While I was growing up, I was terrified of my own anger.
Like so many others who grew up as very late-stage Baby Boomers, I was caught between the good girl, ‘children are to be seen and not heard’ era of post-World War II, and what some have called the ‘dawning of the Age of Aquarius’, a period in which freedom and peace were the call of the heart while the mind wandered about, like a boat without a rudder, looking for an anchor. We had conscientious objectors to the war in Vietnam, Hippy buses painted with bright flowers and peace signs, free love and Woodstock. We had ‘Jesus’ buses and Hari Krishnas with jingling bells on their sandals, but we also had patriarchal power structures in every facet of life. At the same time, we were in the grips of second wave feminism.
This transition period was confusing. Some of us were forced into one camp or the other without our consent.
I desperately wanted to be able to express my authentic self but my parents remained somewhat stuck in the era of the Domestic Goddess, which neatly slotted all women into a limited role with stringent guidelines for feminine behaviour and absolute limits with regard to career choice. Freedom of speech was reserved for men. For women, laughing too loudly was deemed ‘ugly’; any expression of anger roundly condemned and punished, no matter how justified; any attempts to shut ourselves off from the world thwarted by demands to interact with family; closed bedroom doors were forcibly opened and contact with peers disallowed.
You may not have grown up in my era but, if you’re in a relationship with a controlling, abusive person, you’ll know all about being punished for daring to be angry, even when your anger is self protective and justifiable.
It took me far too long to learn that ‘righteous’ anger is not only acceptable, but often, essential. Anger in and of itself is nothing more than a feeling…a very important feeling that alerts us to the fact that our boundaries are being violated. And when our boundaries are being violated, physically, emotionally or psychologically, we need to say ‘No’! Forcefully, if necessary. And in a rational manner if we’re able to.
But we’re not always able to portray our message calmly and rationally. If we’ve been kept under strict control by those who have no compunction about using verbal and emotional aggression against us; silenced by their attacks, be those attacks overt or covert; punished relentlessly for every perceived slight, no matter how irrational; it just might be beyond our capabilities to stand our ground logically and without undue emotion. I would say it’s nigh impossible. We are the deer caught in the headlights…startled, panicked and at the mercy of our innate responses – fight or flight.
But at times, I managed it…to launch a logical debate without undue emotion…to present facts in a calm (and often soothing) voice. It took a huge effort of will from this exhausted human being, drained like so many of you, by emotional vampires baying for our blood. And yet, even when I managed it, did it make any difference to the outcome foisted upon me by my narcissistic abuser? No! It did not.
We must always remember that we’re dealing with people who aren’t in a rational frame of mind. They’re not rational by nature. Any attempt to use logic will fall on deaf ears. They simply cannot and will not, enter into a civil and fair conversation. To face facts and logic would tear down their fragile shell. It would destroy the twisted framework on which they have built their lives.
Don’t expect this to change. The odds are virtually non-existent.
Knowing this…believing this…will hopefully bring you a ‘light bulb’ moment.
You have a right to be angry when you are mistreated; lied to; manipulated; denigrated; invalidated; demeaned; isolated from friends and family; your most vulnerable emotional wounds ripped open; your truth denied; your efforts to build relationship derided; your thoughts and words mocked; your feelings disregarded; your hopes discarded.
Expect the inevitable. You’ll be torn apart and treated to another round of abuse and manipulation. You know this. You’ve been here before.
Now you know it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the narcissistic, entitled ‘jailer’ in your life.
They will use your righteous anger against you.
They inflame that righteous anger by their unjust treatment of you. They set you up…they bait you. And then, when you take the bait, they will blame you. They will use your justified anger against you.