Help me stop the hate
October 28, 2019 8:20 AM   Subscribe

I'm new to rage, what happens next?

(read past questions if you are interested in more detail)

For a number of years now I have been involved in a poly relationship with a married couple, who are also my oldest friends, and a 4th party, who eventually became my partner.

Around a year ago things blew up and the married couple pulled away and my partner and I pulled away but stayed together. The four of us were mostly ok socially together and I assumed everything would be fine eventually.

About a month ago I received a text from my partner informing me that our relationship was over, two weeks after that I found out she is with the husband of the other couple again. I have also now learned the amount of disrespect, lying and emotional dishonesty that was going on.

My main focus currently (and the focus of the few other friends aware of the situation) is to get the wife of this married couple as far away from her husband and my ex as possible, it's an extremely toxic situation but if things go according to plan we will have her moved in with other friends this week.

I am trying to deal, I think I am doing it right, I have therapy, I deleted all their contact info, I am staying off of social media, I have tons of friends who are being amazing at reaching out and dragging me off the couch, I am seriously blessed.

However I am currently struggling with an endlessly burning white-hot rage, I am not an angry person, I'm usually referred to as the sleepy bear or gentle giant, I can honestly say I have never really been angry before, at least not like this. My stomach hurts 24/7 and I exist in a near constant state of rage. I cannot go back to the bleeding ulcers and puking blood from when I was a teen who couldn't deal with anything yet this feels exactly like that. I don't want to feel anything, I have no interest in anything but leaving this all behind and making sure my friend is ok and supported. How can I stop this rage and the constant pain of this burning stomach?
posted by Twinge to Human Relations (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I can honestly say I have never really been angry before, at least not like this. My stomach hurts 24/7 and I exist in a near constant state of rage. I cannot go back to the bleeding ulcers and puking blood from when I was a teen who couldn't deal with anything yet this feels exactly like that.

I don't intend to be gender reductionist but have you considered that this is a more culturally proscribed projection of grief/sadness/hurt or other more vulnerable feelings? I would explore this particular question with my therapist.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:34 AM on October 28 [1 favorite]


Don't get me wrong, the grief/sadness/hurt emotions are present as well, I'm just familiar enough with those that they aren't scaring me.
posted by Twinge at 8:37 AM on October 28 [3 favorites]


My first thought is to wonder whether you should really be involved in the issue of your exes' marriage at all. Part of this is a COI sort of problem (you can't possibly be unbiased here) but the greater part, I think, is self-preservation. If there's truly something very wrong in that marriage, it sounds like there are other people who can and should be and are pitching in to offer support. It would be better for you to spend your energy establishing and maintaining good boundaries... which in this case I think means remaining no contact with all three exes and asking your mutual friends not to discuss their situation with you.
posted by eirias at 8:38 AM on October 28 [5 favorites]


My main focus currently (and the focus of the few other friends aware of the situation) is to get the wife of this married couple as far away from her husband and my ex as possible, it's an extremely toxic situation but if things go according to plan we will have her moved in with other friends this week.

Sorry if I have misunderstood, but does the wife of the married couple want to leave her husband and the ex? Are you even sure that husband and ex's behavior constitutes cheating by her definition as a poly person (not saying it can't, just saying you can't assume standard norms)? If you don't have reason to believe both are true, I'm not sure why you are still engaging here. It is undoubtedly helping to keep the fires fueled.
posted by praemunire at 8:39 AM on October 28 [1 favorite]


praemunire: Yes, it is/was cheating. Yes, she knows the marriage is over (he has also told her it's over) she has to leave and wants to leave, she is just having trouble actually pulling the trigger. I am hanging out with her as usual and we actually haven't discussed the issues in any sort of detail, she is getting enough of that from other friends, part of my self preservation is that I do not discuss the issue with her or anyone any more than necessary, I just offer friendship and support, we'll talk about it eventually I assume but for now we aren't ready.
posted by Twinge at 8:45 AM on October 28 [1 favorite]


Regarding dealing with the anger, I've found physical exercise very cathartic. Is there a boxing gym in your neighbourhood, or somewhere you can take kickboxing or Krav Maga classes? Worst case, I've found screaming into a pillow works in a pinch.
posted by Tamanna at 9:19 AM on October 28 [3 favorites]


I am so sorry you're going through this. I agree that your rage is totally understandable and will get better with time.

Tamanna is absolutely right about the strenuous exercise, but I would be cautious about boxing or martial arts or other sports that involve or simulate attacking. (Axe throwing? also no)

I don't think it's a good idea to associate your anger with hitting things/people.
posted by exceptinsects at 10:13 AM on October 28 [1 favorite]


endlessly burning white-hot rage

It’s not endless. These things fade with time.

Managing it until it cools to the point that your basic nature reasserts itself is "all" you need to do.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:40 AM on October 28 [6 favorites]


Journaling might help. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, nobody is going to see it but you. Do it on the computer in a Word document, or write it all out in a paper notebook. Just vent, rant, ramble and ruminate. Write "letters" to each person you'd like to tell off or pour out your feelings to (but don't send them! They are a journaling exercise only.) You can analyze and dissect the situation, what you think went wrong and why, who you think is at fault, yell at yourself too if you feel like it. Just get all that mess out on the page.

At some point you may start to find that healthier, saner words start flowing. Positive self-talk. Acceptance. Perspective. A plan to heal and move forward.

When I've done this in the past, there always comes a point where I realize I am sick of writing about this, tired of caring about this, and the idea of venting any further just seems pointless and counterproductive. This is the point where I find I am ready to begin letting it go. Sometimes it can feel good to throw your journal pages into a fire as a ritual of release (or ceremoniously delete your digital journal.)
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 12:28 PM on October 28 [1 favorite]


About a month ago I received a text from my partner informing me that our relationship was over, two weeks after that I found out she is with the husband of the other couple again. I have also now learned the amount of disrespect, lying and emotional dishonesty that was going on.
Respectfully, staying engaged with these folks is why you learned about your ex's renewed relationship with the husband and the betrayals that had happened. You said you have cut off contact via social media and such. Please make sure you are doing everything you can to limit any information you have about your ex and your old friends and what they are all up to, including...

My main focus currently (and the focus of the few other friends aware of the situation) is to get the wife of this married couple as far away from her husband and my ex as possible, it's an extremely toxic situation but if things go according to plan we will have her moved in with other friends this week.

I get it, but I think this is keeping your anger alive because it's keeping this issue front and center in your life. There are a few reasons you can back away in good faith: first, a few other friends are helping her; second, she is an adult; three, it's keeping this hurt fresh and alive for you, which is having hugely damaging repercussions for you; and four, even if you manage the anger a bit, this on-going connection will slow down your emotional recovery.

It sounds like you weren't in regular real contact with the wife during the past several months, and that contact has renewed because her husband and your ex have gotten together again (though perhaps I am misunderstanding). And so it seems likely that your interactions with the wife are triggering a few different layers of hurt: hurt from the fallout last year, and hurt from the current situation. Are you trying to save her because you feel like you can't save your ex?

Your main focus, in this current situation of emotional upheaval and chaos, should be yourself. Your relationships with these people have been causing you a lot of pain and stress for a long time. I think you are so caught in this web of interactions and connections that you are having a hard time seeing how much stepping out of it and away from it is what you need to do to start healing from a few years of emotional chaos and pain. This is the beginning of that. It's hard and awful and terrible -- but it is what you need to slog through to move forward.

A few suggestions in the meantime:
1. Don't be in touch with anyone in this quad, including the wife. I said that above but I'm emphasizing it again. That's keeping the hurt present for you. I don't think you should ever be in regular contact with your ex and the husband in the long term. Maybe you can renew a friendship with the wife, but only after some time and space away. This truly can't be emphasized enough. That means that you shouldn't hear about them from mutual friends; if they talk to you, tell them you can't engage. Shut off social media and try to limit your contact with them as much as possible. It's hard but it's the best environment for healing.
2. Journal, a lot. Write down (by hand, preferably, but your phone or a computer are fine if that's easier) all your unprocessed thoughts and reflections and feelings. Get it all out.
3. Write a letter to each of them that (and this is important!) YOU WILL NEVER SEND. Say everything you want to say. Don't do this in email or someplace you will be tempted to send it. Then tuck it away or burn it or something.
4. Exercise strenuously, whatever that looks like for you. Some kind of physical item that pushes your body will be tremendously helpful.
5. Conduct some sort of grief and closure ritual. Maybe write a letter and burn it. Or take a walk and scream on top of a hill.

There are also break-up apps that can be helpful. I used one called Mend. I'm guessing there are others.

But most important: you need to prioritize yourself and get as much distance as possible from all of these folks.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:49 PM on October 28 [11 favorites]



endlessly burning white-hot rage

It’s not endless. These things fade with time.


Sigh. Please consider that not everyone's emotions "fade." Mine don't. It's endless for me.
posted by Violet Hour at 1:06 PM on October 28 [1 favorite]


Sigh. Please consider that not everyone's emotions "fade." Mine don't. It's endless for me.

And when I'm addressing you I might say something different. But I'm speaking to the OP, who says "I am not an angry person, I'm usually referred to as the sleepy bear or gentle giant, I can honestly say I have never really been angry before."

If "endlessly burning white-hot rage" for the rest of their life was on the menu for the OP they would have discovered it long before now.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:36 PM on October 28 [14 favorites]


Your anger is proportionate to the amount of trust and love you had for these people who ultimately betrayed you. This is a wound and a trauma. I've been there and it warped my brain for a while. The way I coped with it? Trauma therapy; Cut them out of your life, and focus on people who have not and will not do this to you; Focus on continuing to be a kind, gentle person, by doing something kind for someone else who has experienced pain (but don't let that lead to solving other people's problems as that is maladaptive). It will take time to heal, as all great traumas and wounds, but if you counter it with positive human connection that demonstrates that this isn't the norm in human behavior it will be easier and the impact will not be as long lasting.

And if you're into it: shrooms can help cope with anger associated with trauma, particularly microdosing.
posted by Young Kullervo at 2:39 PM on October 28 [4 favorites]


For me, anger is an effective mask for feeling unsafe. Reminding myself that I am now an adult and can protect myself in many ways now, today, in the future, etc. does wonders.
posted by lab.beetle at 8:27 PM on October 28


Have you let yourself do any screaming into voids or pillows?

I suggest finding a safe way to bodily express the anger alone. It’s scary and uncomfortable to experience your own emotions so fully, but absolutely cathartic (in my experience) to let your deepest wounds grieve as loud as they need to.

As long as you keep up the emotional and intellectual work of processing your experiences, giving yourself a safe place to fully be angry will help take the pressure off instead of clamping down and repressing it.

An exercise I do with negative emotions—not at their peak, but when I’m ready to be done with the sharpest edges— is to peel back layers and ask why you feel X way. At the core of things, it’s often something like “I loved this person and they let me down”. And having compassion for your old, loving self, and recognizing it as part of the past can give your emotions a shorter path from rising anger, to heartfelt pain, then back to sadness.

Anger is not bad. It’s not unhealthy or evil. Your anger is legitimate and comes from events that just about everyone would find painful. As long as you don’t take it out on other people, or use it as an excuse to treat other people poorly, you can accept and explore its place in your life, which may or may not last a long time.
posted by itesser at 12:16 AM on October 29 [1 favorite]


When my husband left in a not dissimilar way, some of my rage was a way to focus how hurt I was on something else... basically a way to avoid experiencing the depth of that pain until I had some time to let things settle in.
posted by metasarah at 11:36 AM on October 30


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