Q&A Tuesday

Dear Kim: How Do I Deal With The Anger From What the Narcissist Did to Me? – Part II of the Healing Series

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This is a common question for victims who have gone through Narcissistic abuse.  However, contrary to popular belief, anger isn’t an emotion that we should try to stuff down into the dark recesses of our minds.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of.  The acknowledgement and acceptance of anger is the first step toward processing it effectively. In fact, if we repress anger it can lead to serious mental health issues, manifest into physical symptoms, and cause us to lash out at the people we love.

With that being said, Narcissistic abuse is a catalyst for anger and rage, as well.  There is a point in the relationship where you realized everything about your relationship was a lie and you were used, manipulated, degraded, and shamed.  All the love, devotion, and forgiveness you gave to the Narcissist were not only taken for granted, they eventually mocked you for these sentiments.  It’s almost enough to make you loathe yourself for being a good person, and is partly why anger towards the Narcissist is the hardest to overcome.

There are many angles to consider when beating the anger demon.  Working through the rage entails finding multiple strategies that allow us to understand, express, and channel it safely. The following is not a comprehensive list, but it’s a strong start.

1)      Emotional/Anger Addiction – Are you re-abusing yourself? Could you be addicted to being angry, resentful, and/or fearful?  When we come out of a Narcissistic relationship, we are often addicted to “victim” peptides that were released into our bodies throughout the relationship with our abuser.  The way it works is this:

When we experience emotions, the hypothalamus produces peptides that reflect every emotion we experience.  These peptides find their way to the appropriate receptors located in our cells.  One cell can have thousands of receptors and each receptor accepts a particular chemical.  When the peptide locks itself into a receptor it can alter the nucleus of the cell and bring about physical manifestations of an emotion.  If the peptide for anger were released and received it can alter the cell to the point of creating anger, rage, and fear.

Over time, we develop a tolerance for these peptides.  We need more and more of them to maintain homeostasis.  When our relationship with the Narcissist comes to an abrupt end, we go into withdrawal.  Often, what we believe is anger towards the Narcissist is actually our physiological/subconscious attempt to re-abuse ourselves in order to keep the flow of victim peptides flowing at an “acceptable” level.

What to Do:  In order to overcome your body’s addiction to victim peptides, you’ll need to rewire your programming.  Every time you feel the need to re-abuse yourself by obsessing about what the Narcissist did to you, consciously stop yourself.  This can be achieved any number of ways including: Putting a rubber band on your wrist and snapping it when you have an obsessive thought, writing the thought down on a piece of paper and then crumpling it up and throwing it away, and replacing the negative thought with a positive one.  I also have many helpful suggestions in my post, Narc Recovery Boot Camp.  If these methods don’t work after persistent effort, you’ll need to schedule an appointment with a qualified therapist because it’s possible that your anger may have reached a state of neurosis.

2)      Misdirected Anger:  A lot of our anger feels as if it’s directed towards the Narcissist, but in many cases, we are actually projecting our anger towards ourselves onto them.

It may be difficult to admit, but there was a point in our relationship when we realized the Narcissist wouldn’t change.  Yet, we kept going through the same motions expecting a different outcome.  We continued giving the relationship our all thinking perhaps the Narcissist would finally come to their senses and acknowledge the pain they inflicted upon us.  However, Narcissists have absolutely NO boundaries.  In fact, they aren’t even aware of the concept.  They are completely self-serving with no capacity to reflect on how their actions affect others.  Expecting otherwise is like expecting a crocodile to learn the basics of social etiquette.  On that note, can we get angry at the crocodile for eating a baby duckling?  No, it’s horrendous, but that’s the crocodile’s nature.  And so it is with Narcissists.

What To Do:  Accept your part in the relationship and work on self-forgiveness.  There may be some very deep, subconscious dynamics that kept you in the relationship with your abuser, possibly dating back to childhood.  See my post, 10 Lies We Mistake for Love, to see if it resonates with you.

3)      Healing Shame – What feels like anger may be your subconscious mind trying to process feelings of shame.  It is the inner experience of being “not wanted.”, feeling worthless, rejected, and cast-out.  Please see Robert Caldwell’s article, Healing Shame, to understand how shame binds us and how to begin to free yourself.

Healing from emotional abuse takes effort.  While it’s easy to fall into destructive behaviors, such as substance and alcohol abuse, those things will only worsen your feelings of depression and hopelessness.  In the meantime, don’t confide in people who haven’t shown any compassion in the past.  Try to seek support groups in your area or contact your local Domestic Violence center.  These venues will offer you a constructive outlet while you process your feelings of anger.

(See Part I of the Healing series here.)

Do you have a burning question about your partner’s dubious behaviors?  Submit them to [email protected] and your question will be entered into our database and possibly included in a future publication. 

No Contact Coaching & Mentoring services are available.  Click here to learn more.

© Kim Saeed and Let Me Reach, 2016

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LJ says May 20, 2015

Kim, How does one heal from being mind raped or exploited by a Narc? I feel so ashamed, hurt, devastated to be so stupid to fall for lines. To think someone was my friend or actually cared and then lies, cheats, steals, destroys. Why would someone project being decent, sane, nice and then do a 180? In my mind, I still feel very sorry for this person. This person doesn’t realize how he damages his own self by acting all grandiose to cover up insecurities and always to compete and win at the expense of himself and everyone. Thank you! LJ

tanusiingh says December 7, 2014

If your spouse is narcissist you can move on, but what if your mother is a narcissist, how to deal with it?
Please reply.

Calendula says October 6, 2014

Part of me wants to agree, but part of me warns me to purposely hang on to the anger.

That isn’t to say to keep the pain. Only the anger. Otherwise me and people in my situation are destined to repeat the same insidious roles with new partners over and over. No, no and NO.

If I keep the anger, it reminds my not to fall prey to bullies at work, old roles within my dysfunctional family, and especially, not to repeat this experience with another N partner!

Keeping the the anger reminds me to make healthy self growth choices with healthy mutually respecting people.

To shed the meek, non-self. Yes. To shed to hurt, the shame, the self-hate, yes. But let me keep the anger.

    Kim Saeed says October 20, 2014

    Calendula, I can relate to where you are coming from, though holding onto anger usually results in physical symptoms.

    In my experience, those who have become targets of a Narcissist are codependent. The best way to overcome being taken advantage of going forward is to overcome codependent behaviors, which includes setting healthy, mutually beneficial boundaries in relationships (romantic and otherwise). This might result in the loss of certain relationships, but is the best thing for your healing.

    Another concern about holding onto anger is that it might prevent one from developing a healthy relationship down the road with a potentially loving partner.

emergingfromthedarknight says May 8, 2014

Kim thanks for addressing the anger issue which is huge. I do feel a large part of the anger is with ourselves to a degree for hanging in and thinking if we just tried harder or agreed to their demands things would change and we would receive the love they can’t really give. Also anger that cant be validated in response to what the narcissist does (they seem to evoke it then shame you for having it ie. the syndrome where they step on your toe and when you scream out act as if you have attacked them for daring to have a response to being hurt).

We can only recover by taking responsibility for our own emotional well being and health. To a degree I believed the deepest abandonment I suffered in my relationship was self abandonment for when we abandon ourselves we are hurting ourselves. We have to give up our denial categorically for if we choose to stay with someone who is hurting us we are not loving ourselves… and without that any love from others wont truly heal us.. so we must take responsibility.

Also its no use remaining addicted to anger which happens when we don’t choose to let go and move on. Then re-sentment recycles as anger we send back into ourselves over what others did which ends up hurting us. But we still need to recognise the anger is legitimate and is a message from the self to take action. A great book the helped me in this (and I read a lot of them) was Beverly Engel’s Honour Your Anger.
Thank you for another fantastic blog and for being a true light in the dark

lesleyatwork says May 5, 2014

hello Kim, thank you for your wonderful website. you have, quite simply helped me back to sanity. like many others mine is a long and complicated story of emotional and physical abuse which was not only directed at me but toward 3 of my 4 children also. one of my daughters was I recognise now … another supply who worshipped her father, agreed with everything etc etc. so she never was subjected to the horrendous abuse we all were. sadly also she never ever stood up for any of us when her father was in full throttle mode! fast forward 3 years and I am divorced and trying to build a new life, the estranged children, grown up didn’t speak to their father and I was dealing with the financial fallout of all the previous years ….. leaving, coming back, having no money, women’s aid, too long to explain. just everything that is involved when you leave this type if relationship. the problem I’m finding really difficult to deal with now is that my ex is hoovering and bombing his way back into our lives. I’ve managed to keep my distance as such but he is making himself available to my children for anything they need done. time is not a healer and time is his weapon. he actually acts as if nothing ever happened. that he was arrested and convicted of domestic abuse, that he was responsible for me losing my much loved family home….. and much much more!! how can I deal with this Kim? I feel angry at my children for allowing him ‘ back in’ to our lives. he has a key to her house so he can help do the garden and things that need done( we bought this house together) as it’s a new house there is loads needing done and of course she doesn’t have endless pot of money so her father just keeps buying! he is hanging on to the house keys and appears as and when he likes but always with something he’s bought for the house or that he is going to do in the house! I find it all unbearable! can you please write a wee post about how best to deal with this kind of situation. I’m sorry if this is a bit if a ramble and hope you can make sense of it. thank you again Kim for such a wonderful site. regards lesley


    Kim Saeed says May 6, 2014

    Lesley, I understand your reluctance for him to be in your lives. However, if your children were emotionally abused when they were young, they are trying to get the love from him that they never had when they were children. Childhood trauma can have a lasting impact on us. I would suggest letting your children have the freedom to live this experience. The outcome is out of anyone’s hands, meaning whether they get resolution for the past, or end up learning a hard lesson…is something that needs to transpire naturally. Then, they can make their own decisions about whether they want him in their lives or not. If you try to persuade them into casting him out, they might end up being resentful about it. I know you are afraid that your children might get hurt, but this is one of those cases where we need to stand aside and let things happen as they may. Right now, they are feeling elements of safety and closure. I hope it will last for them…

    In the meantime, if you’re feeling stressed about it, I would recommend doing guided meditations and aromatherapy. If your stress seems unbearable, you might want to consider seeing a therapist. You could have some unresolved issues yourself from the past abuse.

    Please feel free to reach out if you have any further questions…

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