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The shame-rage connection

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rachelc posted 10/25/2013 05:38 AM

our MC said I really need to work on this. I just don't understand it though. Has anyone done any personal work on this?

For instance, maybe I feel so much rage when I see the OW is because I feel humiliated/scared/afraid of abandonment? I have no idea...

brokensmile322 posted 10/25/2013 05:58 AM

If I remember correctly, this cycle starts when you feel your self esteem is attacked or you are made to not feel good about yourself.

The feelings this generates in a person is shame. You now feel bad about you, but instead of feeling those feelings, you cope with them by going 0-60 right to a rage. The rage is a defense mechanism so you don't have to feel the shame.

Usually this cycle comes from having lived in an abusive relationship before where it was learned as a way to cope, either as a child or an adult.

Does this sound like it makes sense?

Are you in IC? I think an IC would be able to deal with it.

blakesteele posted 10/25/2013 06:10 AM

I have worked with my Pastor on my rage issues. To be sure, there is shame involved in our spouses A. I added to that shame with the way I chose to act immediately upon my DD....consoling my wife, begging, minimizing--all related to abandonment issues.

So I get where your counselor is coming from and think that is a part of this.

However, my Pastor led me on a journey to also realize their is absolutely a place for rage.....the bible calls it Righteous Anger.

It appears to me that their is a concise time for righteous anger....much like their is a concise time to exact punishment on a childs misbehavior...immediately upon discovery of the sin or infraction.

My abandonment issues, which I knew nothing about at the time, kept me from choosing the healthy righteous anger mode of operating upon my DD....and has had unhealthy consequences in my life since age 12...both inside and outside of my M.

I am working on that is refreshing to discover sn underlying issue that affects so much of my life, making it possible to address and grow past its limiting characteristics....but it is tiring work. And the pain of my wifes A seems ever-present....doing its best to feed me the lie of "my issues aren't that bad, I don't need to mature much at all".

My journey to rage started with me....mad at myself for my inappropriate and unhealthy response to my wifes decision to sleep with another man, then it moved to the other man, then it moved to my wife, then it came back to me.

It came back to me when I finally realized that my wifes adulterous behavior was not about me....was not a reflection of me....this is the point when I got mad at myself for letting something not about me affect me so profoundly. It is immature, self centered behavior....hardly a trait I am comfortable accepting is a part of me....I am ashamed of this....made me angry.

This led me to strong motivation to address this weakness in me....and motivates me today.

Fast forward 13 months post-DD....
I literally had dinner with my whole family sitting 10 feet from my wifes AP, his 5 kids, and his wife at a local restaurant. I felt no shame or rage towards anyone present...including myself.

I finally accepted that this whole disgusting event between my wife and her AP was just that....between her and him.

All others in that restaurant that night were equally removed from that illicit relationship...myself, our kids, his kids, his wife, the chef, the waitress, the hostess, the other patrons....we were all equal in the eyes of that relationship and the role we played in it. We were simply not a factor. My abandonment issues MADE me a factor...but their actions, motives, decisions concerned only them. To be sure, we are collateral damage....and that is where we differ from the wait staff and others at the restaurant....but that was just that, collateral damage.

It is said adultery is the single most selfish act a person can engage in.

I can now agree with that statement. For too long I had the "how could she do this to me, to our family" attitude. I had to grow past that for real change to start to take place.

I follow your posts closely. I believe you and I are on a similar path. I am hopeful the rage you feel towards your husbands AP will go the way mine has gone. It is a painful but healthy process.

After 1 year of counseling it is a no brainer that a person with abandonment issues will be painfully slow to express righteous anger towards the one it needs to be expressed towards....because that would drive them away and we would be abandoned.

The insane part of this logic, of which I 100% had, is that my wife had ALREADY LEFT ME, ALREADY ABANDONED OUR FAMILY. My own fear allowed me to lie to myself that this did not actually happen...causing me to minimize and act shamefully.

Peace be with you.

God be with us all.

[This message edited by blakesteele at 8:11 AM, October 25th (Friday)]

sisoon posted 10/25/2013 08:25 AM

Is your MC using it in the technical sense?

Sylvan Tomkins did a lot of great work on shame specifically and affect theory in general, and it's been filtering into therapeutic theory for years now.

Check him (i.e. his work) out.

rachelc posted 10/25/2013 08:31 AM

our MC claims that shame is permeating myself. I'm torturing myself and keeping his affair front and center in my head because I can't forgive my own self.

I'm entirely too critical of myself because the message I received as a young person is achievement is the way to get attention. It is hard for me to JUST BE.

Yet, I don't know how this translates to dealing with his affairs and trying to heal from this. I continue to feel victimized from it - I don't understand ppl who don't - like this is the why my life is so crappy. When the MC says that think of the life you are capable of having if you let this go.

I maintain that's it just too big of thing to let go. He liked my 20 questions and I was able to ask two big ones. He stopped by husband right away when he went immediately into, "but you did..." and he's having me reword my questions so they're not, "why did you..." but "what were you thinking when you did...."

I just feel that getting over this is too big for me. And it seems that now that there is a shame problem, that is one additonal thing that's wrong with me. I'm so tired of having something wrong with me. I think I'm fine.

ladies_first posted 10/25/2013 11:46 AM

Gently, you seem to skip around a great deal. You MENTION so many separate-but-connected issues, but never appear to RESOLVE any of them. (Forgive me if I'm wrong).

I'm not asking you to obsess.

But make a list of your top 5-10 concerns and dig deeper!! Resolve and move forward.

1. shame-rage connection
2. abandonment
3. personal physical appearance
4. forgiveness/acceptance
5. Trust
6. Why am I still here?

Start to make some CONNECTIONS:
Why am I still here?
1. Has there been any contact with these women that I don’t know about? Was there some sort of “closure” communication with either of them? *Forgiveness/Acceptance *Rage
2. Have you told me the truth about everything I’ve asked about? *Forgiveness/Acceptance *Trust
3. Have either of these women ever seen pictures of our children? *Rage *Trust
4. Have there been other women? I followed you one day. And look what I found. *Trust
5. Why did you go to work the day after I found out both times? *Abandonment

Now you make some connections...

6. Why do you say that most men wouldn’t go to counseling and I should be thankful you at least do this?
7. When I called you out on telling OW#2 about my affair why did you say I would have done the same thing if you had your affairs first?
8. Why did I have to hear about your additional “date” from the OW and not you?
9. Why do you have anything to do with (name of friend who went out with he and OW#1)?
10. If I hadn’t had an affair would you be more willing to move?
11. Why do you say your personality changed? Did that mean you didn’t know right from wrong?
12. Why did you say that you didn’t know if we would work out so you started dating? We had had couples pictures taken the day before your affair started. We had just returned from a romantic vacation.
13. Why did you get so mad at me for putting spyware on your phone?
14. How could you say I caused my own trauma by spying on you myself? Didn’t YOUR ACTIONS cause my trauma?
15. Why did you say “you need to let these people go” when I looked at her LinkedIn page? I have a right to know if they are still employed around here… I have never said anything like this to you.
16. Please understand that EVERYWHERE WE GO I worry about running into them. I will NOT simply walk away. I will leave. I will not allow myself to be traumatized anymore and I cannot understand how you think putting myself in this situation would be ok.
17. Why would you even glance at another woman after two affairs? You’re lucky you still have your testicles.
18. Why did you say you wouldn’t pay for anymore peoplesearch stuff? Why do I feel like I have to defend myself for doing that? I shouldn’t.
19. Do you know that the leading researcher on affairs Shirley Glass, recommends the couple put aside some money in case the BS needs to hire a PI just to verify things are going ok?

[This message edited by ladies_first at 12:10 PM, October 25th (Friday)]

rachelc posted 10/25/2013 12:10 PM

Ladies first- I appreciate your post but I'm not quite sure what you're saying. Deal with one issue? I can assure you there are a lot of issues going on. I'm not at acceptance, firgiveness, trust, etcetera. These all take time to resolve. Are they all connected? No idea.
I feel I should be able to post on a Multitude of topics. Sure I can identify the topics, all valid, in my opinion

sisoon posted 10/25/2013 12:29 PM

Rachelc, You've mentioned at least 3 BIG traumas: 1) being raped; 2) betraying your H; and 3) being betrayed by your H. Being assaulted by your friend may be a 4th big one, but it seems to pale in comparison to any one of the other 3. If you think it's a big trauma, it's the 4th one that you have to deal with.

I think you have to somehow separate them in your body/mind. What does your IC say about how to heal from all the traumas?

Your H has to deal with similar traumas. He didn't protect you from rape or assault. I assume he couldn't, but I think most men would have pretty bad feelings about that sort of issue. He was cheated on. He cheated.

What's he doing to heal? How is he dealing with the shame, grief, anger, fear, etc?

Is your IC helping you do some structured work on your multiple issues (i.e. issue by issue)? How does she see you finding your way through the multiple traumas?

ladies_first posted 10/25/2013 12:29 PM

Are they all connected? No idea.

Dig deeper.

DixieD posted 10/25/2013 12:39 PM

I identify with what Brokensmile referred to. I had a lot of anger and rage and shame towards myself because of how I allowed myself to be treated for so long. Even if that meant I didn't recognize at the time that I was being treated poorly.

Rachel, Healing the Shame that Binds is a good book. Not an easy read, but an interesting one.

rachelc posted 10/25/2013 12:50 PM

sisoon: I was never assaulted by a friend... you must have me mixed up with someone else.

However, hubby is in IC and I think they've talked about the rape and how he felt powerless. He doesn't share much with me about that.

We have worked on specific things in IC using EMDR. Today, we worked on confidence. I KNOW what I want my life to look like. I have to have the guts to make it look that way.

Finally10 posted 10/25/2013 12:52 PM


I'm going to sound like a broken record here because I’m always recommending this, but Brenne Brown is one of the preeminent authorities in shame research and I would strongly suggest you read some of her work. Her book Daring Greatly covers shame as felt by both sexes, their typical responses to shame inducing events and the concept of shame resilience. Some people have a lot, and some people don't, it has a lot to do with how you were raised and how "failures" in childhood were handled. Dealing with shame ultimately has to do with your willingness to be vulnerable…

People respond to shaming events differently, and men and women respond differently too, but I think you are right about the anger/rage response. Anger is a secondary emotion, a defense mechanism or coping skill to deal with the underlying "pain" event. Some respond with depression, anger, alcohol or drugs to numb the pain, but some decide to dig into the feelings, find the root cause(s) and resolve them. Finding the source of the pain, and why THIS pain makes you feel as it does is the process. Once identified, your IC can help figure out how to resolve it.

And it seems that now that there is a shame problem, that is one additional thing that's wrong with me. I'm so tired of having something wrong with me. I think I'm fine.

Shame is not something 'wrong' with you - everyone feels shame unless you are a true sociopath - which if you are here expressing these kinds of sentiments, you are not. But, you are not fine... you are hurting like every other betrayed person in this community.

The question is, what are you going to do about it? Shame can motivate, just like achievement, if you choose to let it. Unfortunately, shame usually leads to unhealthy coping mechanisms like boxing it up and trying to ignore it. Doing this builds your own monument to shame inside your head where it eventually crushes you. You ask a lot of good questions, however, staying mired in a victim role is a shame inducing process in itself. As Ladies First says above, make the connections, dig into them and resolve them. This is what IC is for.

Our pastor told a story this past Sunday about a man walking down the sidewalk who fell into a hole. The next day walking down the sidewalk, he got distracted by a Ferrari driving down the road and fell in the hole again. The third day he closed his eyes thinking if he didn’t see the hole he wouldn’t fall in and sure enough he fell into the same hole again. The fourth day… he decided to take a different route. (I’m paraphrasing a little). You get to decide what this simple story might mean for you.

Oh, and just to come full circle, reading, and re-reading Brenne Brown’s book has been a very enlightening experience for me.


rachelc posted 10/25/2013 12:54 PM

ladies first - appreciate your input.

The thing that connects all the things I'm dealing with: trust, forgiveness, acceptance is his affair. They are all connected by an awful betrayal. I wish you would just tell me what it is?Obviously, I still struggle a lot. I think anyone in my position would. IS resolving something simply making a decision? Most on here say things come quietly and without them knowing... but if you have something specific I need to know, please just tell me.

rachelc posted 10/25/2013 12:57 PM

You ask a lot of good questions, however, staying mired in a victim role is a shame inducing process in itself.

and this is what infuriates me. He gets to screw around twice and then get a happy wife in the process. Fuck that.

Rebreather posted 10/25/2013 13:06 PM

So you would prefer to stay mired in the muck of pain so you can punish him?

tushnurse posted 10/25/2013 13:19 PM

So is this it? Maybe it really truly is a dealbreaker for you. IT just took some time and healing to realize it.

That's what I am hearing in the undertones of your posts for the past week. Have you said it out loud?
Is that your vision for the future? Being without him?

I'm not saying that its right or wrong for you. That is your decision to make, and it seems that you are really really struggling with allowing yourself to say it's ok if that really is it.

Honestly between everything that you have been through and your M has been through you are going to be a different person on the other side, perhaps that person is so different that she can't allow herself to ever trust this man again.
Does that mean that you are broken? No. It may simply mean that the new you, doesn't want to deal that BS anymore.

Just my thoughts.....

rachelc posted 10/25/2013 13:19 PM

No and we've talked about this in IC. Not sure why I feel this way. Just seems like a lot for both of us to swallow to stay married an d be happy

painfulpast posted 10/25/2013 13:49 PM

I love this topic!! I found this article so interesting, and it might have some info for you too.

Regarding ‘getting over it’, I don’t think anyone here or anywhere else ever ‘gets over it’. The term that was told to me was ‘learn to live with it’.

I was like you – achievement = success. So, I have multiple degrees, academic awards, high ranking job, etc. None of that mattered, because those are keys to happiness. They are just achievements, that in reality took time from my family to earn. Worth it? Don’t know.

OK, going off track. Have you ‘accepted’ that these events occurred? Are they fair? No, and they never will be. But they happened. Acceptance has worked for me. I was so angry, so bitter at the unfairness of it all, and I was sure I would be like that forever. I was completely stuck, and I didn’t know how anyone else wasn’t. Why? Because I couldn’t let go of my belief that if you did the right thing, then the right thing would happen. Life isn’t like that.

So, I had to accept that I was in a marriage with cheating (just once). I had to accept that this happened, and it wasn’t fair, and it never would be, and it would ALWAYS have happened. Not everything is controllable.

It’s not about what he gets, it’s about what you get – which is peace, at least sometimes.

ladies_first posted 10/25/2013 14:09 PM

Just seems like a lot for both of us to swallow to stay married an d be happy

I'm not asking you to swallow anything; quite the contrary. It's about accepting the painful things that have happened throughout a long, active life and integrating both the positive and negative into a healthy personal narrative.

Rachel, you've been here since December 2010. You've got the tools, now it's time for you to make the connections.

I wish you would just tell me what it is? Obviously, I still struggle a lot.

Since I don't live in your head or home, I can't give you all the answers. Make your own "issues I want to resolve list" -- then look at each issue from each of 3 stances on The Karpman Drama Triangle:
*Victim ("I'm Blameless") SAFE
*Persecutor/Punisher ("I'm Right) POWER
*Rescuer ("I'm Good") ACCEPTED
(YOUR list; your husband will have is own list of issues)

our MC claims that shame is permeating myself. I'm torturing myself and keeping his affair front and center in my head because I can't forgive my own self.

Listen to your MC. Isn't an integrated, healthy personal narrative the basis of self-forgiveness?

YOU need to make peace with the past and start living authentically in the present.

Everything is connected.

[This message edited by ladies_first at 2:16 PM, October 25th (Friday)]

rachelc posted 10/25/2013 14:30 PM

tushnurse: thank you, your post made me cry... I said it aloud to myself and cried. It's so hard to hear because he's being so great now...

ladies: I was here for two years as a wayward first. I understand that behavior so well that's why I'm so disppointed in my husband. He doesn't get it yet - not all of it. And he would have, had he read here and looked inside himself. He didn't do any of that so his anger came out in his own affairs.

if I look at acceptance in the drama triangle: ok, it happened. I hate it but it happened. I don't throw it in his face so where's the triangle thing? Forgiveness: he doesn't deserve it for SOME of the things. I think I live forgiveness by being here... Trust: really? These aren't things we talk about a lot so I'm not sure it's anywhere else but in my head...

I would LOVE to have peace, believe me. I don't know how to stay in this relationship, be vulnerable (F10 - I've read her books, thanks though!), accept, trust and forgive... it feels like I'd be giving up myself to do this. Like, I WOULD have to swallow it. How does one be vulnerable and happy with someone who saw how their actions impacted you and then chose to do it again??

[This message edited by rachelc at 2:31 PM, October 25th (Friday)]

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