In my earlier post, The Honest Truth About Your Partner’s Anger Issues, I talked about how to tell the difference between abusive anger and healthy anger. If you haven’t read that make sure you do because it will help you understand that there is such a thing as healthy, honest anger which deepens intimacy in loving relationships.
In a healthy relationship, you would with your partner, be able to express your feelings openly. You would say what bothers you about what is going on or what happened. If it got too heated, you’d take time out, go for a walk, focus on your breathing, and agree to meet again at another time to work through the issues. Suppressed anger wouldn’t feature.
When you can manage conflict, you meet each other’s basic core needs. You’re both saying, “I accept you for who you are. I appreciate your point of view. I am willing to pay attention to you.”
Anger Is A Dangerous Tool
In narcissistic and emotionally abusive relationships, anger is a tool used to control and silence you.
Maybe you find yourself avoiding conflict and not expressing anger in your relationship because it doesn’t feel safe. So you keep quiet. You bite your tongue and stuff your anger back inside you so that the relationship survives.
Your silence will not protect you. Audre Lorde
Some women protest that they are very vocal, saying “I pushed back.” or “I told him.” or something else similar. But usually in these cases what they are silent about is the actual hurt and pain that they are feeling. What comes out is a list of instructions and complaints.
Either way, there is a silencing of the self.
Or if you do find your voice there is so much suppressed anger that you become sarcastic, tell double-edged jokes at your partners’ expense, blame, tease, keep bringing up old resentments or explode.
Anger The Emotion
Anger is a normal human emotion. ‘E-motion’ is energy moving in the body. It needs to be processed and moved through you. If not, it stays trapped and expresses itself anyway. The body speaks. You become ill, stressed or depressed. Women are especially vulnerable to this; I imagine because of societal pressure and internalised expectations about behaviour.
Maybe the body says “No” to sex with your partner; you can’t access that erotic energy anymore. Or perhaps you have an affair. Suppressed anger is embodied.
When you silence yourself or feel silenced, eventually you become angrier and angrier. Holding onto anger is like eating poison and expecting the other person to fall ill. Your unconscious anger becomes self-destructive.
What Did You Call Me?
Generally speaking for women in an emotionally abusive relationship, feeling anger is a double edge sword.
Society still has a view of women and what it means to be feminine; to be the ‘good wife’, the caring one, the nice girl, the calm one, the maternal one. When you express your anger, you’re shamed and named as a bitch, hostile, crazy, mad, unhinged, unstable, delusional, sensitive, aggressive or masculine.
Your abusive partner adds to the narrative by projecting their anger onto you. When your anger is in response to the abuse, they label you as the one with anger issues, not them.
But feeling anger is a signal that you are feeling disrespected, sad, lonely, unheard, unseen, used, abused, guilty, rejected or shamed. Suppressed anger is a sign that other feelings are suppressed too.
Even though you might not be fully aware of the emotional control, you will have feelings about the criticisms, the blame, lack of encouragement and abandonment.
Healthy anger emerges for a reason. It is a signal to say “No” and set boundaries to protect yourself. Bethany Webster says the word “No” is an expression of individuality and separateness, the very attributes the controlling person wants to thwart.
Many little girls missed the chance to say “No” without experiencing loss or rejection as a consequence. As adults, learning to set healthy, strong boundaries is part of stepping into our full individuation. “No” is a muscle that must be strengthened through the practice of actively expressing our truth and through refraining from resolving tension for others.
You are entitled to your anger and to be able to express it in a non-abusive way. But what’s happening is either you are stuffing it down or spuing it out like projectile vomiting.
The Power of The Goddess
Your power is in recognising and embracing your anger. To express it healthily you need to know it exists.
Harriet Lerner explains that angry feelings are neither good or bad; they just are. Ultimately it’s about leveraging that anger and letting it be of service to you to create constructive and positive things in your life.
The Goddess honours her anger. The Goddess knows suppressed anger keeps her trapped.
Anger doesn’t have to be out of control. Lyssa is the Greek Goddess of rage, but she also knew how to be tempered and measured with it.
Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean. Maya Angelou
Sekhmet is the Egyptian Goddess of the sun, war, destruction, plagues and healing. Depicted with a lions head, she is one of the oldest deities and one of the most powerful. Vowing to destroy all humanity in a fit of rage, she went on a killing spree.
Eventually, she was stopped by the intervention of Ra, the high God, who put vast vats of beer mixed with pomegranate juice in her path. The point here is not about alcohol; it’s about knowing that your anger too will pass. Like all emotions, anger comes, and it goes.
Sekhmet appears in your life to help you face your anger. Sekhmet lets you know that your anger is part of your power as women.
Anger Does Not Arrive Without Reason.
Anger is the messenger from the soul that something in your life needs to be addressed, and that transformation of self or situation must take place.
On the other hand, there are also times when you need to honour the act of moving away from anger. In cases of abuse, the partner who rages at you is harmful. You look after yourself by getting away from the situation.
Just as you would not want to be in the path of Sekhmet intent on destruction, neither do you want to be in someone else’s path which is intent upon damaging themselves and you.
Honour Your Power
In a controlling relationship, it’s easy to lose sight of your power and strengths. If you could embrace the power of Lyssa or Sekhmet within you, how would your life look?
Frequently women are fearful that their power will destroy them; that it’s too much. That belief is likely to have deeper childhood roots, which today are triggered by your controlling partner.
How would it be to get curious about the Goddess within you?
Over to You
What is your relationship with anger? If you want a safe space to understand, talk and figure out what’s going on with your suppressed anger, or other feelings get in touch and book your first counselling appointment.
Or call me today on 07535 864836.
Leave a comment below; I’d love to hear from you.
P.S. PASS IT ON
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* Domestic abuse affects men and women. This post refers to women as in my counselling practice, I work predominately with women and specialise in women’s issues. If to need specialist support urgently to deal with what you’re experiencing, or help you to find a way out if you want that: please call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.
© Sandra Harewood 2019
Soul Centred couples counsellor Sandra Harewood specialises in working with couples and women with childhood wounding that impacts their adult relationships. Sandra provides a soulful space for her clients to explore and discover creative solutions to their difficulties and create a great relationship.