be, I was angry that he was instantly moving on to someone else, I was angry realizing that everything I thought was just a lie. I was angry at myself for all of the choices I made, for how long I stayed, for everything I let him to do me. I was angry. The good news is that I didn’t let that anger consume me… I let myself feel it, I let myself work through it, and I let myself heal from it.
- No longer being Angry – Somewhere along that healing journey I started to realize that if I was allowing The Narcissist to bring me to negative places of anger, depression, frustration, sadness, etc., that I was still allowing him to control me and allowing him to have an impact on my life. Somewhere, I found the quote posted above and realized that the absolute best revenge I could ever have with The Narcissist would be to lead an amazing, happy, healthy, life that I am absolutely in love with, and one that he has absolutely no power over. So that is what I started doing. I still struggle with understanding how much of the control, manipulation and abuse The Narcissist was actually aware of versus what he just really thought “normal” looks like in his messed up mind. So I also shifted from being angry at him for doing all of it to pitying him because he will never understand love and compassionate and truth the way that I do. I think that on some level that realization has also helped me to get past the anger.
I am happy to say that I actually do not feel anger towards The Narcissist anymore. I certainly do not forgive him for all of the things that I endured during my time with him, I’ve just made the choice to no longer be angry about it. Without anger filling up so much of my mental space, it is amazing how much room I have for pure love and light and happiness. ❤