Oh…this again

I’ve mentioned before that the one recurring issue in my otherwise healthy and good relationship is that my husband can’t deal with my anger or irritation very well.

Yesterday and the day before, I was uncharacteristically just in kind of a grumpy, irritable mood. He said it seemed similar to PMS, which is what it felt like to me, too. My hormones are kinda out of whack as I go through this whole perimenopause thing.

I apologized to him repeatedly about taking out my grumpy mood on him. And to be fair, he’s on chemo right now, which makes him feel extra crappy. I tried bringing him a drink he wanted from the bubble tea place as kind of an apology and a peace offering, which seemed to be received well.

But the fact of the matter remains that he doesn’t seem to want me to ever express any frustrations about anything, which I just don’t think is realistic or healthy. I get that it seems to trigger something in him that makes him feel unsafe, and I’m very sympathetic to that. And to be clear, at least from my recollection, I wasn’t yelling or name-calling, just venting my frustrations.

I don’t really know what to do next, to be honest. I’ve brought up the idea of therapy before and he seems pretty uninterested. I suggested he try micro-dosing and he said that he has so much suppressed rage that he’s scared that doing so would be a danger to himself and others.

I deeply believe that years of suppressed rage contributed to his cancer diagnosis (that and chronic lack of sleep.) He’s a good man and I love him. But at the same time, I feel like I have to walk on eggshells, suppressing normal and probably appropriate emotional reactions of my own, and I don’t think that’s right.

It’s one thing for him to suppress his own emotional reactions but quite another to ask me to do the same. Again, to be clear, I think I kept my expression of frustration to an appropriate level. But it seemed clear that he didn’t want me to be feeling that way at all and that he took it as both inappropriate and threatening somehow.

Normal relationships should have room for appropriately-expressed venting every once in a while. He even admitted that he couldn’t remember the last time I was in such a mood, so it’s clear that we don’t have a high-conflict relationship and I’m not usually an angry person. To be honest, I’m usually pretty chill. I also feel like we haven’t shown the kids how to deal with anger in a healthy way, which is a skill they need to have.

But I see his admission of his “suppressed rage” as a bigger problem. I don’t think it will go away if he keeps trying to ignore it. And if he wants me to only be happy all the time, well, that may be somewhat impossible with the hormonal shifts I’m experiencing.

It just seems like this could be an opportunity to learn how to express anger and frustration more appropriately and it feels like he doesn’t even want to try. He just wants to shove it down deeper.

6 Comments

  1. Much sympathy. I have my own suppressed anger, and I’ve an alter who holds the rage I could not feel. Therapy definitely helps but since he’s resistant… I’m wondering what exactly is he fearful of? For me it was because I’d only seen anger and frustration expressed in abusive ways, so I had to learn feeling an emotion doesn’t mean I’ll inevitably abuse others. I also am highly attuned to even the mildest frustration expressed around (not even to) me, and again it was related to my experiences of abuse where calm from parents could just instantly explode into rage.

    Therapy is great but since that’s not an option, maybe some psychoeducation articles? “The school of life” has a lot of good articles.

    And your theory on suppressed emotional affecting physical health is spot on. Dr Gabor Mate has done research on it and its true.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I’m slowly making my way through “When the Body Says No” and I know that that the connection between repressed emotions (especially anger) and disease is very significant.

      He says he’s not resistant to therapy because he made one appointment with the psych dept at the hospital (which he missed due to an error and never followed up on.) He also correctly points out that I haven’t had great experiences with therapists, and says that he is going to deal with it his own way at some vague point in the future through meditation, so, yeah…I guess it is what it is.

      I think a lot of it is similar to your experience, that he doesn’t know how to express anger in a healthy way and is scared of it. The problem is that he’s also scared of others expressing it too, just because he associates it so strongly with the abuse he suffered growing up. Even if it’s me expressing the anger, for example, and the expression is nothing like the abuse he suffered, it triggers similar reactions in him.

      The thing is that this affects our kids, too, because they’ve never seen a healthy way to express anger modeled for them. I try to talk to them on my own about anger and acknowledge when I think they’re feeling it, so I hope that will help. Amy has been through a lot of therapy and has a good grasp on how to handle it. Adam hasn’t started therapy yet but will be (hopefully soon) and will be seeing the same therapist Amy did, so I hope she’ll help.

      Dylan is the most like his dad in almost every way and I worry that he also suppresses a lot of his emotions. (For example, he was 12 when he witnessed Adam get hit by a car, which I’m certain was traumatic for him, but if I bring it up, he always just says he’s fine and it didn’t affect him.) But the good thing is that I talk to him the most out of all the kids and encourage him to talk to me about his worries, which he does. And I’ve explicitly told him that I worry because of how much he’s like his dad, particularly regarding suppressing emotions, and he assures me that he’s working on it. I’ve seen a lot of growth in him in this regard, so I’m hopeful.

      The thing that I find so sad is that it seems fairly likely that my husband will die before ever dealing with any of that suppressed rage and I just wish so much better for him. 😞 I agree about reading being really helpful as an adjunct to or even substitute for therapy. I have come a very, very long way from who I used to be (and my husband would agree with that) and most of it has been through reading and self-reflection.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hugs. Meditation can help but with all powerful things, it’s not harmless. Sometimes people fall into “dark night of the soul” which can be very painful. Bring up their trauma etc.

    In my country, Buddhist teachers are careful with students because of the risks as part of their spiritual journey.

    https://www.learnreligions.com/buddhist-meditation-and-the-dark-night-449760

    I get afraid of expressions of anger too, and I’ve had to learn to uncouple from my abuse history. Can he notice he’s activated / triggered and sit with the fear and not do anything or doing something grounding? Kind of like mindful meditation but for big emotions.

    Not easy to practice but a necessary step to build his capacity to tolerate distressing emotions. So he can tolerate the distress and still have his front brain online to be able to recognise your frustration isn’t being expressed in a harmful way and it’s different from his past experiences. And it’s hard even with a therapist omg. There’s self help though.

    I’ve benefited a lot from DBT distress tolerance and it incorporated mindfulness.

    https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/distress-tolerance/

    You’re a solid parent – just in case you doubt yourself. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I don’t know if he’s ever been triggered as part of meditation but that’s good to keep on watch.

      I also don’t know if he’s able to notice when he’s triggered or activated and sit with the fear.

      I’ve also done a lot of DBT work and have found it useful for decreasing my distress tolerance. Quite a bit, actually.

      And thanks for the reminder that I’m a good parent. ❤️ Sometimes I beat myself up quite a bit for spending so many years not acknowledging that my kids were getting unhealthy messages about anger. All I can do is try to make it right now.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. DBT distress tolerance is pretty dang good yay.

        Ultimately with J, he’s got to choose his own path although yeah, I definitely see how he could benefit from therapy.

        About the children, yep, you’re doing what you can to try and make things right, and that in itself is powerful for them. As they can see and learn it’s never to late to grow, and that it’s worthwhile.

        Like

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