I'm living in an angry breakup song. How do I press stop?
November 17, 2010 2:35 PM   Subscribe

I'm living in an angry breakup song. How do I press stop?

My boyfriend of two years broke it off with me, in a really, really bad and ugly way, leaving me with a seriously complicated personal and financial situation to deal with. He's bipolar and I think he's going through an extremelly euphoric phase. Thing is, I don't care. I don't even feel like I know him anymore. I just feel very, very angry, and I don't know how to deal with it. I deleted him off of all things digital. I want him far away from my life, I want to not hear from him, or be reminded that he still breathes. I have never felt this way in my life before, and I'm 32. When in such situations, I tend to be melancholic, sad, pensive, I tend to cry and feel a bit sorry for myself, and take some of the blame and mull over what I might have done wrong. But this time I just feel like taking a baseball to his car (not that I ever would, but I feel like it). It's been only a couple of weeks, but, again, in my personal experience, I'm still pretty tearful at that stage... Not at all like this.

Why is this? How do I deal with it? Will there come a time the anger turns into something else? Something else better and not so consuming? is there any way I can take advantage of this feeling and turn it into something positive for myself? Seriously, help. Kelis on repeat is freaking the neighbours out already.
posted by neblina_matinal to Human Relations (21 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The main thing now is to feel that anger. its okay, it sucks, but it is real. supressing it is your enemy. When it comes, let it come.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:37 PM on November 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

I just feel like taking a baseball to his car

Are there any handball courts or something like that near you? When I feel like that, I find it is very therapeutic to throw a tennis ball (or similar ball that bounces) against a wall over and over. Sometimes it can be very cathartic to act on that kind of physical urge in a powerful (but nonviolent) way.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:42 PM on November 17, 2010

Feeling this way is ok, and normal. Remind yourself when you are feeling emotional that you're ok, and it is alright to feel exactly the way you do, right now. In terms of getting over it

- try to find ways to be active. Go for a brisk walk, every day. Go to the gym and get your heart pumping.

- find ways to take care of yourself in small ways. Wear fuzzy socks. Get some of the moisturizer that is a little expensive, but always makes your hands feel great. Buy some of the cheese that you usually only bring to parties. (Fill in the blank, but all the little indulgences that you normally wouldn't do. Act as if you were taking care of a sick friend - what would you do for them to show you loved them?)

- go out and do things with people. Join a hiking club, or a board game group, or anything that gets you out of your house (and out of your head) and being active in some way.
posted by arnicae at 2:44 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sounds like its time for a bonfire party. You and your friends. Plenty of beer, food, wood and accelerants. Be safe!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:04 PM on November 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Kickboxing classes at the gym. Or Bodycombat. Etc. Anything that channels that anger and aggression for your own good and catharsis.

If anything, try viewing him as a pathetic and pitiable creature-- I find that searching for some compassion for the loser actually helps. He's the lowlife, who sucks too much to try and make a change, and isn't that SAD? That poor psycho jerk-- doomed to a lifetime of instability and failed relationships. (Shrugs, moves on.)

Feeling sorry for someone is the best way to get over them, IMO. I mean, it's sad how screwed-up he is, but start seeing it as HIS problem and not yours anymore, thus he's someone you can pity. In my experience, it takes away the power they still hold over you.
posted by egeanin at 3:05 PM on November 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Go hit things. Go sweat. Acknowledge the anger healthily, by drinking too much and screaming at random people about what a total piece of shit that miserable loser is. WAIT! That's not what I meant to say. What I meant to say is go play some tennis or hit a heavy bag or work it out in a positive way by constructing an elaborate life-size voodoo doll of that twisted little headfucker and then burying it up to its neck and running over it with a lawnmower. NO NO NO. Dammit. Lemme try again. It's important to claim that anger, to really own it and express it honestly. It's a normal part of the process of getting dumped by a two-bit tool who needs to be dropped from a skyscraper into a pool of rabid weasels.

Get it out, let it go. Do whatever YOU need to do for YOU. DON'T MOPE. GO DO.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:15 PM on November 17, 2010 [14 favorites]

Anger is basically energy. Don't burn it off, channel it.

So, whatever self-improvement you want to do, let this propel you into it. Fuck that guy -- that is why you're going to join the gym, start that club, apply for that fellowship, take those classes, start that business, go on that round-the-world trip, move off the grid to build a commune, and generally become the most kick-ass version of yourself living the highest version of your dreams, so that you will ultimately meet someone who is just as truly awesome as you are, and not at all like that jerk loser. Eventually you'll forget about him but you'll still be living your dreams. Use your anger as fuel to leave him far behind as you move onward and upward.
posted by salvia at 3:15 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I absolutely feel for you, I had a similar experience with an ex and I know exactly what you mean about the anger being all-consuming, I've never felt anything like that before or since. I think some of it came from stuff I'd been enraged about before the break-up, suppressed because I loved the idiot but then let loose in spectacular fashion once I'd stopped excusing him. The pain was expected, but the anger really shocked me. I felt unhinged.

I have to say I did a lot of screaming and raging (into pillows, on my own!) but I also managed to channel the energy into maintaining a level of grace and focus in public I'd had no idea I even possessed. I cut him off completely and threw myself into activities that I never did with him, music, climbing, making new friends etc - and I drove a lot. Motion helped. Writing it out was enormously therapeutic too. And a reckless harmless fling helped a fair bit. What also helped was a dear friend telling me she knew exactly what I was going through and that it would pass. I didn't believe her at the time but it gave me something to hang on to.

Now, five years on, I can say it was a huge period of growth. It took a long time to let the anger go - but it did. It's completely natural but you will come through it, and you'll probably find you've gained some strength as a result. In the meantime be gentle with yourself and don't be scared to lean on friends if it gets a bit much. You're in the middle of the emotional hurricane and for a time it generates it's own energy - but it will drop. Hugs to you.
posted by freya_lamb at 3:16 PM on November 17, 2010

Best answer: Anger is a great thing! It's a sign that you're approaching this from a position of confidence and power - "how dare he do this to me!", rather than a position of self-negativity, "what's wrong with me that he would do this! how will I ever survive! woe is me! nobody will ever like me again!"

You are allowed to be angry when people treat you badly. It's good if it gives you the energy to resolve the situation in some way. Maybe that's by standing up to the guy in any remaining disputes over money or housing or whatever. Maybe that's by taking yourself to boxing classes, getting fit, starting your own business, dying your hair Pillarbox Red and having a wild fling with someone completely improbable.

Either way, stick a fork in him by being your awesome self as awesomely as possible.
posted by emilyw at 3:35 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Take a brick.

Take a three-pound sledge.

Go to a street or alley made of concrete.

Hit the brick. Hit the smallest of the pieces it breaks into. Hit the smallest of *those* pieces. Etc., until you have dust. Then work back up until you have to switch arms.

Continue until you feel like petting dogs or whatever.

Every time you feel the rage burning, do this with the remnants (you will not get very far in turning the brick into dust).

I know this seems like the answer to more acute anger, but damn if repeated applications of this method don't make you more mellow in general.
posted by notsnot at 3:39 PM on November 17, 2010

I've found that what helps quiet my mind when I am angry at someone is to forgive them no matter what. It stops the cycle of inner chatter. Once you've forgiven, what else is there to say or be angry about? This, after a little self-wallowing and anger-releasing activities (pick one or two of from preceding posts), of course. Good luck.
posted by serunding at 3:54 PM on November 17, 2010

i can't tell you how much rilo kiley's "are we breaking up" (and heck, even this homemade video of it) helped me through a heartbreaking, infurating breakup. most affirmative/moving-on/happy times/all-major-chords heartbreak song ever!!
posted by crawfo at 4:06 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

What would you feel like doing if you had just dodged an actual bullet?
posted by rhizome at 4:13 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Anger is a totally normal reaction with a breakup -- others have said that "yay you're approaching this from a place of power", and that is true. Fair warning, too, that you may also down the road feel the sadness you usually feel, and that TOO is normal. You feel what you feel, and the best thing is to not talk yourself out of feeling it. (I also had a similarly out-of-character "where the fuck did HE get off" reaction to a breakup once, and LOVED it - I took it as precisely that sign of "I'm not doing my usual kicking-myself thing" strength. And I still went through a blue period, but by that point I was strong enough to acknowledge that it was also a normal reaction.)

(Also, writing to an online advice columnist about him being a dick post-breakup and having her side with me was encouraging, but now I'm just being petty.)

As for what to do with the anger -- I also agree channeling it somewhere vigorous is wise. Others have suggested exercise; but, you mention that you've been listening to angry music, have you tried "playing along"? This is the time for air guitar and serious dancing. I did this with other angry situations -- my younger brother probably owes his life to the fact that I went to my room and played air drums to the song I Don't Care Anymore when he pissed me off. (One time I got so into it by pounding on a pillow lying on my lap that I ended up bruising my legs through the pillow.)

Hell, enact an elaborate fantasy in which you are the backup singer for whomever - or you're a rock star yourself -- and your ex comes by as one of the potential groupies and the security goons hold him down so you can stomp on his face. Anything active.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:49 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I deep clean or do heavy physical labor (like moving furniture).

I think it's more productive than smashing things, and...things get so clean!
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:24 PM on November 17, 2010

I had a boyfriend who cheated on me and took the other girl on a date with baseball tickets my dad bought for us (I couldn't make the game because I had finals so he took the other girl)... Anyhoo I was really, really angry and so I just put on my running shoes, turned up the music as loud as I could and I ran and ran and ran every day...it made me feel better and look better which is always great when you're looking for a new sweetie;)
posted by bananafish at 12:10 AM on November 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you all for the advice. Definitely the best thing to do is to take the energy from the anger and turn it into something positive for me. I just came back from a good long run, my first in a long time, and it didn't hurt even half of what first runs usually do. And that's pretty damn cool. The music helped, too.

There are many things I need to do at this point, some are good, many are boring, difficult and painful, and almost all of them make me want to make that lifesize voodoo doll, so I need all the energy I can get. Those things aren't easy to make.

In the end, though, I will survive.
posted by neblina_matinal at 3:32 AM on November 18, 2010

OP, sounds like you've got things heading in a good, positive direction with your anger. Maybe now's the time to sign up for an organized run? a 5K? They're long but not brutal, and finishing it will feel super euphoric and satisfying.

Also, music recs:
Rage Against The Machine, in general, but I highly recommend Killing In the Name Of (NSFW- lots of F-words)
Bullet in The Head is also good. Both are on iTunes.

Beastie Boys and Nine Inch Nails also hit the spot.

Also- what have you been listening to that's angry and motivational? (No matter my emotional state, it's my favorite workout music.)
posted by SaharaRose at 5:28 AM on November 18, 2010

I really love smashing beer bottles behind a 7-11 when I feel like that.
posted by WeekendJen at 10:13 AM on November 18, 2010

Something else that smashes really well is ice. Teenaged me threw a lot of ice cubes against the side of the house.
posted by aimedwander at 12:26 PM on November 18, 2010

Oh, man, I hear you loud and clear. Been there. When my ex of 14 years took up with another woman, left me for her, and then deliberately deceived me and got away with my share of the money from the sale of our house (over $50K), I was absolutely livid. Whatever mistakes I may have made in that relationship, I conducted myself with dignity, fairness and good faith, and I did not deserve what he did to me.

The pain was intense enough as it was, but man, that level of betrayal and what it stirred up in me..."seeing red" didn't even begin to cover it. People who haven't been through something similar have no idea. Rage stirred in my gut - the kind of vengeful, hateful, bitter rage that I had never before dreamed I could feel, especially toward someone I once loved with all my heart. Like freya_lamb's situation above, in my case there had been anger simmering underneath the surface for a long time, and that only fueled the rage-fire after the betrayal had taken place.

To add to the burden, I found myself struggling with fears that I would never feel attractive, datable or lovable again, because I was too angry and bitter and burdened with divorce-related psychological baggage. And it was his fucking fault. Meanwhile, he was off romping in some flower patch with his new flame, on my dime. (Or so I told myself. I actually have no idea what happened after that, because I cut him out of my life completely, along with everyone who called him a friend. One of the best decisions I ever made). Sometimes I would get through the day by trying to convince myself that karma really is a bitch, as the saying goes, therefore he's in line to get his comeuppance someday. But I'm not really sure I believe that.

In any case, for all that it cost me - and it cost me a lot; I'm still paying the price, financially and emotionally, to this day - it did, nonetheless, leave behind some unexpected gifts. My self-image changed in ways I'm still uncovering, years after the fact. I survived it and lived to tell the tale. I found a kind of resilience I didn't know I had. I have even gone on to find love again, which I appreciate in a whole new way. The experience also gave me an enduring sense of compassion for people who are going through bitter, nightmarish divorces/breakups. Before it happened to me, I might have been more judgmental or sanctimonious.

Knowing that this experience might teach me important life lessons and make me stronger was damn cold comfort when I was in the thick of it, though. It sounded like nothing but a bunch of new-age hooey. I didn't want life lessons! I just wanted what was rightfully and legally mine, and I wanted justice to be done. Unfortunately, justice was never done.

So, as others have said above...you feel what you feel, and that is normal and okay; you can't reason your way out of it. Try to let it serve you and propel you forward to a better life. Do your best to use the anger as fuel - as motivation to build a better, stronger, wiser you. It might also help to engage in some kind of cathartic ritual. For me, this involved burying my wedding ring in the forest, dancing around a (symbolic) bonfire, and giving away things my ex had given me. Figure out what might be cathartic for you, and do that.

Oh, and I recommend that you read Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion by Carol Tavris.

Hang in there. It'll take time, but you sound strong; I know you can get through this. And yes, if you persevere, there will come a day when your anger is not so all-consuming. I promise. I'll be rooting for you! Best of luck.
posted by velvet winter at 1:22 AM on November 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

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