Ahhhhhh…ANGER! If you are not familiar with it you better get used to living with your new best friend. Anger is the second stage of grief and for most of us who are confronted with our spouse’s Sex Addiction it is the emotion that stays with us the longest.
Now, some people, such as counselors, co-12 step groups and the like will advise that we should avoid outbursts of anger and that we need to act in a ‘mature’ manner; that anger will have a negative effect on communication or that our expression of anger will cause the addict to withdraw and feel more shame.
Well, sorry, I beg to differ here (and that’s putting it mildly). Unless and until you get all your anger out, and feel that your deepest emotions of hurt, grief and despair are heard, you and your relationship will not start on a path toward healing and recovery. Anger is a healthy, mature emotion experienced by all humans at one time or another and it is a function of our very survival. Anger shows the Sex Addict the depth of pain they have caused and expresses the seriousness of their actions and the hurt that you feel. If there is no anger or consequences from their misdeeds where is the impetus to change?
How long will this stage last? As long as it takes. And, until the Sex Addict begins to work through their own issues and starts to show empathy and understanding for your anger rather than the self-centered, shame based defensiveness your anger will continue. It is only when you feel heard and understood will the anger subside and allow understanding and compassion to take it’s place. If the Sex Addict cannot or will not strive toward a healthier lifestyle and attitude the relationship will continue to deteriorate. At that point is may be best to separate either temporarily or permanently.
For you, during this grieving process, it is important to take care of yourself. If you binge when angry, make an effort to eat healthy, if you withdraw, try to get out more, if you need to cry, give yourself an hour long pity party and have at it–then let it go for a while, if you drink or take drugs, try to maintain some control. It’s difficult, but denying or burying the anger will only delay the process.
Now, I’m not talking about causing physical harm to anyone, I am an old hippie, pacifist, ‘make love not war’ personality, but after I found out about my husband’s thousand dollar a month hooker habit I yelled, screamed, called him nasty names, attacked his character and integrity and literally made both of our lives miserable for over three years! Although I shocked myself with my seriously thought out plans to kill him, I never attacked him physically. I do know women who have kicked, bit, hit and thrown things at their Sex Addict husbands, but I feel that those actions are not productive and can be dangerous if a larger, stronger man decides to retaliate.
Give voice to your anger, express it, scream it and live it until it has run it’s course and you are ready to let it go. Then–and only then will you begin to heal.
Click here to read Grieving Your Losses Part 1
Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. ~ Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.