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Explosive Anger - a control tactic

Updated: Apr 3

Today I had a session with my therapist, when she asked me how I was doing, I realized the answer is really really good. For years I never could imagined the way I feel now. Completely unburdened, free both mentally and physically. It has taken a long time. Surprisingly even though I feel fantastic, there is still a lot to process and to talk about. As she said, there are a lot of layers of processing. Coming to terms with what I thought my marriage was, and what it turned out to really be. I have learned so much.

One has been coming to terms with his rage and the pattern that developed in our marriage. This is known as the “cycle of violence,” the “cycle of abuse,” or the “rage cycle” The most peak the cycle is the outburst, which may include verbal violence, physical violence, addictive behavior, or dramatic exits. In the cycle of abuse the tension slowly builds until there is an explosion of anger. An outburst can occur several times a day, or every few months. In my case it seemed to be every couple of months, getting more frequent at the end as he lost control. The outburst was followed by a period where for a short time he would become exceptionally sweet and loving. In the apparenty loving aftermath, it would feel confusing and you would wonder if you just imagioned it al, and the process of self delusion would begin. He really isn't that bad, he is a good guy, that was just a oddity. I remember often after one of these explosions I would come home to him cooking supper and a completely cleaned house (very unusual ehaviour for him) This sweet period when they seduce you back in is known the honeymoon period. It;s meant to lull you back into believing that he is a good guy and if only you do the right thng, this is the guy you get. he is a great guy except for when you make him act like that. This nice sweet guy is who he really is. (its your fault) It also is meant to keep you from leaving. The rage is meant to make you afraid to upset him, and to keep you under control. It also serves to confuse you, cause you to feel unsure and diminish your sense of self confidence. By diminishing you, you are much easier to control. But the abuser knows if he is aggressive all the time, you might get ideas and escape. So he cannot be that way all the time. Not matter what part of the abuse cycle we were in, he still maintained his desire to control. He just changed it up to make sure I stayed locked in the relationship.

A prime example was finding out that he used to hide his drugs in his car, and there apparently was also a spot in the garage he kept a stash. I remember the way he would react if I ever went near these places. One time I was looking for something and I thought it might be in the car so I went out there, he freaked on me. How dare I look in his car, he would look. I was not to go near his car and I was such an idiot for thinking that it was ok to open that door. This was followed by a lecture of all the ways I was a horrible human being. He tore me to shreds. It was very hurtful, and I was confused and in pain from the experience. I didn't really understand why me looking for something (I think it was a tool or something I cannot remember now) would cause such a personal and devasting attack. It was confusing and painful as I tried to understand exactly what I had done wrong and what I needed to do so that never happened again.

I now know the reason, and it had nothing to do with me, or my worth as a human being. It was only that I had gotten to close to discovering his secret. But at the time, I believed I had truly done something wrong, and I took his criticism to heart. I did believe that somehow it was my fault and I was a terrible person. Everything was my fault. Even though I couldn't quite understand exactly what I did wrong. I have had to spend the time reprocessing those events. There is sadness at remembering all the agony those situations inflicted. I remember going to work and struggling. I remember the emotional turmoil vividly. Its painful to realize that I took on all that pain and blame when it really wasn't about me at all. I had not done anything other than innocent try to find something. Its not a crime or sin to look in your partners car. So much senseless suffering.

It now makes sense about every time he would flip out when I would suggest transferring some of the debt into his name, as my credit was completely maxed out since I held all the family debt. He had this one credit card that I knew about and it had an insane interest rate close to 30 percent. A cycle that repeated itself several time through our marriage is he would run up his card to an amount impossible to pay off. I would transferring to my lower interest card so we could work at paying it off, and he would swear he would never run it up again. Then in a few months sure enough he would run it right back up again. After awhile I was completely maxed, and thought it would help if he could take some of the debt on using a low interest option. He always blew a gasket when I would make this suggestion. Now I know why, he had secret debt and loans that I was completely unaware of, he knew any application he would make would be rejected, and again I was getting to close to discovering his secret. So he controlled the situation using anger. A blitzgrieg attack.

He did the same thing when I found out about his girlfriend that he was meeting at the gym. I actually had not suspected anything, but when I asked him what was going on there, again he launched into a totally devastating personal attack.

I know now that he used explosive anger as a way of controlling the situation. To keep me under control and to keep me from asking questions. Using anger he was able to stop me from asking too many questions and deflect my attention away from what he was hiding. You earned to stay within his limits. I was never allowed to be comfortable or secure. I walked on egg shells. It made me feel like a totally worthless human being, and decimated my sense of self-worth.

"A tell-tale sign that rage is serving the purpose of power and control is that the primary aggressor is unwilling to discuss the outburst later in any meaningful or honest way. Apologies don't count. Fairly soon, the raging person’s expectations are not met and the tension phase starts. Tension further distorts perception, and routine events or small frustrations are seen as large offenses by the raging person and an outburst results"

That was definitely true in my case. He would never talk about what happened. He would say, we will talk about it later, then again later and later. Until finally he would say, why are you bringing this up it happened it's in the past, how come you just can't let it go. You just keep harping on it. So I would have to stuff it all down. Repress the pain and the turmoil. It never happened. I was not allowed to show or talk about what I was feeling. That was another strike against me if I did. More evidence of my worthlessness as a human.

Remembering this now gives me such a sense of perspective. It makes me really sad. I did not see what was happening. My perception had become so twisted, I thought I was in a loving relationship, I had come to believe that was how relationships actually were. I did not recognize the abuse. But I sure felt it.

They want you to feel this way. That makes you controllable. And when I see him now, I realize he absolutely needed to do that. Because the truth is, he is a very pathetic man, a pretender. The only way he could feel big was by making me feel small.

Everything is ALWAYS YOUR FAULT. Lol at the thought of this I actually have to laugh. Just remembering, he sold my backhoe on me. He sold it for far less than it was worth, and got taken advantage of by his "friend". haha, apparently that was my fault too, I should have kept the backhoe at my house. BHAHAHAAH even after our divorce I am to blame for his poor judgement.

That is what I am free of now. But I do not think it's possible to overstate how incredibly damaging it was to my soul. I think that is why emotional abuse is so damaging and why it takes so long to recover. If were to compare it to something its like being swept up and tumbled around in giant waves occasionally being smashed up into shore and out again. You will just be floating along, then all of a sudden its total turbulence. Painful and confusing, and you are blamed for it. Then suddenly once again you are out on the ocean floating along again, as if nothing ever happened. But you know its only a matter of time before your crashing into the rocky shore again, so you can never relax.

While walking with a friend of mine the other day, she said to me, "Aren't you glad to be out of that marriage" And at that moment I felt the full hit of it. Yes, I am out, I truly am free and I am so glad to be out. I never imagined what I feel today. That heavy weight of pain that I lived with every day. The constant sting. Its gone. I am so happy, and grateful for my life. Thank God things turned out the way they did. My only regret is that it didnt happen 25 years sooner. But being able to recognize it, and understand it has been so healing. Once you can wrap your head around it, you can finally become free.

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