Monday, September 11, 2006

Dealing with Anger

If you are still smarting from narcissistic abuse, try something the next time your anger rises.

Go somewhere apart, where you can be alone. Then just sit down and admit to yourself, "Boy! am I angry!" Let yourself feel it.

I guarantee that you will feel great relief. Even comfort. Yes, you deserve your own sympathy even more than you deserve the sympathy of anybody else.

Why do you feel this immediate relief and comfort? Because you just took the lid off a pressure cooker. You stopped trying to repress your anger. You stopped trying to deny it. You stopped trying to unfeel it = distance yourself from it.

You stopped viewing it as a flaw. You know it's justified. And you know that you must temper its influence on your conduct.

It hurts. It's psychological pain. A very unpleasant state of mind, perhaps the most unpleasant this side of fright.

And, like any pain, it WILL pass. But you can't wish it away. All you can do is delude yourself by repressing it. That's not dealing with it. Anger is like grief: you can deal with it now, or you can deal with it later, but sooner or later you're going to have to deal with it.

This is why "venting" sometimes helps the victims of narcissists. In venting to others they are owning their feelings. I don't think that's as helpful though as just going off by yourself and venting to yourself alone. Why? Because you're more honest when not performing for others. You'll own your vulnerability and do more weeping than fuming.

Venting to others is like releasing the valve on a pressure cooker, whereas venting to yourself is like taking the whole lid off.

We don't blame those sick in the flesh for their pain, so we shouldn't blame those sick at heart for it, either. They are responsible only for their conduct, not their feelings. If somebody hits you with a club, whether physical or psychological, THEY are the one responsible for your pain.

The pain, in all its manifestations -- not just of anger, but of grief, sorrow, and shame as well -- is a huge burden, and it is unfair for you to have to bear it, because the narcissist is the one responsible for it. You are carrying his cross, paying for his sins.

That's not forgiveness of his debt: that's extortion.

Now, think what it means then for everybody else to dump also the BLAME for your painful feelings on you. That heaps insult upon injury to outrage. That's the unbearable part. That's what cannot be tolerated.


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At 1:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With my twisted family, there is no forgiveness because, according to their thinking, there is never anything to forgive. After a particularly outrageous abuse, our narcissist always makes a pre-emptive strike against my credibility. He complains to the rest of the family (he makes the rounds with lightning speed) about my "latest" aggression and injury to him! Naturally, that always leaves me with the choice of refusing to defend myself (implying guilt) or telling the real story. They ask me to explain myself! In the end, it will be thought, at best, that there has been a misunderstanding, mostly on my part. Forgiveness? No need! No harm, no foul. I have clearly overreacted and "shouldn't let it bother" me. You see, this black-hearted monster carries a family-issued Get Out Of Jail Free card.

The funny thing is, after abusing you and then lying to the world about it, the narcissist expects you to be grateful that HE has forgiven YOU and is willing to let bygones be bygones! Of course, the rest of the family is quite put out when you refuse this magnanimous gesture.

As maddening as it is to have family members discount the abuse with which the narcissist slathers you, it stinks even more when the narcissist forces you to have to defend your integrety in the face of his lies. Even when you try to ignore and insulate yourself from the narcissist, if you are unfortunate enough to be stuck with a connection him, he will always find some way to move you around. Especially when others feed his evil by discounting your injury.

At 1:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're correct -- it's much more than anger; it truly is shame. I am personally ashamed of having had a relationship with an N, because of what I did, and failed to do, during that relationship. I think we all feel that shame to some exent.

We have shame that we were moral doormats and that we uncritically listened to the defamation that our N spouted. We feel shame for not having done anything for the sake of the people whose reputations were wrecked by the N. We feel shame that we didn't speak up. We feel shame that we were so gullible, so completely credulous, so passive, that we swallowed the N's lies so completely.

Ns are like a virus in that regard. They are able to take otherwise decent people, and cause them to lose sense, cause them to see life through the N's sick, twisted prism. It's as if they enter your cell structure, and point your DNA in the wrong direction.

But, of course, they are not viruses, because viruses have no conscience. Viruses don't know it's wrong to hurt people for pleasure. Viruses don't know right from wrong. Viruses don't choose to do harm -- it's their nature. The narcissist, however, has a choice. He rejects human decency, and freely chooses to be a malignant monster. He's not insane, he's not confused -- he's just evil.

And when we finally understand that we used to be friends or lovers of someone who is truly evil, I guess it's not surprising we hang our heads in shame.

At 1:42 PM, Anonymous GH said...

I agree wholeheartedly with Puglette that there is nothing for the victim to feel ashamed of -- but I also agree with Anonymous 2 that we nevertheless often do feel that way.

Part of it is the 20/20 hindsight -- knowing what we know now, we wonder how we failed to see it back when.

Part of it is that for many of us, whe we slowly start to recognize the problem, well, we cover it up We feel sorry for that inner child, accept that deep woundedness as an excuse for the hurtful conduct, and thinking perhaps that they might "get better" if we just nurture and care for them, we try to protect them from the consequences of their behavior until they do.

And it's this last part that probably leads to the greatest part of our "shame." For one, we suddenly feel complicit. Further, when people are unable to see what "our" problem with the N is, when they think we are nuts for suggesting that this magnanimous guy is somehow less than Mr. Perfect, we suddenly get the sinking feeling in the pit of our stomach that part of the reason they can't see is because we did such a good job in the past of helping the N to build his cover.

We do need to forgive ourselves for our part and our misjudgment. Perhaps by recognizing that (I think in many cases anyway) our conduct was shaped by good intentions and genrosity of spirit.

At 11:37 AM, Blogger Wayness said...

I was raised by an N Dad and can promise you there is plenty of anger, guilt and shame floating around since they fix it so they have got you coming or going and since that's the way you were raised. And of course there's a lot of history over the years to process - a history of dupedom.

I've been reading books on being related to an N recently and I've done every last thing they say not to do in interacting with an N. Most of the list of Don't's I've done multiple times. Sigh.

Since recently identifying my Dad as an N and starting to come to grips with it (a work in progress), I cannot believe how angry I am, in a slow-burn coal seam fire kind of way. I've been raised to be a victim and a supply in my instincts, habits, compulsions, orientation, thoughts, self-concept and it has had a comprehensive impact on the events of my adult life. And like waking from a nightmare to a nightmare, I look around and realize I'm working in a field heavily populated with narcissists as a staffer to them. And yeah I'm real, real mad.

Anyway, sometimes even when you see through them in various elements that isn't enough, especially when they are vulnerable as is my N, who is in a wheelchair and has a chronic illness. But of course, it is through that vulnerability that the tyranny increases too. I'm sure readers here can imagine.

Just venting really. This is a great blog.

At 1:44 PM, Blogger puglette said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 4:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My father was an N too. I am 55. My younger sister is an N. My mother had a phobia of facing facts.

I feel ashamed that I was loyal to my family for all those years. My father never said a good word about anyone except his (almost certainly) narcissitic mother.

Yet, when some other relatives who had his number began to make fun of the ass, I protected him by letting them know that they were getting in trouble with me by spoofing the old fool.

Why did I do that? My father had an assault weapon for a mouth that he committed character assassination with daily. I eventually learned not to believe most of it myself, but I made nothing of it. I knew he was going around saying belittling and lying about people in every bar in town. But what did I do about it? I looked the other way and did not one thing to oppose the damage he was doing to other people. By just continuing to associate with him and winking at all this, and "honoring" such a father, did I not aid him in getting away with living a lie and doing so much harm to everyone whose life he contaminated?

Should I have been surprised then to learn that the moment it was to his advantage he would trash my good name as lightly as he trashed anyone else's?

Yes, I am fair with myself about this. I understand that I was raised to this. But this enabling was wrong. And I do feel shame for it. In my twenties, I should have cut ties with my family. For the same reason as Jesus of Nazareth said was a special case for divorce: indecent conduct. Because you SHOULD NOT associate in a supportive relationship with one who wrongs others. Because you then share in the spoils of the N's stolen reputation.

I am on no guilt tricp about this. I have paid the price. But I am honest with myself about it, so I do have this regret.

At 9:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Kathy!
...know what I did?
Vented my anger PUBLICLY.
On a message board, no less.
Took the narcissist who I paid excellent money to show me some basics in the field I needed help in, and lit into him like the a**hole he is, PUBLICLY, making certain that no-one would miss it.
Unmitigated blood lust, which felt perfectly acceptable to me. Still does, although it took a while to forgive myself.
A year.
My advice to human beings in general?
Look guys, we have been conditioned to believe that "nice girls and boys don't fight back."
To quote miss K: "Baloney."
I used to feel so ashamed and freaked out by what I had done, but now I am glad. Glad as the day is long that my courage and audacity, the self-love lost to me at the hands of my "friends" (losers) returned spit-and-polish to its rightful place within because I allowed myself to puke THEIR disorder right back onto the abusers.
As I have said in another comment, "it's messy and I don't recommend it..." it takes balls as big as yer head; but in the final analysis I have this to say for the "vengeance" I took:


remember people:
Just adore you, Ms Thing. Keep writing!!!!
xo GG

At 9:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds crazy, but my mom and I have just figured out recently that my sister is a narcissist! I'm 34, and sis is 30. That's how good she's been all these years - I am so angry, I could vomit.
Our dad was also a narcissist, so she learned well.
How could I not have seen it? I feel so incredibly stupid for believing all her lies. She abused my mother verbally for years, but with me, the abuse was even more insidious - she was the perfect sister to my face - and then she would call my mother and rip me to shreds. Anything was fair game - my marriage, my friends, my hair, my weight, my clothes, my job, whatever. And of course, what mother is going to tell her other daughter how hateful the other is being?
The latest episode was the final straw. Not only did my mom and I finally compare notes after all these years (my sister ripped my mother to shreds on the phone with me, then would phone my mother and rip me apart), but I discovered she was trying to meddle in my marriage and destroy my reputation.
I am not speaking to her right now, and the funny thing is, she doesn't even realize it. Anytime she calls, she's so busy talking about herself and griping about everyone and everything in her life she hardly hears a word I say. I'm just done with her. It turns out I've been duped into thinking I had a relationship with a sister I loved very much, but who apparently doesn't feel the same.
After growing up with a narcissistic father, it is so hard to believe I didn't see this!!!
Thank you for this site - I've read other posts and I don't feel like I'm insane anymore.

At 12:52 PM, Blogger Kathy K said...

9:05 AM,

If it's any comfort, you aren't the first person who ever did that, and you won't be the last. I bet the great majority of narcissits's siblings do the same thing.

Insofar as it's a failure to be honest with yourself and face facts, it won't hurt to learn the lesson.

But it is also largely due to the good nature in you. We all tend to (mistakenly) think others are like us. Hensce the honest are blind-sided by what liars others can be, and liars doubt everything everybody says, to the point of ridiculousness.

It's also partly due to the wierd rules of engagement a narcissist establishes in his home.

So, don't be too mad at yourself. You can cut yourself some slack I think. After all, it's it better to be betrayed by your good qualities than your bad ones? If you weren't full of goodwill yourself, you never would have been fooled.

At 8:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your kind comments, Kathy. And you're right...have I ever learned a lesson!!!
I suppose I'm most apprehensive about upcoming events. My sis the narcissist is expecting her first child, and called my mother the other day (after abusing her for a couple of weeks) and said she hoped mom and I were going to put on a baby shower for her!!
At this point I can't even do Thanksgiving, much less a baby shower.

At 8:38 AM, Anonymous Clare Barrett said...

Hi all narcissistic victims, I had been in denial all my life that my small family of a twin sister and a mother were both narcissists, then at the beginning of this year at 26 yrs of age I finally had the courage to tell my mother who had psychologically, mentally and sexually abused me (not physical) that I was now aware of everything she had done to me even though to the outside world she seemed like the perfect mother. My sister has treated me like a human punch bag since we were little even though I adored her, I decided enough was enough, the pair of them made me feel like I was piggy in the middle constantly. I had coucilling for six months which I am still occasionally attending to help with the depression and loss of two people I loved dearly but who unfortunately didnt love me back. Now I am trying to get on with my life the best way I know how by feeling deeply alone at times and very angry that it is impossible to have a relationship with two people I care so much about, even though I have a good relationship with my live-in lover, there is a huge piece missing from my life that I am going to have to learn to live with. I guess I was just unlucky!!!

At 11:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a narcissitic mother, who I have not spoken to for 7 years. Probably the best years of my life. On a very serious note, it is not just the pyschological damage the parent does, but the problems they cause with other family members.

Recently I was diagnosed with a life threatening illness and decided I would try and build bridges (not with my mother) but with other family members. I decided to try and explain my side of the story. This is just a short extract from an email I received from my Aunty in response.

"Whether the subject of your emails was directed at family, Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, I was horrified at the vilification. It is depressing to realise that you and your family have relocated only to take all your emotional baggage with you. So please, until you can find some solution to your ongoing problems, from a health point of view, I think that it would be as well if I have no further contact.

If being the victim of a narcissitic parent is not bad enough, to be discredited about the abuse is really adding insult to injury.

I found your article spot on in every aspect. The reason we located to another country is because the narcissitic parent will never leave you alone. When they cannot directly have control of you, they will look to discredit you to family and friends. I hate having to feel that I should defend myself.

It is frightening how clever and manipulative these people are.

At 8:24 AM, Blogger Kathy said...

Let me take a wild guess and say this same person listened eagerly to your mother's vilification of you, time and again.

Actually, that isn't a wild guess. I will bet the farm that it's exactly what happened. How do I know? Do I have a crystal ball? No. That's just typical.

The N commits character assassination by stealth, by hints and innuendo and by sugaring it over. In other words, the N does it like a snake would. Your aunt finds it quite palable when seasoned to seem like what it ain't so she can pretend she's not doing something wrong by listening to it.

But when you defend yourself honestly and forthrightly, she doesn't like that. That's too honest for her, because she wants people to think she doesn't like hearing bad things about others. So, if you're going to tell her bad things about others, you must preserve her deniability by doing it like a snake does.

As I said, typical - of hypocrites.

So, shame on you for not being a snake about like your mother and for doing it to defend, not attack, and for the telling truth instead of lies. Naughty, naughty.

You aunt's acting job of being "horrified" really makes me suspicious that she is guilty as sin. That's gobbing make-up on to cover something.

Most people would just not answer you if they wanted to discourage you from contacting them.

But she had to put it on real thick that she is "horrified" by badmouthing of people = dissimulation.

There are the good, the bad, and the ugly. The last most numerous by far. And N's exploit the hypocrisy of the ugly to get away with murder forever.

Frankly, I don't know who is more detestible. The N at least is greatly tempted; the people like this don't have that excuse. They are just what one N I used to know called "sludge" - "dirt cheap sludge."

At 5:56 PM, Blogger Writer in Washington said...

Hi, Kathy:

I realize that I still have huge anger issues, at my Nmom, at my husband's N-ex and Nkids. What happened to me is that it all came crashing down on me in a relatively short time. My SD was caught doing the underhanded e-mail and slander routine. She moved in with Mom and increased her activity. Stupid family and former friends listened to her and lost their relationships with us as a result. Then my N-Mom started a slander campaign against us, too. Funny how they are always the misunderstood victims, or as my SD claimed "suddenly the Father that she used to be extremely close to (a lie in itself) didn't want anything to do with her." The problem is that there isn't anyone to talk to about the outrage and anger that I feel. They don't understand or they have bought into the lie that if a kid acts badly it has to be the parent's fault. Either way, I always end up as the bad guy because I refuse to allow those people access to my life or to welcome them into my home.

What you suggest, going away by myself, may be the best solution. That and blogs like your's and Anna's. I can't tell you how much it has helped me to know that I AM NOT ALONE!

At 6:00 PM, Blogger Writer in Washington said...

PS: The uncle that performed my wedding, when I tried to tell him about what had transpired with my mother, wrote back and copied her and said that we should just forgive each other.

I was furious and wrote back that it wasn't going to happen, I'd told her I would cut-off relationship with her and I did.

I still don't trust him, although I realize that he was not acting out of bad motives. He was just parroting the wrong teachings he'd had all of his life.

At 6:59 AM, Blogger Kathy said...

Writer in Washington,

I wish I could take your anger away, because it is pain for a normal person. But i know I can't. All I can say is that it will pass. In fact, if there are outstanding issues of justice to take care of, someday you will have to fire yourself up (like Hamlet - O, what a lilly-livered rogue am I!) to revisit the emotion so as to motivate yourself to take advantage of a chance to right that wrong. Can you imagine?

Probably not, right now.

Ns are responsible for a world of this very real suffereing through the anger they cause. They should have to pay for that pain and suffering. They are far more culpable than someone who ran a stop sign and caused an auto accident.


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