i am actually looking forward to this blog as i have learned some critical things about myself and my raging. i am encouraged by what i’ve read and am putting the information into action already. i am not a Polyanna, however, i recognize that this is not going to be easy, it will take a lot of work and guts on my part, but i have a better understanding on what’s going on and a plan to deal with it.
The major triggers of my rage are real or imagined threats of abandonment, betrayal, and neglect, known as Abandonment Rage. Most frequently, children who have grown up in unstable environments have this type of rage, however, this is not the case for me, thank goodness, as the damage from that type of abandonment is so deep-seated that it is difficult for those adults to recover from it. My fear stems from two failed marriages. This fear leads to a feeling of insecurity in my relationship with Maximus.
This insecurity is what gave me the feeling of being “terrified” when Maximus first told me He had fallen in love with me and wanted to pursue a committed relationship. However, i did jump in, which is typical in this level of insecurity. i tend to worry about how much Maximus loves me and if it’s equitible and often find it difficult to believe that He chose me and will stay. This insecurity makes me distrustful. Here are things that i identified with in the book, Rage: A Step-by-Step Guide to Overcoming Explosive Anger by Ronald T. Potter-Efron, MSW, PhD:
- i look for proof that the person who says they care about me cannot be trusted
- Feeling neglected or ignored by the person i love seems almost intolerable to me
- i struggle with intense feelings of jealousy (and deny it vehemently)
- i sometimes feel cheated by my partner because i think i give them more love, care, and attention than i get back
So what made me fearful to start with?
Unhealthy adult relationships can strongly affect you. Certainly trying to love someone who really does lie, cheat, and steal is a formula for insecurity. Your entire relationship history, not just your family of origin, molds how you feel about relationship bonds.
This is the clincher for me. Let me describe my two marriages and how my unresolved issues are affecting my relationship with Maximus today.
PiperC and i were married for 11 years. We never fought–NEVER. We met at work, held the same position for a long time, which worked well. However, i began to promote up the ranks and he began to despise the distances in our ranks and the positional knowledge that gave me. He became professionally jealous and this eventually began to poison our relationship. He began disrespectful and hostile and our interpersonal and sexual relationship began to fail. i ended up having an affair with a woman toward the end of our marriage, desiring emotional and sexual fulfillment. Things declined to the point where he began to encourage me to apply for management positions in other states and made it clear that he would not follow me. i started to make an exit strategy which accelerated after an incident where he nearly accidentally injured me but showed no remorse–this lead me to dissolve the relationship immediately. (As a note, as i write that, i see how my abandonment rage is so very similar to this and how i am treating Maximus how i was treated then…i certainly need to change)
i felt absolutely betrayed by PiperC, who promised to love and cherish and stick by me for better and worse–and when i became better at my job, he despised me.
i was only legally divorced from PiperC one month when i met OneGuy, although we had been separated for four months. The lack of emotional and sexual intimacy for the last years of our marriage had left me severely wanting and i was anxious to get back into dating even though friends and family recommended i wait to heal and recover. OneGuy and i became very serious extremely quickly, and ended up moving into my new house i purchased just six months after we started dating and married a year later.
The relationship turned horrible the moment we moved in together with his two teenage children. OneGuy had assured me equal status as an adult in the household, able to be involved with decisions of the family, which did not hold true. He undermined my decisions, belittled me in front of them. He believed household chores were child abuse, which he did not divulge before we moved in together, despite many discussions about home life, and the house was constantly a state of hovel, which i could not tolerate and ended up constantly cleaning. i came home to days of dishes and rotting food, clothing, animal filth, and my beautiful home i purchased was being destroyed. Unfortunately, in my desire not to fail at another relationship, i thought things would change.
Financial problems plagued the relationship as well. OneGuy was embarrassed that we were engaged without a ring, but he didn’t have liquid cash to buy one. He asked if he could borrow money from me to buy the ring and that he would pay me back once he sold an ATV. i had money from the sale of a house that i was going to use to buy household items we’d need for a brand new house, so i loaned that to him. However, when he sold the ATV, he used the money to pay a huge credit card debt i had no idea he had instead of paying me back. It was impossible to get the money back now that it was paid to a credit card company and i was out.
He did give me money to contribute to a down payment, which i had refused to accept initially. However, i did not realize until we did taxes the first year after we were married that he had sold stocks for this money but did not pay taxes incurred. We were hit with a HUGE tax burden which he did not have money to pay. i had finally recouped money i lost from the ring fiasco and ended up using that and credit to pay the tax debt. i thought we were done with taxes until we received a letter from the IRS that we were not getting the family tax rebate because it was applied to an enormous back tax debt of OneGuy’s from 2001. He insisted that he did not owe it and that it was from an error his ex-wife made and had been refusing to pay it. After searching through boxes and boxes of unfiled paperwork, i found letter after letter after letter, many unopened, from the IRS about this debt. Now that we were married, the IRS was taking my money to pay his ginormous debt that was growing exponentially from late fees and compounding interest. He refused to do anything about it.
On Christmas, his ex-wife called asking to be paid out for her divorce settlement early. He had promised me that he had no outstanding debt from that divorce and that there were no future payments from retirement accounts that had to be dispersed to her. He had lied. The stocks that he had sold to give me the down payment were legally hers through the divorce agreement. So what he had done was basically given a piece of my home equity to her. He was able to disuade her from taking that money now, due to the economy, not telling her what he’d done, and she agreed to wait. i was horrified to think i was at risk of losing my house to a decision i had no part of and no idea about.
During all of this, i tried to talk with OneGuy about these issues. He refused to discuss them, told me they were none of my business. His tactic was to stop talking to me and ignore me, for days and days, acting as if i was not in the house. He would not reply to text messages, not answer the phone. After a while he would talk to me, but never about the issues–they were swept under the carpet. Eventually, i began to rage when this happened–this is when my raging started. i could not stand being ignored for days and i was devastated at what was happening to me in my own home.
We did start swinging during this relationship, which was, ironically, the strongest part of our relationship together. However, during a trip to the beach, OneGuy gave me his phone to look up a website and i found it was logged on to an adult dating site called Ashley Madison, which is site designed for married people to meet others to have discreet affairs with. i didn’t ask him about it, but i did create a false profile on the site which he immediately contacted (i did not contact him first) and after some chatting, arrangements were made to meet. i never met him, i canceled at the last minute after he left the house to meet this make-believe person, realizing that he was having affairs. i was very upset that he was having affairs as we were very actively involved in swinging together and he was having sex with lots of women with my full knowledge and consent–why did he need to cheat?!? i had intention to confront him about this but the next issue came up immediately and i didn’t even need to bring the infidelity up.
The final straw was a horrible undermining of me in front of his son, a horrible lie that could never be undone, where he said that i hated his son in front of him. i adored his children with all my heart and was leveled by how he so intentionally destroyed my credibility with them by doing that–and i knew i’d never get it back. He had torpedoed me. i divorced him immediately. The financial disasters continued as he demanded more money from me, knowing it was cheaper for me to pay him than to fight it in court. i also gave him the ring, much to the dismay of my family, as i just could not stand to see it anymore, knowing it’s financial history.
i was destroyed after this marriage, as i noted in my previous blog post. i felt so betrayed, unloved, abandoned, lied to. i just willed myself to living a life on my own and never having to deal with all this risk again. i never dealt with these feelings.
So, am i doomed to be insecure and fearful forever? Thankfully, no. Research has shown that people can and do change attachment patterns and no matter how insecure i feel today, there is reason to hope that i can learn to feel safer within my relationship over time. But i will have to be patient as it is a gradual process and requires diligence.
Seven Steps to Prevent Abandonment Rage
1. Learn everything you can about with whom, when, how, and why you turn your fear of abandonment into rage.
With whom do i rage? Maximus
When do i rage? i am most typically triggered by some sort of mention or text from Ms. W. Other triggers include scheduling struggles, whether scheduling time to see each other or to talk.
How do i rage? i say very hurtful things, things that are not true, are spiteful and inflammatory. i yell, stomp, swear, flee, return and accost verbally.
Why do i rage? i rage because i have a perceived threat that Maximus is in love with Ms. W and that He will leave me for her. i fear that she is trying to push me out and that she will win Maximus over, leaving me without the love of my life.
2. Commit to quit raging, no matter how jealous, empty, lonely, hurt, insecure, or unsafe you feel.
At the beginning of our relationship, i shared with Maximus the trust issues i have stemming from my marriage to OneGuy. In effort to be completely transparent and show me that He was committed and fully honest with me, He gave me the passwords to His email and lifestyle dating accounts, as well as His iPhone, and instructed me to feel free to access any of these if ever i felt insecure. He felt so strongly about this that He had this included in our BDSM contract. The problem was, this was like crack cocaine to me. i got completely obsessed with my ability to check His email, phone, accounts for signs that He was being dishonest. At one point, He got a security warning from His email service that another computer was logged in to His account and He changed His password. He told me about this, thinking that He’d been hacked, not even imagining that it was me who was logged on, and i confessed that it was me. Not intentionally, He did not give me His new password, and i didn’t ask, as i was mortified about the situation.
Initially, i was beside myself about not being able to check His email, but after a few days, i realized how freeing it was to not feel compelled to have to check it. i later told Maximus about this and asked that He not give me the password, and He complied with that. When it came time to renew our contract, however, i refused to remove this clause and asked for His password, which i didn’t get. i demanded He give me this password during my last rage.
The iPhone has had a similar effect on me. Maximus gave me free access to it, which i eventually told Him i felt would be better that i requested to see His phone rather than just picking it up and going through it behind His back. He said it wasn’t necessary. But again, this became obsessive for me. i find myself staring at His phone, wondering what’s in there. i have gone through His phone and i hate myself for doing it after i’ve done it.
my preference is to not have carte blanche access to His email and phone. It’s not necessary and just increases my level of insecurity and then shame for going through them looking for prove that He loves only me. Maximus, please do not give me your email password. i will work extremely hard to fight the urge to go through His phone. It is a habit that brings me shame and i am going to break this habit. i am requesting that we remove this clause from our BDSM contract as well.
You will need all your courage, commitment, and conviction to get through these moments. You will find them occurring frequently when you try to quit raging about abandonment issues…you can keep screaming, yelling, whining, and badgering your partner until he or she really does leave you, or you can make and keep a commitment to quit raging, no matter how unsafe you feel.
i recognize that there will be triggers sooner or later (probably sooner) that will trigger doubts, but i must keep my promise not to explode.
3. Make your main goal to exchange the sense of distrust that fuels abandonment rages with a willingness to trust.
When i feel fearful or overanalytical, i need to stop the self-talk that starts the spinning inside my head. This self-talk perpetuates itself and grows to include other minor things as proof until i have a tornado of rage from often inconsequential things. The author suggests substituting these thoughts when negative self-talk and analyzing begins:
- Today i choose to trust Maximus.
- From now on, i’m going to trust Maximus.
- i’ll give Maximus the benefit of the doubt.
- i want to be more trusting. i can be more trusting. i will be more trusting.
- i am more trusting now than i used to be and i will continue to develop trust.
- my world is safer than it used to be. i’ve just got to accept that fact.
- Maximus loves me and wants to stay with me.
And for goodness sakes, hasn’t He proved that?
4. To gain greater ability to trust in the present, focus upon people whom you have been able to trust in the past.
My family has always be a source of trust for me. However, i am not comfortable in sharing this information with them. Instead, i will use the lifetime of trust as a model of how i do have people who i can trust and Maximus is part of that family.
5. Replace jealous, suspicious, and distrusting words and actions with trusting ones.
First, i am making a promise, a commitment, that i will change my words and behaviors, stop the destructive self-talk and searching for proof of dishonesty RIGHT NOW.
Second, i will give Maximus the benefit of the doubt that He deserves. No more accusations or demands for proof that He loves me.
Third, i will catch myself starting the self-doubt and stop the paranoia.
Fourth, i will develop a trusting vocabulary of “i trust You” and “i can depend on You.”
Fifth, i will act in a manner of a trusting person! even if it doesn’t feel natural.
6. Learn how to accept reassurance when you need reminders that you are loved and wanted.
Believe Maximus when He tells you that He loves you, that you are the BPE (Best Piece of Ass), and trust that GOT means a lifetime commitment. i will breathe these things in deeply and hold them in my heart. i will believe that i am loved, appreciated, and accepted.
7. Challenge yourself to let go of especially painful feelings of neglect, abandonment, rejection, or betrayal from the past.
Maximus is NOT PiperC or OneGuy. They are out of your life, stop holding Maxiums accountable for their actions. i will leave the past in the past and believe that i am not doomed to repeat past pains. i will forgive PiperC and OneGuy and stop holding the grudges about past betrayals.
i will continue to journal about my progress, pitfalls, and wins.
i will go to therapy to help me deal with my past demons and learn techniques to keep my commitment of trust.