Many survivors of childhood narcissistic abuse grow up showing virtually no anger. Even when they have valid reasons for being angry, they don’t show anger, in particular anger at their abusers.
Rather than get in touch with their anger, they often stuff it deep down inside & make excuses for their abusers. “If only I hadn’t done…” “It’s not his fault, he had a bad childhood.” “She was right, & I’m oversensitive. I always have been.”
Sometimes, abused children grow up depressed. They aren’t necessarily depressed though. They may be incredibly angry about the traumas they endured. Repressed anger can manifest as depression.
Anger really is a scary thing when you’ve never been allowed to express it, & even more when you were shamed for feeling anger by your parent. The only anger that was allowed in the home where I grew up was my mother’s. If I showed even a bit of frustration let alone anger, she shamed me for having “that Bailey temper.” It took me until well into my 30’s before I could express any anger at all, & into my 40’s before I got comfortable with it.
Anger really isn’t a bad thing at all, Dear Reader. I know so many people say it is, Christians in particular, but it truly isn’t. Anger is simply an emotion & emotions are from God. Would He give a bad gift?! Matthew 7:11 “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (NIV)
What is bad about anger is when you do bad things with it. You shouldn’t let your anger motivate you to get revenge, for example. Romans 12:19 “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” (NIV)
What is good about anger is it can let you know when you’re being mistreated. If someone treats you well, you won’t feel anger, but let that person steal from you for example, & you WILL feel anger!
Anger also can motivate you to make positive changes. No one ever started a diet who was happy with the state of their body. They started it because they were fed up with not wearing a smaller size, getting winded walking up the steps or because they were having health problems.
So how can you learn to feel & express your anger in a healthy way?
You need to accept that you have the right to be angry sometimes. Every single living being has the right to feel anger about some things, & that includes you. Hiding it as a child was no doubt a very useful survival skill, but you’re not that child anymore. You are an adult who has every right to feel it & express it in healthy ways. Remind yourself of that & do so often.
You also need to gain a good understanding of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It helps in so many ways, but one way that helps you is because you understand projection. A narcissist who shames you for being angry or having a bad temper is simply projecting their bad temper or anger issues onto you. Their cruel comments are absolutely no reflection on you.
You need to recognize that you have the right to be angry at your abuser(s). During the abuse, you obviously couldn’t show your anger. Now that the abuse is done, get angry! Let out all that old anger you stuffed inside you for so long! It’s hurting you physically & emotionally to hold it in so let it out. It’s long overdue! It’ll help to free you of shame, guilt & feeling worthless to do so.
**I’m not saying that by getting angry at your abusive parents you need to confront them. That is entirely your decision. All I am saying is you need to feel & express that anger.**
Everyone has ways to deal with anger that work for them, & you need to do the same. You can journal, get a punching bag, punch pillows, yell when home alone… there are all kinds of different ways you can cope.
Don’t think that if you decide to forgive your abusive parents, the anger will vanish. I made that mistake early in my healing, & thought there was something really wrong with me for still feeling angry with my parents after deciding to forgive them. I didn’t realize that deciding to forgive them wouldn’t make all the anger I felt magically disappear. I believe forgiving & getting rid of anger are two separate things. At least they have been for me. I make the decision to forgive those who have done me wrong immediately, but even so, it takes time to work through & release the anger.