This scenario may sound somewhat familiar to you..
Growing up, my mother often accused me of having “that Bailey temper”. I could be slightly frustrated or very angry for a valid reason, & it didn’t matter. She would criticize my terrible “Bailey temper” in a very shaming tone of voice. (interestingly, she now uses this phrase with my father). The result was I began to stuff my anger inside. I refused to show anger on the outside, no matter how valid a reason I had for feeling that way. It was easier, or so I thought, to stuff my angry feelings deep down inside than to hear her berating, critical, shaming words.
As a result, I almost never showed it to anyone, no matter how valid my reasons for the anger were. It’s only in recent years I’ve stopped squelching my anger & been learning to vent it in healthy ways. By doing this, I’ve also learned that I really don’t have a bad temper at all. It takes a lot to make me angry & when I am angry, I never scream, rage or destroy things.
So why did my mother accuse me of having such a terrible temper as a child?
I believe she did the exact same thing that many narcissistic parents do- she projected her own shortcomings onto me. Narcissists are angry people. They get angry when they aren’t treated as reverently as they feel they should be treated, praised as highly as they believe they deserve, or acknowledged to be the most special, amazing, talented, attractive people in the universe. They also are angry when they aren’t blindly obeyed, when people don’t believe their lies or people do healthy things such as set boundaries with them or even end their relationship with the narcissist.
Narcissists can’t handle any bad quality (real or perceived) in themselves, so they project that bad quality onto other people. Accusing someone else of that bad quality allows them to get mad about the flaw while not accepting any responsibility for having it. It’s a very common tactic of narcissists, especially with their own children or spouse.
In addition to projection, victims of narcissists can be angry people, too. How can you not be angry at the unfairness of the relationship with a narcissist? They are selfish to the max, they couldn’t care less about you other than what you can do for them & they criticize every single little thing about you. These things are hard to handle in any relationship, but when it is your own mother doing it, that seems to make it even worse. Mothers are supposed to be loving, caring, gentle, protective & all around wonderful, yet here is your mother abusing you at every turn. If that doesn’t make a person angry, I don’t know what would!
To add insult to injury, you aren’t allowed to express your anger to the narcissist, because she can’t handle any criticism, nor will she accept responsibility for what she has done. Instead, she will turn it around, blaming you for having a vivid imagination since that even never happened, or if you wouldn’t have done *fill in the blank,* then she wouldn’t have had to “discipline” you so harshly. So, now you have someone who not only is abused, but told they are the cause for the abuse. Again, if that doesn’t make a person angry, what will?!
Anger is a nasty side effect of narcissistic abuse. It can be scary, because after so many years of stifling anger, once it starts to come out, we can be afraid of losing control. It can feel like now that it’s out, it’s going to be out permanently- you’ll be angry forever. Thank God though that is not the case!
Anger is a natural emotion just like all of the others people experience. I know it can be hard at first, but try not to fear it. Anger can be dealt with in a healthy way, & you need to learn how to do that.
Keeping a journal or talking to safe people about your feelings are very good ways to help manage your anger. Telling God all about it is an even better way to deal with it. And, say, “I feel angry because..” as it helps to validate your feelings to yourself. Your feelings have been invalidated long enough- they deserve validation & recognition, especially by you!
I have written letters that I never sent when I was really angry. I let it all out in those letters too- bad language, name calling, whatever I felt. Sometimes I saved them, but usually I just burned them. I found something healing in watching them go up in smoke.
Always remember that your feelings are valid. There is a reason you are feeling angry! People don’t just get angry for no obvious reason.
Forgive when you feel able to do so. Don’t let other people criticize your faith in God or your Christian walk by accusing you of being cruel & unforgiving. Forgiveness is a wonderful thing- it releases the power the other person has over you. But, rushing it never works out well. You have to forgive when you are ready, with help from God, to completely forgive.
If you are considering discussing your feelings with your narcissistic mother, before you do it, pray. Lots! Narcissists don’t hear the other person’s valid points when confronted- instead they get defensive & shift blame. That being said, for some people, telling their narcissistic mother how they feel can be a good thing. They feel better just getting their feelings out to her. I’m different- it makes me feel worse to have my mother invalidate me & fail to take any responsibility for her actions yet again, so I almost never confront her. You need to be absolutely certain of how you are, & do what feels right to you.
And lastly, stop stifling your anger! I know, old habits die hard, so this isn’t an easy thing to do. However, it’s not healthy! Not physically or mentally healthy. Besides, emotions demand to be dealt with- stifling them only postpones that, it doesn’t stop it. It is much better to face things as they come up rather than once they’ve been sitting deep inside, growing & morphing into something bigger & harder to deal with.