The last type of rage i experience is Shame-Based Rage. This is to a lesser extent, and related to the shame i feel after the times i have exploded in sudden abandonment rage. i get horribly embarrassed and feel humiliated by my actions, beat myself up internally. Only once has this been the sole type of rage event for me, but it is a secondary issue in episodes of Abandonment Rage.
Shame is both a feeling and a belief. It is an unpleasant feeling of being totally exposed to people’s criticism, where the person can come to believe that they are somehow defective, broken, flawed, damaged. The instinctive reaction to a moment of shame is to flee, run away, or hide, to become invisible so no one can see your flaws. While running away makes the person feel safer, it triggers a self-defeating spiral where they feel additional shame for fleeing. However, in shame-rage, the person tries to get rid of the feeling of shame by giving it to someone else–dumping all their anger on someone else.
The time i experienced Shame-based rage was during a dinner with Maximus and The Englishman. Maximus and i had confided in The Englishman about our relationship and difficulties i was having as he had overheard a Skype episode where i had raged at Maximus in December. The Englishman started to, what i perceived, lecture me in front of Maximus about how i needed to trust Him and that He loved me, something we had worked out. The Englishman didn’t have all the information and i felt i needed to defend myself from this onslaught, ambushed. i started to feel my emotions take over and in effort to calm down and not rage, i excused myself to the car to breathe. As i was sitting in the parking lot, a man from an adjacent car started banging on the car window and yelling at me, i have no idea why. i locked my door, put my face in my lap and he went away. Soon i heard the driver’s door open. i assumed it was Maximus, so i sat up and leaned into Him for Him to hold me–however, when i opened my eyes, i saw it was The Englishman and i exploded inside, felt invaded in my safe place. i yelled for him to leave me alone, ran out of the car and ran down the street. i ran and ran and ran. i was angry at Maximus for sending him out to me–my assumption as to what happened. Eventually i settled down and decided to go back to the car, however, when i returned, Maximus and The Englishman started yelling at me from the restaurant entrance. As i didn’t want to see The Englishman again at that moment, i tossed my stilettos and beautiful necklace Maximus had purchased for me at the car and ran away again. i tried to get a cab from an auto shop to go home as i had left my cell phone in Maximus’ car, but they never called one for me. Eventually i returned to the restaurant where Maximus tracked me down in His car, frantically searching the area for me, and i got into His car only when The Englishman left to another restaurant. i was furious with Maximus, thinking He’d sent The Englishman to shame me more, accused Him of sending “a rapist to rape me some more!”, screaming at Him. At one point i ran from the car, telling Him i was going Home and we were done. After i sat and breathed for a few moments, i returned to the car and He drove me home.
At those moments, all i want to do is run. Run fast, far, away from my shame, away from the hurt, away from, what i feel, are critical eyes, embarrassed, humiliated.
9 Steps to Tame Shame-Based Rage
1. Make a strong commitment right now to gain control over shame-based rage.
I’m so there!
i, gabriella, promise today to quit raging. Specifically, i will refrain from raging against anybody, especially the people i love. If i feel personally shamed by something others say or do, i will step away until i gain control over my urge to attack. i will use no excuses to justify shaming, blaming, or treating others with contempt.
Part of this is that during discussions or when i feel overwhelming emotions starting to build, i need to let Maximus know that i need a break. There are times that i have run away without telling Him this and walk away, which prompts Him to ask me to come back and not walk away from Him–i usually return and fail to tell Him i’m needing a break, which further accelerates the situation. i have to own my commitment to communicate my needs.
2. Follow the shame-rage trail back to your own shameful thoughts and feelings.
These are not caused by what someone else says, even though it feels like it, it is based upon what is going on inside my head. No one’s blaming me, they are discussing things because they care, so don’t take this personally. This will be extremely important as i work to eliminate raging as it will require me to discuss these things with Maximus, with a counselor, and with the two of them together–i will feel intense shame, guilt, remorse, and i need to manage that without letting it take me over.
3. Discover how you temporarily get rid of your shame by raging.
My shame gets aimed at Maximus. When i had the episode with The Englishman, i blamed Maximus for allowing The Englishman to ambush me, which was not true. He never sent The Englishman out, He was stuck inside the restaurant trying to figure out what was happening and trying to pay the bill for a very expensive dinner we had ordered. He could not run out after The Englishman, He could not go out to me until He had dealt with the bill.
During episodes of abandonment rage, i call Him the things my shame was telling myself about me. i’m attacking Him as if He is my shame.
4. Reclaim your shame to break the shame-rage connection.
i have to accept that i feel shameful, that i have behaved in a manner that is causing me to feel embarrassed and humiliated in front of the person i love. i need to own it and i need to deal with the abandonment issues that trigger the raging that makes me feel ashamed.
5. Challenge the validity of the five core shame messages.
It’s time to replace negative self-talk with healing thoughts. Change:
- “i am no good” to “i am good.”
- “i am not good enough” to “i am good enough.”
- “i am unlovable” to “i am loved and lovable.”
- “i don’t belong” to “i belong.”
- “i should not exist” to “i am.”
i need to be patient and kind to myself in this process. It is already a bit of a struggle here because as i have wounded Maximus so deeply and He feels poisoned, He has pulled back from me, which i have focused on as humiliating. This has changed our communication patterns dramatically, as text messages and phone calls have drastically reduced, bringing up feelings of loss, memories of abandonment in past relationships, and is extremely uncomfortable. it is easy for the self-talk of, “look what you’ve done” to start and i have fear in feeling emotions right now. i am so afraid of having another raging episode that i fear my feelings, wishing i could will them away, but realizing that it is natural and normal to have emotions, i just need to deal with them effectively. Healing self-talk during these times has been helpful.
6. Treat others with respect and dignity at all times.
This has a lot to due with the last paragraph. i have wounded Maximus; He is feeling pain and loss too, trying to both heal and protect Himself. i need to respect what He needs and realize that He’s not doing that to hurt me back. i respect that He is still here, that He did not end our relationship, and i give Him the benefit of the doubt. i will use the little things that return and celebrate them.
Potter-Efron suggests the Five As for ways to be respectful:
Attend: Take time to really listen and give complete attention.
Appreciate: Like what Maximus does and how He does things.
Accept: Maximus does not have to change, He’s okay how He is.
Admire: i can learn from Maximus. He does things with grace and skill. He has dealt with past abandonment which, in many ways, were so much worse than i encountered, and doesn’t resort to raging. i admire that and wish to learn from Him.
Affirm: i am so happy that Maximus is part of my life. i cannot imagine my life without Him. i want to celebrate our lives together and embrace GOT every day.
7. Give praise instead of criticism.
i will stop looking for something wrong. i will notice thoughtfulness, creativity, generosity, appearance, individuality, intelligence, and accomplishments and then give praise for it.
8. Surround yourself with people who treat you respectfully.
i do this and will continue to do this.
9. Watch for relapse signs that your shame rage is getting out of control.
i will monitor the self-talk and the feelings of anxiety that come with dealing with the aftermath of these raging incidents. When i feel them growing beyond simple emotional responses, i will work to calm myself down, breathe, not let the emotions go out of control, take a time out, ask for space, do something else to occupy my mind and feel fulfilled.
And never, never give up on myself. i can do this.
Believe that we will heal. Believe that we will be stronger together. Be patient in the process.