H. Angry L. T.
Years ago in Al-Anon, I learned that it is almost impossible to be at my best if I am Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and/or Tired. I discovered that I could HALT myself, take a breather, and remedy any of those conditions before moving on with the day. For the most part, it is good advice. The troublesome aspect of being Angry with someone who believed I had no right to be angry plagued me.
He ignored my anger or met it with escalating anger of his own; there was no peaceful conflict resolution in my marriage. There was quite a bit of stuffing anger down deep inside because it did no good to express it to the one person who could help resolve it. There was also quite a bit of yelling and crying on my behalf, mostly directed at him but regretfully spilling out onto my children too.
I remember the panicked and heartbroken look on my children's faces when I raised my voice to them for something trivial, saw the tears sprout in those innocent eyes, and felt the guilt of doing what he did to me to them - trying, although subconsciously, to bring those sweet babies down to my emotional level so I wouldn't feel quite so alone in my pain.
When I realized what I was doing one normal, chaotic day in 2006, I sat my boys down and I told them I was sorry and that I was wrong. I promised them that I was going to fix it, and with some help from them, I did. Magically, as soon as I stopped using my children as substitutes for him, my mind began to change.
If I could control my ugliness, even when I was angry, then why couldn't he? That thought made me angrier.
I wish I could say that I stopped yelling and crying at him too, but I didn't. The war between us raged for another two years. During that time, I thought that if I could create something good in the world, research holistic medicines, be closer to God, then my anger would dissipate under all the goodness I created. It didn't work. I couldn't squash anger under the guise of being helpful.
Co-dependence was a term I ignored at this time. My strategy was only to detach myself from him (not with love, but with disgust and attempts to ignore) and try to live a life as separate as I could from him. But I didn't really separate from him. Every dig he took at me resulted in more anger. I'd smile and breathe...but the hurt and pain stayed.
The bright points about that time were that I didn't yell at my children anymore, I did create beauty in the world, and I learned to design a website from the ground up. It wasn't until I put my skills to the test and created a website about verbal abuse that I really began to deal effectively with my anger.
I began the site intending to help other people who were in my situation. I thought that I could find the roadmap that led to "making him stop" and "creating a healthy life together". That goal never materialized.
As I went through old journals dating back to the beginning of our marriage, many memories came up that I once stuffed down deep inside. I had been so good at stuffing that I didn't consciously remember one physically violent event circa 1999 - if I hadn't written it in my journal, I wouldn't remember it today. Going through the journals with fresh eyes made me feel...you guessed it...angry. I realized patterns and reviewed the hogwash I'd eventually accepted as fact about myself. I had allowed him to tell me who I was and to define my moral code.
I had completely and utterly given myself to him. I willingly allowed him to demolish me under the pretense of being his wife. That moment of realization caused me to start a new journal in the form of a blog. I wanted to record my thoughts in a place where he couldn't delete them. As I began to see the value in my old journals, I developed a fear that he would destroy them, but an online journal he couldn't destroy.
I needed to remember things exactly in order to counter (in my mind) his assertions of "that didn't happen" or "what you said was" and all the other bull that he wanted me to believe wasn't real. I wrote about my pain and anger, and low and behold, they began to give way to trusting my SELF, seeing the truth, and gaining strength.
In order to halt verbal abuse, you must give yourself a true outlet for your anger. Your anger is not wrong or petty or unfounded. What you feel is rightous anger - you have a right to be angry at the person who abuses you, and you have a right to express your anger in constructive ways.
Go eat if you're hungry, call a friend if you're lonely, get a good night's rest or take a nap if you're tired. Above all, consider the knot of anger in your belly and find a way to unravel it that does not involve the abusive person's opinion of your anger. Let it out constructively without hiding anger under anything. My choice was a journal. What is your road map to freedom?
Jo, K. (2011, March 24). H. Angry L. T., HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, December 1 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2011/03/h-angry-l-t
Author: Kellie Jo Holly
H.A.L.T. is a healthy technique for everyone, not just people in recovery or in Al-Anon. Journaling is another great technique for recognizing what's happening in your life. Breathing techniques are another way to help you stay or get calm, reduce your anger, help you maintain your own cool when someone else is losing theirs. I do a combination of setting my intention, deep breathing, yoga, meditation and journailing for 30 minutes every morning. It feels great!
Thanks for sharing your article.
K Rosenthal PhD, RN
Your a awesome brave and vibrant women to me and I am blessed to read your own personal ride that you experienced with your situation, but for me it centers me in a way that I need. Keep Trucking Little Sister!