There was a very long time in my life when I could not get angry. Even the things that should have made me angry, I shrugged off, ignored, or, most often, let pass deep inside of me, where I stuffed down the feelings, bottled them up, and sealed them inside of what I thought was a vault but, instead, turned out to be a pressure cooker.
There was a time when I saw rage and I fundamentally didn't understand it. I had moments when I felt what I thought was rage, and the first, and only time, I experienced intimate partner violence, my partner hit me and it triggered undiagnosed PTSD and I "redded out." The rage came on so explosively and suddenly that I had no memory of the time from when he hit me to when I came back to myself, sitting on top of him and smashing his face into the floor while crying. That was in 1995.
Since then, I have learned to let myself feel anger. In general, I now am able to get angry, address the source of the anger directly and then let it go. I have never held grudges, and I don't understand people that do. If I am in community with you, and you piss me off, then it is an act of love to confront you about your behavior (or be confronted) and then give or be given the opportunity to make amends and change the source of the behavior that triggered the anger.
It's been a long time since I felt rage. But I have been dealing with it, intensely, traumatically, shamefully and hurtfully for over a month now.
This is how it happened.
I was, I don't know what to call it, in some sort of intense friendship with someone that was fast becoming a relationship. To all outsiders, it looked as if we were in a relationship. On the inside, it felt like a relationship. The love was there, and it was intense. There was also a whole lot of hurt from relationships that we each had that had recently ended. We attempted to put on the brakes in a number of ways, but things still progressed. Certain committments were made, and so I moved forward, knowing that hurt was possible but truly believing that what this other had said was true. Until it wasn't true anymore.
Here is where I made my grand mistake. Instead of simply letting myself feel the anger that was obviously present at our break up that wasn't a break up and setting firm boundaries and excising the anger and hurt in a healthy way, I instead stuffed it down, let sadness take over. I knew better. It would have been healthier, right, and just for him and for him if I had just been honest with my anger and walked away then.
Its what the people around me told me I should do. I didn't listen. I was in love, and I didn't want to lose him. I thought it would be temporary. I still believed the things he had said. And I was believing the things he was still saying after the relationship adjustment. Except he wasn't in a place or space to be honest with himself in any way about where he was at in relationship to me or anything else. I am a smart human being and very little escapes my notice...its a survival technique....I kept in allowing myself to be yo-yo-ed. I was fighting him to want me and every time I had to go to war to get him to admit his feelings...a little more anger built up. Every time an I love you left his mouth and yet he pulled further away, a little more anger built up, and yet I kept sticking around. I kept trying to figure out how to be friends, how to console, how to be supportive yet stick to my own truth.
On Christmas eve all that ended in an explosion of rage. There had been one other rageful "text message" moment previous to this, but on Christmas eve my rage came out, it came hard, and it was directed at him. I set firm boundaries, to which he agreed. For about a week and a half all that worked out.
Until I had to see him again on a regular basis. And then all the angry and hurful things that I wanted to say...all of the things I wanted to verbally scissor into him so he would at least show some emotion and at best feel as hurt, wounded, and shitty as I feel gorged up in my throat every time I saw him. I couldn't sleep again. I had dreams in which I said all that I needed to say, and more than once on more than one occassion I woke up in the middle of the night and wrote out all of those things in a text message only to set it aside and delete it come morning.
I didn't find a way to excise the rage and so it continued to build, until last night, after copious wine and several cocktails I wrote and sent the text messages. Crueler. Meaner. Harsher. And more destructive than any I had written and deleted.
There was truth in them but it was truth meant to hurt as much as possible. It was ugly. It was rude. It was the dark side of the mirror that exists inside of all of us, and it is not who I am. It is not who I want to be. I have been hurt by words. I had been hurt by people I love, with intention, and I have made a committment to never spout that verbal poison out at someone I love.
And I did it. And it is shameful. I don't feel guilty about it. I feel shame about it. Shame is much much much worse.
Did the truth need to be told...yes...but not to him...to me. My rage and my anger are mine to hold and mine to excise. I did last night what I should have done six weeks ago. I deleted his phone number from my phone. I sent an email apologizing for my behavior. I am taking two weeks off of drinking to evaluate what that means and if it is something I need to look more deeply at (it isn't an excuse for my action only an enabler). But I believe in making amends and not just apologizing, so I am going to look at that. And, truth be told, since the break up that was not a break up...I have been using both alcohol and sex as ways to avoid dealing with how I really feel. Unhealthy combinations of both that have kept me off balance, in crisis, away from my feelings, and damaging in all sorts of combinations. That ends now as well.
I have come to a clear understanding that not only can I not have him as a part of my life, I don't want him, anytime soon, to be a part of it...because of the trust lost but also because I can't have him in my life and have it be healthy in anyway right now. I love him enough to not want to hurt him and I love myself enough to let myself be hurt by him anymore. And because there is still rage, I can't trust myself either to make the best choices. Not until the rage is gone. Not until I figure out how to let it go. Not until I learn how to forgive him and not until I learn how to forgive myself.