So dealing with anger. Hi, I’m really struggling with anger at my husband for all of the lies he has told and things he has done. I’m trying very hard not to lash out because I know it isn’t effective. But sometimes I just feel like it’s unfair that he doesn’t get to see how angry I am. How can I resolve these feelings in a healthy way?
So first, I would say it is normal to feel angry when you’ve been betrayed by the one person who is not supposed to betray you. And I’m sorry that you’re in this position right now. I think I talk to many women who are angry and don’t know how to express it or don’t feel that it’s appropriate or don’t especially want to trigger their husband into a relapse. And that is a hard place to be, especially as women in the world who are taught that we should just be quiet and people pleasing and go along with the program and be a support. And I think that is often to the entire relationships detriment, honestly. I think there’s a difference between people pleasing and being a peacemaker. In my mind, being a peacemaker is not at the expense of your needs and feelings and desires being suppressed. Where being a people pleaser means that you have to put everything you need and want on the back burner in order to meet everyone else’s needs. And which one of those things feels like a good thing or a bad thing? And I think that we’re often taught that we just need to suck it up and just keep going.
But in this case, I really feel that it would not be a benefit to either your husband or to yourself to do that. One; you need to express it in a healthy way, obviously, right? Like you said, you want it to be in a healthy way. Feelings are neither good nor bad, they’re informative. And especially anger is we say anger is informative, not transformative. And what that means to me is that my anger is telling me something about something deeper. Something that is softer, that is harder to feel because it’s, we don’t want to be vulnerable a lot of the time, especially when we’ve been hurt.
So, I would just have questions about what you feel is really like what’s under that. For instance, if you stop and say; Okay, what is this anger trying to tell me? I feel hurt, I feel sad, I feel like I wasn’t important, I feel like my needs didn’t matter, I feel like I’m not seen or heard in my most important relationship. And then you’re able to communicate those feelings. I think that’s a really healthy thing to do.
Also think it’s important for your spouse to see that there is anger. I think it’s important for them to see that their actions have a consequence. And I’m not saying be abusive, I’m definitely not advocating for, verbal abuse or attacking someone. But I am advocating for; Hey, you know what? I really just need to tell you this has hurt me so much, like deeply to my core. It’s hard for me to trust other people now. It’s hard for me to trust myself. I don’t know when I look in your face whether it’s real or not, and that breaks the foundation of my world, for most of us. And I think they need to hear that. Sometimes I think we save people from their own consequences, but also those changes of hearts, especially for addicts, come when they see their effects on other people. And if we’re not allowing them to see the way that they’ve affected your life, then they’re missing potential huge catalysts for the change that they need to make. Otherwise, sometimes it’s just going through the motions.
And I’m saying this from a professional perspective, but also from a personal perspective as well. It’s hard, especially if, like I mentioned at the beginning, you’re afraid of triggering them into a relapse. And I think it takes a lot of concentrating on your own recovery and knowing I need to be true to myself. I need to be honest about what I’m feeling for me. Because that’s part of my recovery and I can’t worry about what they’re going to do or not do. I need to do this for me, and I’m important enough to be honest about what is affecting me or not affecting me.
So I think, once you’re able to get out of worrying about causing a relapse, it’s easier to be transparent and it gives them the opportunity to actually be there for you and make amends. What makes recovery work, as many of you may know, is connection, is the many different levels of intimacy. And part of those levels of intimacy is psychological trust honesty, which has been broken, being able to talk about feelings, being able to share hopes and dreams. And a lot of that has been taken from you. And that’s hard, that’s a hard place to be. And I feel sad, and I also know that the way to heal is to do that part together and to allow him to be there and to hear your pain and to hold you and say; I’m sorry, and I’ve messed up. And I don’t want you to hurt and because that will help this healing process.
I would also want to know for you what lashing out means, cause lashing out for you may mean something very different then to your husband. And maybe is actually a pretty appropriate expression of anger, and maybe not right? I think you can be honest enough with yourself to know this feels out of control versus something that I need him to know and something that’s important for me to say, to get out of my body, right? Like you’re storing this in your body. I would hope that you do know that when you’re feeling this anger, where is it in my body? And can I identify that and be able to look in and say what is it that I’m needing right now? What is it that’s going to help me to be able to calm myself and to look at things from a perspective that will help us to grow closer and not further away?
Something that’s called the U-turn and that’s what I would practice for you is when there’s conflict or when there’s anger. And this is from a woman named Tara Brock, I believe she has a podcast that is really good that I use along with a lot of Dr. Skinner’s stuff, it just has a kind of different way of describing it. And she calls the U-turn like to stop and reflect in. Because whenever we are having a conflict with someone else, we both have a need that’s not being met. So what is that need that’s not being met? And again, that’s one of those softer feelings underneath the anger, right? If you think of it as a volcano, like the anger is the lava coming out. But there’s so much that’s underneath it that’s softer and gushier and hot and uncomfortable. And if we can get in touch with that, then it also calms our bodies because our body knows it. We just need to acknowledge it, and then it’s like our body relaxes. So hopefully that’s helpful. Let us know if you have any other questions.