After years of living with false guilt, fear, and repressed anger, it is common to unleash a torrent of rage and regret at what has happened to you. The tears of anger and sorrow intermix as the truth is faced. After all that has been said and done to deny the truth of your abuse, when it is finally faced, it hurts. The fresh pain produces even more anger.
Anger can be a cleansing emotion. It is focused and intense. It has a way of motivating normally uncomfortable actions. When we are angry, we are apt to do things we would never consider doing otherwise. Anger is powerful. It can make us feel strong and invincible.
- Because anger is so focused, its beam is narrow.
- Because anger is so intense, it needs fuel to burn.
- Because anger is so powerful, it can become addictive.
When dealing with your emotional abuse, it may be easy to view things with tunnel vision. All you may see is the pain and damage of the abuse. You may not see some of the reasons behind it. Nothing can explain it away.
Some people have the distinct misfortune of coming into contact with truly evil people who abuse them in terrible ways. Most of the rest of you have been abused by people who meant better than what they did, who tried less than what they should, who should have known better but didn’t.
If you were abused by your parent, one reason behind the abuse may very well be that your parent had been abused. Abuse breeds abuse in a cyclical nature. If you find yourself being abusive of other people, that should help you understand how your own abuse was possible. But being angry or engaging in blame over abuse you suffered, or self-blame for abuse you are responsible for, will only detract from your healing.
Anger may have the power to cleanse, but continued anger blocks healing. Maintaining your sense of outrage and resentment toward the unfairness of life and toward those who abused you keeps you in bondage to that blaming mode. The anger ceases to cleanse and starts to control. In order for the anger to continue, you must constantly feed the fire, reliving and re-experiencing the anger and rage, thus stoking the fires of blame.
You can’t maintain the fire without blame — blaming yourself for the abuse you have received; blaming yourself for the abuse you have given; blaming others for both. This fire of blame will consume you. That is why it is so important for you to get out of the blame mode. You can do that by trying to understand your abuser. So often abuse occurs because of faulty parenting patterns, without malicious intent. Abuse also can happen when an adult simply forgets what it means to be a child, when a parent stops taking time to view the world from three feet high.
Sometimes abuse occurs and it really has nothing to do with you — it just happens to you. The other person is tired, careless, stressed, distracted, moody, or any number of things. Every single one of us has felt this way and acted toward others in this way. Every single one of us is to blame for something.
Sometimes abuse occurs because the other person is weak. They know what they should do but just do not have the strength, courage, or motivation to do it. When we are in a relationship with other people, we want them to be strong enough to overcome their weaknesses so they can love us as they should. If only our desire for their strength could somehow infuse them with that strength! But this rarely happens. Blame will not strengthen them into suddenly overcoming their weaknesses. Instead, blame causes them to become weaker still, further undercutting any motivation or strength they may have to change. Blame gets you nowhere but backwards.
Getting past blame helps you get past the abuse and get on with your life. You get out of blame mode by trying to understand what was really behind your abuse. Was the other person evil? If your abuser was truly evil, blaming him or her will have little negative effect on the abuser and a greater negative effect on you. Constant blame will only allow the abuser to continue to hurt you more, because it keeps you stuck in the abuse cycle.
Blame continues the cycle. Forgiveness ends it.
Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 35 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others. If you are struggling with emotional exhaustion, The Center is here to help.