Good afternoon, Dear Readers!
I just read something that said “Never remain silent if someone you suspect is being abused!” I also read something else that encouraged people to speak out against abuse by telling their stories. Something clicked in my little mind when I read both of these things…
I haven’t discussed much publicly about my relationship with my in-laws, because I didn’t want to take a chance on upsetting or embarrassing my husband. As I’ve been writing my current book about maternal narcissism, my narcissistic mother in-law & all she put me through naturally has come to mind. A lot. Even though I really hadn’t thought much about her in a long time since I stopped speaking to her in 2002.
As a result, I am very angry with her right now. Even to the point I hate her instead of feeling my usual indifference. I truly detest the feeling of hatred for anyone!! Thankfully, I know I will forgive her & it will be gone soon, but right now? Yuk.
I think silence about abuse serves so many purposes, none of which are good or healthy, & all of which only benefit the abusive person. Growing up, my mother demanded absolute silence from me regarding what she did, & if she even suspected I was telling anyone, even my father, about what she did to me, I was screamed at & berated. My mother was protected & allowed to abuse me by no one knowing what she did at home, & me acting as if all was fine so no one would be suspicious.
Something else happened during that time, too, that I just thought about today. (And yes, it does connect to my mother in-law, I haven’t forgotten!) Part of maintaining the appearance of normalcy & keeping her abuse a secret meant that I was never allowed to be angry about anything, but especially being abused. If I showed any anger, or even frustration for that matter, my mother told me I have “that Bailey temper” & shamed me for it. (Side note: my family members don’t really have bad tempers. Yes, they get angry sometimes, but doesn’t everyone?! They aren’t destructive or foolish when angry.) As a result, I learned early in my life not to get angry- to stuff those feelings down & ignore them. I have carried this dysfunctional pattern into my adult life, only getting really angry a few times & calming down pretty quickly in the twenty-years I have lived out of my parents’ home.
I realized the extent of how badly I have done this burying anger thing today. I do it without thinking about it, it’s just an automatic behavior. So much so that although my mother in-law has obviously hated & mistreated me since we met, I never got really angry with her until today. Sure, I got mad sometimes, & my husband & I fought about her, but the anger was usually short lived. It didn’t help he didn’t like me getting angry with his mother, & would get mad at me for what she did. Today I thought of some of the evil, narcissistic things she has done to me over the last 20 years I’ve known her, & for the first time, I have felt rage & even hatred for her. Somehow, I finally gave myself permission to be angry at her today. I really realized how devious & evil some of the things she has done to me are, & how I did not deserve any of them. It’s scary being angry as I’m not accustomed to it, & I’m not liking hating her. Yet at the same time, it kinda feels good to get angry for once. To realize I didn’t deserve any of her abuse, too. The anger is certainly justified- I could tell some stories that would curl your hair!- & long overdue.
The point (finally, huh? lol) is that I am willing to bet that it isn’t just me. That others of you raised by a narcissistic mother also learned early on to bury your anger, either to help create the illusion of normalcy or so your mother wasn’t “inconvenienced” with your anger. Or both. But I want to tell you today that this is NOT healthy! You have a right to be angry when maddening things happen! You have a right to be angry when you’re abused or mistreated! I like what the Message translation of the Bible says :
” Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.”
It is ok to be angry! It is NOT ok to hold in that anger or ignore it, & allow others to treat you badly. This is NOT healthy physically or mentally! It is perfectly ok to be angry sometimes, so long as you don’t sin, & you are willing to forgive your abuser/offender when you are ready to do so. I know, this isn’t popular thinking in Christian circles, but I firmly believe I am right about this topic. How does not getting angry with someone who hurts you a good thing? Not only do you end up hurting physically &/or mentally from holding in that anger, but the person learns it is acceptable behavior to hurt others.
Give yourselves permission today to be angry sometimes. It’s truly ok! God will not hate you or strike you dead for being angry with someone who has hurt you. So get angry when it is appropriate, deal with that anger accordingly, & forgive that person when you are ready & able.