Put Up Your Dukes

My long time friend and her family who took me in to live with them after I lost my place to live. I’d be rich if I had a nickel for every time they said to me, “When are you finally going to get mad at that sorry, no-good [expletives deleted]”. To say that they hate my ex would be the understatement of the century.

And The Answer Is

I always had the same response to their persistent question. Actually, my answer was no response at all—other than to shrug my shoulders. That’s because, frankly, I honestly had no idea when or if I was ever going to be able to feel any anger. That’s because anger was an emotion that I learned to disown long ago.

To say it another way, I was ‘stuck in stupid’ and ‘deep in dumb’—and had been since the 80’s.

So the bottom line was that I didn’t feel, nor was I even looking to vent anger. The only thing I wanted was to stop hurting so badly. For reasons related to my early life and family-of-origin, I was at a disadvantage. At the time when all of this happened, I’d never developed the skills to constructively tap and deal with my [repressed] anger.

Anger isn’t always bad. It one of the steps we move through in the process of healing from pain and hurt. When channeled properly, it energizes us and gives us the indignation to rise up, summon our strength and dignity—and move on. But having anger disabled and therefore greyed out on my menu of options, I was unable to get enough lift to propel myself over my insurmountably high wall of hurt that was at the end of the runway—blocking my progress.

In other words, I was gravely offended, not angry—at least not yet. 

Didn’t Make Sense

Having always thought of myself to be an intelligent woman, I couldn’t reconcile my sudden trip to LaLa Land. And any anger that I was able to muster was turned inward, on myself. Put simply, I loathed myself for being duped and played the way I was. I had to face the fact that for 29 years I’d been a textbook chump. I’d been content to live my life hopelessly in love with a man who turned around and callously thumbed his nose as if to say “Take That!” And, all the while, I absolutely worshipped the ground he walked on.

Into The Abyss … And No, Not The 1989 Deep Sea Movie

I doubt that anyone who knew me well had the slightest inkling that I formed such deep attachments—or that I was a person who could be so easily offended. In childhood, I’d learned to master the fine art of being stoic. I lived a nomadic life as a child—forever shifted from house to house—living where I knew that I was tolerated, never wanted. I became expert at being hyper-vigilant—an expert in donning and wearing a protective gregarious mask for protection and acceptance.

I always felt as if I was an outsider in my own life—an embarrassing fact that I guarded like the gold at Fort Knox.

The Cliff Notes

As a result of my [yet-to-be-discovered] hidden complexes, my husband leaving me for this woman in the manner that he did,  delivered the mortal blow to my [then] identity. Put simply, my husband wounded me on a molecular level. Sadly and regrettably, my identity at the time was that I defined first and foremost as ‘his wife’, and all other roles after that. The shattering of my identity was then further compounded by his disappearance, strict No Contact, lack of explanation, and the very public maligning of me that occurred afterward when I fell apart so publicly.

But, in the end, it made me stronger. And we all know about what they say about what doesn’t kill us, right?  

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone
What doesn’t kill you makes a fighter
Footsteps even lighter
Doesn’t mean I’m over ’cause you’re gone