Anger is often seen as something which should be repressed. However, acknowledging and safely expressing your anger is healthy especially if you have been the victim of narcissistic abuse.
When you are recovering from narcissistic abuse there are various reasons you should make friends with your anger. Your anger is an important emotion that you need to acknowledge and embrace. Anger helps you to understand what you will and will not accept. It helps you to push appropriately for what you need.
Anger tells you something important
Your anger tells you something important namely that you need to defend yourself or stand firm. Anger gives you the surge in energy necessary to defend yourself. If you feel angry pay attention because something is up and you have been mistreated in some way. Do not immediately run away from and try to suppress your anger.
Doubting the legitimacy of your anger is exploited by abusers
Abusive people will try to confuse the situation and move the attention away from whatever it is they have done onto your angry reaction thereby dodging responsibility. This only works if you already believe that your anger is bad and you buy into it.
Abusive people play to your aversion to expressing anger by acting offended or shocked over even minor displays of anger sending you into a tail spin of self-doubt. If someone reacts very badly to even minor displays of anger or tries to switch the focus back onto you then pay attention they may be manipulators. This form of control works by triggering your shame and abandonment fears. Think whether it was safe to express anger in your past. Was it safe or were you shamed and punished? If so then this is what you unconsciously expect when you express your anger in the present and you will be vulnerable to a manipulator inviting you to feel ashamed and back down.
Depending on whether you have more of an active rather than a passive style you may get even more angry about not being listened to. Since you are already feeling uncomfortable about being angry in the first place this makes an emotional outburst more likely. This gives a manipulator the opportunity to further dump shame on you making you the bad person.
Not accepting your own anger gives an abuser permission to keep engaging in whatever abusive behaviour you have tried to confront them about either by inviting you to back down or by pushing you into “acting like the crazy one”.
Being unable to feel anger about past abuse is a symptom of the trauma bond to your abuser
Being able to feel anger about past abuse is a key indicator that you are beginning to recover. For a long time rather than feeling angry towards your abuser you feel ashamed of yourself and feel bad for your abuser. You are holding the shame that should be theirs and they are holding the anger that should be yours.
The anger of an abuser is not really anger it is more like desire
In my experience the “anger” of an abuser does not arise from the abuser feeling vulnerable or like they need to protect themselves. The anger of an abuser is instrumental in nature more like the aggression a predator feels towards a prey animal. This type of “anger” is more like desire in nature. Its objective is that you are “captured” such that you submit to their dominance. Experts do differ on this point. This view that the abuser is acting with intentionality is consistent with the battering interpretation of abusive behaviour. Some people believe that the projection of anger and shame from abuser to abused and vice-versa is an unconscious process known as “projective identification”. In my experience I do not believe this to be true. Indeed, in my view, this interpretation is dangerous as it views the abuser acting defensively and being unaware of what they are doing which in my experience is simply not the case.
We all want to be at peace and free of conflict. Being a calm and peaceful person is something to aspire to. However, paradoxically this state of being can only begin to truly manifest if we allow for and acknowledge all of our feelings including parts of ourselves that we find ugly, distasteful or frightening and instinctively try to run away from. Disowning any part of ourselves including those parts that we typically view as bad such as anger results in a state of tension and being separated from ourselves. When we are in alignment with ourselves and trust ourselves to take care of us, then we can truly begin to let go and surrender to what is. Anger will no longer overtake us. It will act to alert us to what is bad for us in our environment giving us both a signal and the energy to take appropriate action. We won’t be invited to back down inappropriately which gives room for resentment to arise and leaves us in a state of reactivity to the actions of others. Likewise by embracing anger we will be less vulnerable to over-reacting when others invite us to feel ashamed about our anger because we will be unwilling to try to suppress any of our feelings and will more easily recognise this move as an abusive ploy used by manipulators to shift the blame back onto us.