How to let go of anger?
posted by DeltaForce to Human Relations (38 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Almost a year ago, I asked this question: http://ask.metafilter.com/193136/How-to-cope-with-being-hated-by-inlaws
Things have greatly improved. My SO has definitely stood his ground and we've moved into our own apartment.
The issue is that I still, occasionally, will experience a great deal of anger. SO's mother has backed down and things have calmed down (in the sense that she mostly ignores me now, a step up from being attacked), but it doesn't change the fact that she is a mean, hurtful, and untrustworthy person.
I have many examples of her unacceptable behavior, and SO agrees with me. He's disappointed that his mother cannot be more...reasonable, I suppose, because it puts a distance between them. She calls him, hugs him when she sees him, and of course is very vocal in her opinions of what he should and shouldn't do, but he's told me he doesn't feel close to her. And she appears oblivious to that fact. When we see her, she goes on as if everyone should do what she says. Which is sad, for him and for me. I wish things could be more pleasant.
In any case, I am still really angry. I keep it to myself, after all, there's nothing that can be done. I keep thinking of all of the times I felt powerless. That's the thing that is most upsetting. Usually when someone treats me poorly, I can say something, call them out on it, talk about it. In this situation, I can't because that's just how the dynamic worked. She was deceitful and petty, and bashed me behind my back, and I expressed my hurt to my SO and he did the best he could to mitigate it.
This evening I was thinking about an incident that happened involving one of my cats. She's always made it clear that she didn't like that we had cats, but I told her from the beginning that I was going to have cats, and that if that was a dealbreaker for her, then I would not be able to rent from her.
Anyway, she came over to the house that we were renting from her. I heard a cat wail like I've never heard before and when I asked what happened, she replied "It stepped on my foot." I went into the other room and saw one of my adult cats there and just assumed that she was the one who got stepped on because I didn't see any other cat around (we have three.) I comforted that cat and SO's mother watched.
A couple weeks later, she accused me of having a "conniption" over the cat and said that it was funny that I was comforting the wrong cat. That, in fact, the cat she had actually stepped on was my 6 week old kitten who went to hide. When I heard this, I just didn't know what to say. And now, of course, I'm thinking about what I should have said. Instead of standing there flabbergasted, I should have said, "What would you have done if I hurt one of your dogs so hard it yelped (which by the way, I would never do on purpose, and if I did accidentally, would feel awful about)? Have some compassion. What you did was not only petty, it was downright lousy."
I have countless experiences like this. Thankfully, I only see her about once a month, and when we do see each other, I maintain a respectful distance, letting SO handle the bulk of the socializing.
SO agrees that the incident with the cat was shitty and childish, but I don't think he feels as strongly about it as I do. It's one thing to call me names, to bash me behind my back to my partner and my mother, but this? Really? This, among other instances, just makes my blood boil.
I have a hard time living with disagreement. So one of my coping mechanisms is the adage, "If you can't beat them, join them," and I find myself trying to be okay with her behavior, because that releases the tension. But I don't think I should have to do that.
So after all that, the question is:
How can I let go of my anger without condoning the behavior that makes me angry? How can I let go of my desire to one day just really give her a piece of my mind?