Dear Chump Lady,
What do I do with all of this anger? I am feeling white-hot rage for the man who told me he loved me, then repeatedly cheated on me. First denying it, then finally saying it was because I didn’t cook for him or treat him “nicely” and then asked if we could “stay friends.” (I said NO WAY IN HELL!)
I have never felt this type of anger before in my life. It seems to be consuming me. I’m not used to it, and D-Day was four months ago. I feel like my body is overheating and about to explode. And, I am afraid that underneath the burning anger will be sadness and loneliness and longing for/missing him.
I don’t feel strong enough for this, honestly. I moved across the country to be with him, and don’t have any friends or family in this city. I feel all alone, stewing in my pointless, unproductive rage. I can’t imagine being with anyone ever again, and I haven’t eaten or slept normally since it happened. I keep messing up at work too. I go to therapy and take anti-depressants, but I still don’t feel like my old self and think I never will. I think he totally destroyed me. To make matters worse, he is a public figure and very successful, so shows up frequently in the media, making it hard for me to forget his face.
I’m not sure if you have any suggestions?
Yes, listen to your anger. It’s trying to tell you something. I can make a few guesses about what it is, but you know better than I do. My guess is it’s saying “Get the hell out of Dodge! You live in a place with no friends or family, where he is a constant media presence.” Then you probably think, UGH. That’s a lot of effort. I moved here for this asshole and now I need to move BACK? You become paralyzed by the logistics. You become paralyzed by the injustice. Meanwhile, you rage.
The rage is totally normal, by the way. If you don’t feel righteously furious I’d wonder what’s wrong with you. You’re only four months past D-Day.
Try to think of anger as fuel. It’s your body’s alarm system going off. Anger is very useful. It can stop you from spackling, it keeps you out of denial, it protects you from getting involved any further with your cheater. Anger can also propel chumps towards ACTION — filing divorce papers, throwing their shit out, standing up to the mental abuse, making a plan of escape.
But anger can also be misdirected — physical violence toward the cheater or affair partner, burning their shit in a bonfire on the lawn, graffiti-ing their crimes on bridge overpasses. So you need to heed anger and channel it.
If you don’t listen to anger, it festers. It turns inward. You get stress diseases. Teeth grinding, rashes, immune disorders, twitches, depression — you name it. Inchoate anger is deadly and soul sucking. So BP — allow yourself to feel the anger.
Don’t fight it. When you feel angry, write it out — journal. If you feel stuck, make a plan of action. If you feel overwhelmed, exercise. That’s the best thing for those powerless angry feelings — run it off, punch it out. Focus on yourself, on your breathing, on your body, on your own physicality. Exhaust yourself.
Know that the anger is FINITE. So is the sadness and loneliness. He did NOT destroy you! You are very much alive, and anger is your authentic self bitch-slapping you back to life. Anger is good. It means you are PISSED OFF at how he devalued you. I’d be a lot more concerned if you felt numb and paralyzed, taking a passive approach to life. You aren’t like that — you didn’t accept his blame-shifting and you rejected his offer of “friendship.” You got help — therapy and anti-depressants. You wrote to me. You’re navigating this shit really well four months out, so give yourself a pat on the back!
Anger, as we all know, is a stage of grief. And there is no avoiding grief because BP, you’re a person who cares. You invested yourself. You moved across the country. You loved with your whole heart. The shadow side of that love is grief. You’re angry at being chumped, but you’re grieving the life you thought you were going to have, that you invested so deeply in. It’s a real loss, and I’m sorry, you’re going to feel it keenly.
What helps is to know that these feelings pass in time. Keep the faith that, yes, this is not going to kill you, and even though you can’t believe it now — you truly are a person capable and deserving of a deep, sustaining, reciprocal love. Your ex is not. He’s a hollow shell who does human tricks.
Pretty soon you’re going to wake up from your grief and realize you’re mourning a mirage. A person who never really existed, who was never invested the way you were. He’s a fraud and you got conned. You’re in good company, BP. There’s no shame in being a chump. There is shame, however, in giving too much of ourselves to people who don’t value us. You now know who he is, so try very hard to stop giving yourself to him — figuring him out, why he did this, what it all means. Don’t let him have any more centrality in your life. As I say a lot here — trust that he sucks.
Trust that you don’t suck. His betrayal is no measure of your worth. He doesn’t have magic powers to decide the rest of your life! He fucked you over. It’s unfair but it is finite. That’s good news. The rest of your life is up to you — and I’m telling you from personal experience that life after a cheater can be freaking amazingly wonderful.
The anger will fade when you really internalize that he sucks, you’re safe out of it, and better things lay ahead. For now, when the white-hot rage comes upon you — welcome it.
Howdy Rage! I know you’re trying to keep me from missing him, you’re trying to protect me from getting hurt again, you want me to make a new plan. I’m listening, Rage. I hear you.
And if that doesn’t work, BP, you have my permission to throw a brick at the TV the next time his smarmy, cheater face comes on. (((Big hugs)))