Anger is your friend

. . . but it can wear out its welcome!

It’s Narcissist Friday!  

Let’s just admit that the Bible seems to send a conflicting message about anger.  On one hand, we are told to avoid anger and get it out of our lives.  On the other, we are told about the anger of God.  I know that some people say only God has the right to be angry, but I think that misses the point.  Anger might be a generally negative emotion, but I think our emotions reflect the way God made us.

There are many passages that speak of the anger of God against the cruelty of people.  When Jesus saw the unkind hearts of the people around Him, He got angry (Mark 3:5).  When God gets angry, something happens.  The status quo is changed.  And, if God can get angry, then good people can get angry.  There is something good in anger.

Anger is a natural response against injustice and abuse.  We might go so far as to say that it is a right response.  It moves us to action.  We used to refer to “righteous indignation.”  Anger has moved some people to get up and rescue those who are being abused.  Anger has moved some to work hard on changing laws and practices.  Anger has moved some to make serious changes in themselves.  Anger gets things moving.

Think of anger as a large and vicious dog that you keep in your house to protect your family.  You know that the dog is powerful and ruthless and deserves respect.  Yet, you keep it around anyway.  Why?  Because there is danger in your neighborhood and you need something strong and ferocious in your house.

Now, you can’t just let a dog like that run around the neighborhood terrorizing people.  Nor should you let go of your caution when it is around your kids.  The dog could get out of hand and become dangerous.  But when the burglars or those who would harm your family come to your house, that dog could save their lives.  He would be more alert, more aggressive, and a lot more formidable than you would be.  You want the bad guys to be afraid.

Some people would say that they would never risk having a dog like that.  I understand.  There are risks, but sometimes the risk is worth taking.

There are times in life when anger is your friend.  In dealing with narcissism, anger is natural, perhaps even right.  Narcissists can be so cruel.  Without anger, some people would not have the strength to separate themselves from a narcissist.  Without anger, the narcissist may continue his/her abuse unhindered.  Without anger, no one else may ever hear of the manipulations and lies.

Anger may be the one tool in your chest that gives you the strength to get out or to say no.  I remember reading, very early in my study of narcissism, Vaknin’s comment that the most common response felt by those who realize they have been victims of narcissism is rage.  Rage that stirs them to speaking loudly and acting harshly.  Rage that makes a fist.  Rage that finally moves the victim to pack up and move out.

But listen: you can’t live there.  Rage drains your spirit and body of energy.  Anger may be useful, but it cannot be sustained without great cost.  Nor is it necessary.  You don’t want your anger to become a dangerous part of your life.  Like the big dog, anger can hurt your relationships and can hurt you.  And anger can move you to do stupid things.  Use wisdom and caution when you allow yourself to be angry.

So the Bible says that anger should be put away, not be allowed to stay for long.  Even God’s anger lasts only a moment (Psalm 30:5).  We must learn to control our anger, to be slow to anger.  Otherwise, it is dangerous for us and others.

I know that most of us have been taught to hold in our anger or to deny it and call it wrong.  The truth is that the big dog already lives with you.  You can ignore it until it gets loose and causes problems, or you can accept its presence and understand its purpose.

My point in this post is not so much to change your thinking about anger, but to give you permission to use anger to move forward with your life.  If you are the victim of a narcissist, you know that something has to change.  Even if you stay in the relationship, you must establish boundaries and find ways to regain your health.  The initial strength may come out as anger.  Don’t be afraid of it.

And, I know that narcissists are usually angry people and would read this as a way to excuse their anger.  The truth is that narcissists are what they are because of fear and anger.  They like using the big dog to scare others.  They think it makes them look strong and it moves others to do what they want.  They don’t care about relationships.

But you are not like them.  Your anger has a purpose and a place.  Your anger does not control you.  It is simply a tool for you to use and then set aside.  You control it.  Let it come out when you need it, then take it to the back yard when you don’t.

There is a risk for me to write this.  I really don’t want readers to misunderstand.  Anger is not bad, but anger is dangerous.  It will consume you if you do not control it.  Once your anger has done its work then you can choose not to live there.  You do not have to use anger to maintain your boundaries or distance.  Anger can be unpredictable and can flare out of control.  We can hurt a lot of people with our anger.  So be careful.  But don’t abandon something God gave you for strength.

What about trusting the Lord and prayer?  These are still most important, of course.  Give all things over to the Lord and trust Him to lead you.  Maybe you won’t need anger.  Maybe you will do the right thing with peace of heart and ease.  Maybe you will look at your narcissistic relationship and act in wisdom and freedom in the right way.  But, if you have become confused or intimidated in the relationship, the Lord might just allow you to get angry enough to do something.

21 Comments

Filed under Narcissism, Relationship

21 responses to “Anger is your friend

  1. Recovering

    You are right Dave. You really are. My personal opinion from experience is that being married to, or in a relationship with a NPD is unsustainable. You see alot of people on here referring to “ex”. I lived in a state of supressed rage my whole marriage and it ruined my health. He is the one that cheated and desserted the marriage but he was killing me slowly. I had NO idea how angry I was and for how long. My life has peace and joy now. I even sometimes find myself starting an debate with my new husband but I stop. I was so entrenched in fighting for everything I have had to learn that I am in a safe and loving marriage now and I don’t have to fight/explain/debate/etc.

  2. Ruth

    Thank you for writing this. I’m currently in the ‘anger’ stage of the grieving process with the realization that my marriage was all a lie. My narcissist husband is living on with his life; denying his lies and abuse of both myself and my daughter.

    I do feel rage. I feel the need/desire to make him feel pain like the pain his actions and abuse have caused us these past 11 years. But I also know that he is (in a way) immune to feeling any regret, remorse, guilt or pain. This leaves me trying to find release for the anger inside of me.

    Trying to find a positive way to channel the intensity of emotion welled up with in me. I pray for grace, for guidence and the ability to keep moving forward and away from the pain of the past.

    • Jennie

      Ruth, as Dave said, it’s okay to be angry and it can even be a good thing, but do be careful in the desire to “make him feel pain”. In my experience, they will use your desire and attempts at this as ammunition to shoot right back at you and N’s have a tendency to be very accurate shots.

      Again, in my experience, specific anger at a specific situation can be used for good. It gives us the impetus and momentum to take action against, or move further away from, or whatever. It is the all-over, generalized anger that brings us down. When you find yourself thinking along that line, try and refocus on what you are doing at the moment, put on some uplifting music, dive into a good book and shove the generalized anger out the door before it gets the better of you. It will get better in time. It’s been 6 years for me since I left my 20 year marriage and the pain is almost all gone. When he does or says stupid things, it just makes me roll my eyes and I feel glad that I’m not entrapped in that web anymore. (((hugs)))

      • Ruth

        Jennie, thank you! This is a daily struggle right now and I’m in the process of untangling myself from the dysfunction of this marriage. I am in therapy and it helps so much to also have support on this blog. I deeply appreciate you reaching out to me and I take to heart your advice.

        Ruth

  3. Joy

    Thank you for this- the Holy Spirit and anger propelled me out of an unhealthy friendship. Unfortunately, most of my friends saw the smear campaign against me as a one time event and are still in relationship with the narcissist – they can be very convincing and charming, can’t they? It is frustrating and hard to have faith and trust this is part of His plan. Thankful to be moving forward and away- just hard to see friends still in relationship w her.

    • Jennie

      If God is in your life, then you can trust that He brings you into and out of certain relationships for a reason. For everything there is a season….

  4. Lauren

    This! I had many angry outbursts when my Ns behavior crossed the line into the illegal. He actually backed off a lot of manipulation.When the dust settled somewhat, the landscape of our marriage changed enough that I’m able to push back as he encroaches my boundaries. I never would have thought that his bad behavior would have empowered me, but he seems unsure of himself around my new found anger. I don’t know the ending, but my mind has cleared through all this. What I don’t know how to deal with is that when I let go of the anger, he takes advantage & uses me. The only response he seems to understand is my anger. And yes, it’s very exhausting & not the state I can continue in any longer. It’s led to a lot of depression & I believe is toxic in the long run.

    • Joy

      Depression here as well- narc used many manipulation tactics -sadly related to abuse I had as a child. Triggered a lot of painful stuff and wounded again. Then no one speaking up to defend me in smear campaign just wounded more. Has been a nightmare- especially with many worshipping her and her talents- she’s a gifted musician.

  5. Ed Dykstra

    Realized that my rage started with a reaction to my over-bearing, narcissistic Mom. Has ruined many relationships, and has severely damaged my marriage. Very sad and grieved about this realty. Thanks for putting your finger on it for me.

  6. UnForsaken

    Excellent warning, and reminder to go the right direction when what we humanly feel runs away with us!

    I first came here because of rage about an injustice – because my anger had ” gotten loose”. I didn’t want to live there, but I was puzzled by my reaction. I think I had always felt that way about prejuduce, etc., but had never had the physical strength to stop and think about it, Do something about it. So my anger took me by suprise.

    Now I’m keeping an eye out for it ! I want to act rightly when he is not, and don’t want what I do to get someone else in any trouble.

    But I’m also grateful that God used it to point out how bad it could get. I had Never lost my temper or even questioned the N in that manner before. It made me take more seriously what I already knew about the Ns motivations.

    And God brought me to this site as a direct answer to prayer!

  7. Great post! I have been frightened of anger for years. Finally, I am learning how to deal with it instead of feeling guilty and stuffing it down.

  8. Richard

    I agree wholeheartedly.

  9. SingingEagle

    I am currently trying to “wisely” discern the anger or rage in me as I go back and forth to the rehab center where my narc husband is recovering from a stroke. Much of me is in crisis mode and there in auto-reflex taking care of what he needs (tho he hid all the medical & important info a wife needs from me) but the other part of me wishes he stay there or at a nursing home. I ponder the idea that all the 30+ yrs of abuse (yes I left but had to return) and God puts me in a position of caring for the very one that hurt me so terribly all these years. Friends joke about the movie “Diary of a mad Black Woman” and ask what I plan to do with him if or when he comes home? I realized that I am in a state of post traumatic stress and waking up in the morning in a ball of tension even though he is not here. My anger is why am I still feeling terrorized by this man like I’m a 5yr old child? I want to be bold and stand up to him without any fear or intimidation!! Especially now since he is physically not capable of doing any harm (the abuse was all emotional, psychological), I am angry that I shouldn’t still feel such fear.

    • UnForsaken

      Singing Eagle, praying for you.

      I feel confusion, fear and anger more than I realize . I had a good weekend, but this morning still woke up having a nightmare where I was consumed with anger. The anger was what made the dream so terrible. But in real life I think anger can motivate me to do something good, and it’s fear that paralyzes me in shame. You know, it’s the realities that count!

      Whatever feelings are holding you back, I pray God will resolve them for you, turn them all to His good, and motive you with His peace.((HUG!))

      • SingingEagle

        Thanks UnForsaken! Yes, fear paralyzes but looking to let Gods perfect love cast out all fear! (hug back at cha`!)

      • UnForsaken

        SingingEagle, always hoping people will feel the hugs and intended love I send them. Feeling the hug you sent me …and the smile you put on my face! 🙂 🙂

        Still keeping you in my prayers.

  10. Maggie

    Anger ….it is just so unpredictable at times. There are many things to be angry at when in relationship and recovery from an NPD spouse/partner. Truly for the most the anger is welcomed when it helps me reach a new level of self care or a new reality about him . Sometimes it is not so productive and when it is expressed, even if it is in moderation and with temperance, it is always received by the N as though the anger is a matter of my personal character and integrity versus perhaps just a flaw or a bad day or a justified response to N behavior and so on… I think that is perhaps one of the more frustrating things about a relationship with an N. It is ok for them to express anger but not ok for another. I have repressed my anger at times in the relationship just so not to have to listen to the nonsense feedback. Life with an N is terribly wasteful of life at times.

    • UnForsaken

      Maggie, you say truth. Had experience a lot like that recently. They expect a reply, and there is no good reply to give . They expect us to be the peacemakers, but they have destroyed the building blocks for peaceful relations.

      It Is frustrating, but keep seeking God’s face on this one. We want to do right ,and He knows what Right is in such a confused situation. It doesn’t mean you will feel you’ve done right at the moment, but when we’ve given it to Him, asked Him to show us, I believe He will eventually give peace about it.

      Looking to Him for my reality has been a challenge lately. Praying you will find peace as His caring hand guides YOU !

  11. Pingback: Part Three: Jeff's WTF moment: Judas (Richard) knows I'm innocent, but psychotically rages at Jeff--Tracy's Reign of Terror: True Story of Narcissism, Bullying, Domestic Violence and Child Abuse, Part 60 | Nyssa's Hobbit Hole: Blog

  12. Tammy

    Ahhh… So true Pastor Dave. Anger is destructive and dangerous. At the same time God made us with the ability to be angry, and I too believe that it is there to jolt us to awareness of injustice, abuse, etc. and MOVE us to action. Healthy action though.

    I believe that narcissistic abuse leaves victims either fearful to move or just plain paralyzed from self-induced numbness. In that case, a little healthy anger can be good to move one to healthy action. ie: removing yourself and your children from an unhealthy situation.

    Unfortunately, narcissistic “ex’s” are notorious for continuing attempts to control through manipulating children or any other underhanded means they can think of. Anger can move you to take steps to stop them. Maybe it means having the courage to have difficult conversations with others. Perhaps that means legal action.

    As long as the anger is channeled properly, it can be a good thing.

  13. Object of Contempt

    Thank you so much for this post!

    I have dealt with abuse (covert and verbal, mostly) all my life. The assault on my sense of dignity and personhood has become more and more debilitating along the way. Part of that process was making anger an unavailable emotional response for me. Lately, the passive and covert aggressive methods used against me have made anger dangerous for me to express. It feeds my N’s desire to control and makes her feel strong when she is being vindictive. No anger means she will continue on comfortably as I passively relinquish my dignity. Having anger also gives her ammunition she can use when she wants to tell people how mean and disturbed I am.

    Still, God made me in his image and it is foolish to discard the responsibility to walk with regard to that image. I’m not discarding humility, but I am defending the value of doing justly and the value of human dignity. Clearly anger can be as dangerous as a fire, or scripture wouldn’t contain so many warnings, but it is an immutable characteristic of God that He is capable of being angry.

    Ps. 7:11 “God is a righteous judge, and God is angry every day.”
    (translated many different ways for no good reason… check it out in a Heb/Eng parallel Bible)

    The thing is, the Ns in my life weren’t the only ones restricting me to a life of never expressing anger. I have the church’s bias against anger consistently shoved on me, even by those who are cognitively aware that anger is not automatically sinful. One thing I can say is that for all the sermonizing about anger, and how it should /always/ give way to mercy and forgiveness (automatically and unconditionally, of course), I’ve never heard anyone describe the wisdom actually needed to discern when anger is good. Your blog post is the most direct statement I’ve seen.

    There are _many_ scriptures that say how God has been provoked to anger. Apparently people are supposed to be stronger than God, and not be “provokable”.

    Pr. 25:23 “The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.” We should be always ready to extend mercy, and be slow to anger. We should also be wise enough to use it judiciously.

    This topic has obviously become a tender spot in my life. I have come to think about and examine anger a lot. I hope I wasn’t too long-winded for just a comment.

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