My Anger

It’s Narcissist Friday!   

 

From time to time something happens to remind me of struggles of the past. It might just be a memory, or it might be another interaction with one of the narcissists who have caused pain. In those times, it is normal for some of the old feelings to come back. And, I have to admit, some of those old feelings aren’t very nice.

Dealing with narcissists and abusers means dealing with our own feelings. My last post prompted some introspection among commenters. Some mentioned their own feelings, particularly of anger. Some knew their anger was justified, but it still felt wrong. Along the way many have been taught that anger is bad, always. So, even when the anger was prompted by the abuse of the narcissist, it still seemed wrong.

I have written on anger before (here). Those who have read over the years know that I believe anger is a natural and, sometimes, good emotion. It has its purpose. It isn’t a good place to live, but it may be very helpful in moving to a new place.

What I want to write on today is this idea that we should somehow be able to control our feelings. When dealing with the cruelty that comes from others, we all find it very hard to control our feelings. The “don’t worry-be happy” message is not only useless, but cruel in itself. Sometimes we want to scream: “Don’t you think I would be happy if I could?”

When we receive an injury, our response to the pain is involuntary. We flinch. We jump. We grimace. We cry. We might even strike out. These physical responses are normal. To not have them would be strange. Watch a child who falls or hurts himself somehow. Often the first response is confusion. The mind doesn’t register the pain as quickly as it registers the fact that something happened, something unpleasant. It may take a moment or two for the crying to start.

So when we receive an emotional injury, why would we think that our responses suddenly become voluntary? You would not tell a child to stop making a fuss about a real injury. So why do people think they can tell us not to feel a certain way about the emotional and spiritual injuries we suffer from narcissists? Or why do we think we can suddenly control the feelings we have in response to those injuries?

Yes, I know that we are adults and can handle pain. Right. We can learn better responses for chronic pain. We can learn techniques that take our minds off the pain or even minimize the pain as we learn to expect its coming. But when that pain taps into deep personal insecurities or memories of former pains, and when that pain comes unexpectedly or in an overwhelming way, and when that pain comes from someone we have come to trust or even to love—then all the techniques and learning go out the window. Then we become confused, more insecure, very sad, and even angry.

Is anger wrong? That question is wrong! Anger just is, sometimes. Sometimes I am afraid. Sometimes I am lonely. Sometimes I am confused. Sometimes I am hurt. Sometimes I am sad. And, yes, sometimes I am angry. I want to handle all of these, and I usually can, but I can’t beat myself up for feeling them. They are natural. They point to something I should be aware of.

I also wrote about the validity and usefulness of our feelings in another post (here). It prompted a question that has come up often when I want to validate the struggles and negative feelings of victims. “But what about the feelings of the narcissist?” I really wish we could not worry about that. I know that narcissists use their “feelings” to manipulate the people around them and demand attention by their emotions. That’s not what most victims do. Most victims are troubled by their feelings. They wish they didn’t have some of their negative feelings. So that’s the direction of my writing today.

One more thing. Narcissists usually will not own their negative feelings. They project those feelings onto others. So strong is their ability to project, particularly to the people closest to them, that they are able to pass on those emotions to their victims. In other words, are you not usually an angry person? Could it be that your anger actually is a projection from the angry narcissist in your life? Is your loneliness or shame or fear your own, or does it belong to the abuser? Many have said that they were strong and secure and confident before they met the narcissist. Perhaps what you feel now is not really yours.

So how do you deal with feelings? Well, it doesn’t really matter if they are projections from the narcissist, because you can’t unfeel them easily either way. Instead, embrace those feelings. Acknowledge them and thank the Lord for them. Ask Him to lead you into them, to explore why you are feeling that way. He will begin to show you why you are angry or sad or lonely. Then trust Him to stand with you, even in those negative feelings. He will help you sort them out and find the way to health and peace.

I have always been impressed with the way the Bible accepts our feelings. Read the Psalms. David is angry, hurt, lonely, confused, ashamed, even bitter. God loves him through all of it.

He loves you through all of your feelings, too.

26 Comments

Filed under Narcissism

26 responses to “My Anger

  1. grace551

    Wonderful post. Thank you.

  2. Thank you. I so needed to read this today. I have missed your writing (my fault) .

  3. Wow…I really needed to read this today. I’ve just recently been trying to come to some kind of understanding of my last relationship, why it happened, what happened and how to left it go. I found your site by accident and while reading your posts, kept getting triggered over and over. Now, with your help and help from youtube videos, etc. I’m beginning to get what happened and why it happened.

    Like most readers/responders here, I’m trying to sort out my own emotions…the anger, the confusion, the frustration. My therapist has said that anger is a secondary emotion that is sometimes used to ‘cover up’ the real emotion. Like you stated in your post (and this is so difficult sometimes), I am leaning to not only embrace my anger (and other less than positive, productive emotions) but to welcome it and thank it for being a part of my human experience. Usually, if I ‘sit with’ my anger long enough, I’ll get deep enough beneath it to discover the real emotion I’m covering up with the anger.

    I had never thought of the fact that possibly I absorbed some of my negative emotions from my Narc. That’s something I will have to ‘sit with’ to see if it fits my experience but something tells me it will. Having a weak sense of self contributed to my being ripe for absorbing emotions that weren’t my own and having emotions that were my own, misused and abused.

    Thanks for your kind and thought-provoking Friday posts. You’re making a world of difference in my world!!

  4. Still Reforming

    Great post. I agree whole-heartedly.

    I think one of the negative consequences of the teaching of the church to not trust our own feelings has been the wrongful fall-out of not accepting our own feelings. As you wrote, they are there for a reason. And while our feelings can sometimes cause us to react in ways we wish we wouldn’t or hadn’t, they are indicators and they’re not all bad. (In fact, in the case of living with a narcissist in one’s life, I think those feelings are very good things indeed. They are healthy. Pain is healthy. Not desirable, but if we understand where it comes from, we can learn to deal with it somehow and possibly even avoid it.)

    Your post brings to mind the section of Ecclesiastes in which there is a season for everything. There is also a season (time) for anger. The Bible tells us – be angry, but do not sin. Jesus was angry. Others in Scripture had righteous anger. We too can be angry (and hurt and sad, etc). We have to learn to not listen to the lies of the narc and his (or her) supporters, but to the truth of what God says on the subject.

    Thank you, Pastor Dave.

  5. AES

    The last post on Narcissistic Rage and this post about Anger is very helpful as is all the posts! I just wanted to say how I am so greatful to have found this site and have spent a lot of time reading these posts which have been so very helpful. I had mentioned once before in a comment that I was wanting to give an intensive christian counseling a try which has been done a week ago in which we did four hours one day and four hours the next. I had my reservations as to if this would work or not and when we went I guess I was hoping that with having a third party involved that maybe they could help my husband to recognize his behavior or way of thinking and even help out as far as a Christian walk with God but things did not turn out exactly as I was hoping. I think there was some of a break through and it seems like he wants things to work out or try to communicate better but when we talk about his behavior especially the anger, he gets defensive even when pointing out to the counselor of examples and still husband just does not want to seem to own up to how he is and it was mentioned about how husband was treated when he was young and also how his parents did with him and the counselor asked if he liked how he was treated and he said no but yet he will implement things still with our kids and other situations. The counselor mentioned to husband that with God, the generational curse can be broken and he don’t have to continue in his ways and husband says he begs God to help him and counselor says do you forgive others and yourself and he stated that it was hard (which a person must let go of this and give to God and allow God to fill us with his peace and love). Husband says he has faith and prays but yet he keeps trying to justify his behavior and when I show things in the Bible about Christian behavior, defenses arise or him trying to justify behavior or other excuses. A big part of anger that I have is the fact of how husband projects or the twisting of things back on to me and his perception of things is inaccurate and even when I try to re-explain not how he is perceiving he will still have same mindset and twist things around and also twist things around to others as well bringing confusion which really gets me angry and hurts so much. I get angry but I try not to sin with the anger as the bible tells us but at times there is always that slip up with how reactions can be on anything and I am also very truly remorseful and want to do better! All in all since counseling, I don’t think it was truly helpful in the way I hoped. There is a lot of things that I found to be helpful and will make every effort on my part but it also will take BOTH of us to work together! At this point, I know that only God can bring healing and change. I am very much debating on the idea of separating as I really really need a break and my younger kids are ready to graduate now but there are a couple things kinda making think if I should or not and am confused still as I don’t have enough income for one thing to make it on my own unless I share apartment with someone and also I keep thinking about the scripture in I Peter 3 in the first verse that discusses about how if husband obey not the word that how he could be won by conversation of wife. At the same time with that particular verse, because of all the stress it pulls me down and interferes with how I would like for my walk with God to be and then the other evening I happened to turn over to a particular Christian program and it was one where people can call in with questions and someone was wondering if they should divorce or not and explained about their situation and the person on the program mentioned about the different reasons for divorce in the bible and also asked if spouse was a Christian and the caller stated yes but unsure how their belief is due to behavior (which reminds me of my situation) and the program person stated that if they were a Christian you know them by their actions and also stated that in so many words that when there is turmoil or things going on and if interfering with walk with God then felt okay to move on but that that person should also take it to the Lord for direction. When I heard this it was like it was meant for me to turn to that program at that time to hear that. However, all this is still confusing. I know that a lot of people here are going through the same kinds of things and I appreciate all helpful thoughts on this. At the same time, I know I need to give this all over to God and seek direction and wisdom. I thank God so much for this site and I pray for all here with any situation that you all are going through. No matter the outcome on anything: “An we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

  6. ruthie050573

    I’m convinced, as Christians, we don’t get angry nearly enough. We often believe the lie we have to be “nice.” Kindness and love, I’m learning, are often very difficult to live out — in that I mean it is hard to love others well by confronting sin and standing up against evil. As you stated, it’s inappropriate to live in anger, but our response to injustice, sin, and evil should be anger- anger at evil.

  7. Sunflower

    My first h was angry all the time, everything irritated him. I think it was because he had a porn brain and any responsibilities (us and our needs) interrupted his thoughts. Once or twice a year I would get fed up and blow. I was angry! So he made a practice of trying to make a wedge between me and the children, telling them to ‘not bother mom or tell her what we talked about or what’s going on because of her anger problem, you know?’ When I asked him about his anger he said, “What??? I am never angry. You just make me so depressed and I get rattled.” I think now that I should have not felt so guilty about the anger and used it sooner for change. As Ruthie says, we are taught to always be ‘nice’. Where is that in the Bible? The Mormons are good at that. “Always keep sweet.” Never rebel. We must rebel against evil.

  8. Cat

    My mother in law once yelled at her 5 year old granddaughter after she stood barefoot on a rose branch that was full of thorns. She’d put the rose branches in her flower beds to stop her dogs from going in there and one had fallen out onto the grass. She yelled “stop crying, it’s not that sore!” I was horrified. Even for an adult, stepping on a rose branch would be painful and they were big thorns. It gave me a lot of insight into how my narcissist ex husband had been raised.

    • LM

      🙂 I remember the “stop crying or I will give you something to cry about” saying after having been spanked or verbally disciplined. It is one of the things I swore I would not say as a parent to my kids. And I didn’t. But I did receive a card from my son of the things parent’s say to their kids, and that stop crying one was on there. I was glad that he said “most of them” were true, not all, glad that I was deliberate not to say at least that one. Glad we can learn from the N’s in our life.

  9. crystal1969

    Your writings seem to “magically” reach me just as I am most troubled; funnily enough about your actual current point for the day. When i seem most doubtful of my thoughts/feelings and/or rather the entitlement i have to them your email arrives.
    You are a blessing. I have never been taught any religion at all, but believe their is something unseen that helps us all on our paths. Thank you for the sanity you have often provided me. I see that i am not alone in my gratitude for your comforting wisdom. Please continue your path that clearly helps so many in need. Blessed be 💜

  10. Deb

    These last two blogs have been so timely for me, thank you. Last week we buried my brother and my narcissistic father was so cruel to everyone in our family that I was struggling with my anger, even hate, towards him. The last two blogs have really helped me understand my feelings and adjust accordingly (along with prayer and the grace of God). Thanks again.

  11. Lene

    Thank you for this post! Last week’s post about rage has had me thinking a lot about the things my ex projected onto me. I know that I am a better person than he made me feel. Sooner or later, I’ll get him out of my head and learn to live a bit more for myself…ironic that he always made feel like the selfish one. I look at the things I do for others and I wonder how in the world anyone could come to that conclusion! I’m no saint, but I really don’t believe I’m selfish all the time either.

  12. Hazel

    Thank you Dave. Spot on as ever! Thank you x

  13. sandra

    Thank you for understanding and sharing these wonderful articles, as others have said, they seem to come at the most needed time.

    A question I had is when you wrote that Ns project their feelings, does that mean thru the power of suggestion, emotional manipulation, or coersion? My N dominates, so everything else is excluded in the process.

    Most sincere thanks for your efforts with your wonderful blog!

    Sincerely,
    Sandra

    • Sandra, my N husband projects by accusing others of having the very problems he has himself. So, he would attack me constantly for being horribly insecure, when he was insecure himself. He would accuse someone of using people, when he uses people himself. I am told what a bad worker I am, what a bad parent I am, what a bad Christian I am….EVERYTHING he worries about in himself he accuses others of instead. He hoped this would make me worry about my own problems and not notice his.

      • Still Reforming

        2720cynthia,
        What you just described was a turning point for me in my relationship with my narcissist husband. When at a certain point the light bulb went off in my head, I started realizing that every time he screamed about how controlling I am, it’s EXACTLY that that he was trying to do: control me. It’s amazing because he STILL has the same complaint today, even though he left us about eight months ago, apparently I’m still controlling him. Man, if I only could then he’d be many more miles away out of sight and earshot.

      • sandra

        Dear Cynthia,
        Oh I see what you mean. This would then be something I understand as their “being in denial”.

        I am sorry to hear of the difficulty you experienced. I wish you well.

        Thanks for your reply.

  14. Thank you for a wonderful and helpful post. Ive been following your articles and use it as my guide as it is really difficult to forget an experience living with a narcissist. But i decided to turn on to God as i believe that is the best weapon i can have. There are many books, articles i read about how to deal with a narcissist but most comes from their own experiences which lead to base their advices from their beliefs coming from their feelings or emotions. I thought then that the scientific studies is better but still it comes from different studies amd observations from men. You base your opinions from the Bible and that I want to follow. In this world, there are so many intelligent and smart people but too confident on their own knowledge. I look forward learning more from you. God Bless.

  15. Rachel

    This was so, so timely and Providential for me, thankyou!
    I am consciously teaching my children to have emotional intelligence and especially to know that the anger they feel at their N father’s behaviour is legitimate. But also, that they must choose not to put it to destructive use. Your post has crystallised this thinking for me.
    I am also thinking a lot about how the lack of boundaries means one is subsumed into the N’s personality; their constant projection of negative emotion, that baggage dump that we all know so well, eventually can become so much part of us that we no longer know where we end and they begin. One piece of work I am finding necessary over these weeks and months is to define which feelings are actually my own, that emanate from me and my own soul, rather than those that are tagged onto me by him. All of your posts are very “permission giving” Dave- that is such a tremendous help for me and ai am sure for others.
    Praying for you and your family.

    • AES

      Rachel i know how you feel about wondering where we end and they begin. I have struggled so much before wondering if maybe it is me that is the issue and maybe things really were my fault and maybe if i could have done or said something differently, etc. that maybe husband would not have reacted or thought the way he did. By accident i found out about narcissism and finding this site has helped tremendously which i should not say by accident as i believe God has led me here. God has opened me up about so much with regard to all this craziness going on with my situation but i know all things work for our good and i can say that no matter if i decide to stay or leave that what i have been through has brought me to that point of determination that no matter what of closer walk with God and desire to walk in His ways and making me stronger in many ways. I pray God helps you and everyone here through all this!

      • Rachel

        AES, the thing I found most helpful in trying to assess boundaries and ones own motivation, culpability etc, was trying to reflect on my own actions only in relation to God and how He sees them.
        After all, He is the arbiter of our internal motives, desires, needs.
        I became so confused by what my N husband was throwing at me that eventually it looked ridiculous to me and I started internally questioning his explanations and judgments on what was happening.
        To simplify the issues and to reflect on them as interactions between my soul and God’s love and mercy was very liberating. I removed the N as the “middle man” and didn’t allow him to filter the world for me.
        Thanks for your prayers and good wishes, I am praying for you and all who read and comment here too! Blessings.x

  16. AES

    Rachel, yes I very much want the way my actions are and communication to be conducted in such a way that is pleasing to God although sometimes can be hard and stumble but thank God for his grace mercy love and forgiveness. I have always been the kind of person to have that certain mentality of wanting to be brave and stand up to people but you can’t fight fire with fire and with my husband, my being brave and trying to call him out on things has not been very pretty and so I am learning more and more the best I can to give this situation over to God seeking wisdom and direction and that no matter what of wanting to conduct myself in ways pleasing to God and praying for husband to be open to things and for husband to see his need for God’s love and help. Many times I do feel so sorry for my husband and for anyone that has developed not only the narcissistic characteristics but any kind of personality or mental disorder because of the things that they themselves have gone through and its that vicious cycle with anyone and I try to be understanding of why they do what they do but it still DOES NOT make it right to treat anyone any ole which way and makes me wonder how could they not see what they do or not care or not want to change their ways especially when people try to show them what they are doing or try to talk to them about God’s love and how God can bring healing and change but then I am better understanding this by the things I have learned with this site and also everyone has free will and God can tug at someone’s heart but the individual has free will to accept or reject! Thanks to you and all hear for sharing experiences and words of wisdom and encouragement as we all are in need but most importantly thanks be to God in everything and for bringing us through things and I think of the scripture that talks about to not think it strange of the fiery trial we go through (I Peter 4:12) and another scripture “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12:9) and I tell you that all the things that I have gone through that through God has made me stronger in many ways and strengthening my desire of that closer walk with God and that determination!!!

    • Rachel

      AES, Yes, I can really relate to what you say about feeling sorry for your husband, I feel sorry for my N husband. They do suffer greatly but as you say, we have to make clear boundaries to stop the, exploiting us and abusing.
      It is a complete puzzle about free will and how, as you point out, God can offer His love and mercy but it can be rejected by someone who needs it so much! This is the part I can’t get my head around. I think there is some kind of mental problem as well as a spiritual blindness that grows gradually until we can’t get through to them at all.
      That’s the point when you do just have to hand it over to God and let Him do His work while you continue to pray and pray for your loved one. The breaking point for me was seeing the damage to my children and realising that I had to out their wellbeing first now.
      Thanks for the reminder that we should always make thanksgiving to God, He does bless us in so many ways even in the middle of all this pain.

  17. Thank you, Dave. I needed this right now.

  18. LM

    Thank you!! As I drove into work this morning, I was wondering how to not feel the hurt or anger when pinged by my mom. I suppose how to become numb to what happens, especially when I have anticipated it and thought I had made up my mind, or convinced myself not to be bothered. This time it was her being secretive. My brother visited for Mother’s Day. I left town. I did not know he was coming – he usually doesn’t know until last minute. I assumed he probably would and thought it would be perfect since I was running away for the weekend. But after talking to my mom and even with me out town, not able to “intrude,” not a word. Not the first time. She did this at Thanksgiving and a Mother’s Day and Father’s Day weekend before. So the anger is in response to the confusion and really the hurt feelings of being left out in the conversation, of things being hidden. And of the fact that for years my mom complained about her family “leaving her out” not telling her about visits and divorces and so on. I was taught that this behavior was wrong, my mom reiterated it was wrong and now she is the one treating me that way with a smile on her face and hop skip and jump in her voice.

    So again, thank you for this post!! I will quit trying to fight the feelings and embrace them with prayer and an ear open to what God has for me.

  19. Thank you, Pastor Dave, for a thoughtful post on this tender subject.

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