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Six Ways To Move Beyond Anger and Injustice After Narcissistic and Scapegoating Abuse

Injustice can stall us halfway through our stories of recovery. We have grieved the pain and losses, and we have worked on finding our voice, but when that wall of injustice hits us it’s like we are left stranded in the middle of our bridge; stuck trying to move away from our past but unable to move towards our future.

Many of us have given up on having a happy ending. Many of us don’t know much outside of survival mode anymore. Our stories had difficult beginnings, messy middles and now we are wondering what doom and gloom awaits us at the end.

So much has been shattered, how can we expect joy?

How can we even think about real happiness when we can’t get past the injustice of what happened to us?

This is understandable. Anger and rage are necessary and commended. After all, up until now, you may have been thinking this was all your fault. That you just needed to be better. The fact that you feel anger is a good sign; you are turning your pain outwards, towards where it originated.

It was not ok how you were treated. Feeling anger and rage affirms that you know your worth; That you know you deserved more.

Why Anger Is Often The Longest Layover

Anger creates community. It is a way to bond and experience a connection with others that was sorely lacking for us growing up. Anger is also a powerful validation tool; When we hear of other people’s anger about their experiences, that sound so much like our own lives, we know that we are justified in feeling our feelings too. We know that what we went through wasn’t our responsibility, and we can start to let go of some of the burden of carrying it for our “families”. Anger is a testament to our worth; If we weren’t angry, I would be wondering why.

But anger is also just a stage in the healing. It is not the destination itself. Sure, it’s a stage that revisits us from time to time; it’s not expected that such an important emotion be experienced only once and then never again. In fact, as we recover we will discover new injustices that we hadn’t realized before and the anger will climb right back in beside us and snuggle up tight.

It’s OK to snuggle it right back, just long enough to make sure it was heard and thanked for its service.

But then, we need to keep taking the next step. And this is where many people falter.

Anger is intoxicating because of how strongly it connects us to others. It helps us feel seen. It helps us feel like we belong; like we matter. But it also connects us to our pain. Our pain was something we had to numb out or distance ourselves from for far too long. Anger allows us to access it again, but in a way that is less direct than feeling the weight of the pain full on. Anger allows us to sit beside our pain, but not look at it or feel it too closely. As such, it can seem compelling to just settle in anger for a while. Forever, even.

Anger Is Just The Reflection

Anger isn’t the core emotion. It is just a reaction to the wounds of betrayal, injustice, and hypocrisy. It is the tip of the iceberg. Anger is an expression of the true emotional anchors of grief, loss, and fear. The emotions that lie underneath the surface.

Only addressing the top of the iceberg is what sunk the Titanic. If we want to ensure a successful journey for you — a story with a wonderful ending — we need to examine what’s lurking below.

Let’s start by examining injustice. In this article, I share six strategies you can use to help move through injustice (and the anger that is keeping you trapped in it). In a previous article, I discussed in depth the experience of injustice and why it is one of the biggest roadblocks for those who have survived narcissistic or scapegoat attachment wounding. Let’s now explore ways to move forward even if you never get the validation or vindication you need and deserve.

Alternatives to Raging Forever

When the rules of grief don’t apply because our wounds are not recognized by others; when the betrayals happen by the very people meant to love and support us the most; and when the hypocrisy and injustice are enough to make you genuinely question your sanity, then you need concrete steps and strategies to help you out of the fog. Conventional strategies simply don’t work. You can’t “talk it out” with a toxic family and expect them to have any insight into the dysfunction, or any interest in changing it. There is no closure. There is no clean or clear end to this story. There is only you, drifting, wondering where to go and how to get there.

Let these following six strategies be a beacon or lighthouse for you, guiding you in from the storm.

Connect

There is no greater healing than connection with safe and loving others. Some of your connections may stem from anger! That’s great. Find your angry spaces. But also find your safe and loving spaces. Find your people and get to know them (and yourself along the way). Learn to let yourself be loved. This is a slow burn. Don’t rush in. When we try to connect too fast or too deeply we don’t usually ask ourselves if these are even the people we want in our life. Take time to assess them! You’ve spent so much time contorting yourself for others, it’s time to see who is magnetized towards you. And you can only do that by being 100% authentically yourself. Try new things. Go do the activities that bring you joy. And see who shows up and sticks around.

Create

Create art. Create meaning. Create purpose. Create ideas. Create writing. Create life. Create hope. Create fantasy. Create magic. Maybe it’s gardening — nurturing new growth and plant life. Maybe it’s painting or sketch. Maybe it’s comedy or sewing or carpentry or philosophy. What are you here for? It wasn’t an accident. What do you genuinely love to do? If you are not sure, start creating. Work with your hands and your mind. Cook. Join classes. Learn. Read. Let your imagination start creating for you the possibility of a future that looks different from the life you currently have. As a bonus, being actively creative is genuinely therapeutic, meditative, and an excellent way to break the loop of constantly talking about and thinking about your pains. As such, it literally builds new neural pathways that shift your brain towards different ways of being, opening up all sorts of possibilities for hope and happiness.

Care

About yourself and others. This means being compassionate to your pain. Listening to your anger and sadness the way you would listen to a friend. Care about your basic needs. Care about your nutrition and sleep and sensory experiences and hygiene. This isn’t about looking a certain way, this is about honouring your core needs for food, shelter, hugs, tears, socks, shoes, and sweaters. Are you paying attention to yourself? Are you listening to your body? Are you giving your mind a rest from the ruminations? Are you being gentle with yourself the way you have been gentle with everyone else around you your whole life? And yes, you can still care for others even when you start putting yourself first. Love your children or students or pets. Smile for the clerk at the grocery store. Acknowledge the homeless person on the street, or buy them a coffee. They are people who deserve love and dignity. Care about the planet and the world and diversity and those around you. Love is abundant. The greatest way to know what it truly feels like is to start giving it out.

Curious

What do you want out of life? Who do you want to be as a person? How do you want to show up in relationships or at work? Get curious. Fantasise. Explore. What are you feeling? What is that pain in your body? What is that joyful moment? Why am I crying? What is that ache in my soul trying to tell me or teach me? What is the lesson and what is the opportunity? Get to know what your body, heart, mind or spirit are trying to share with you. Listen deeply. And what about others? Where are people coming from? What else could be behind the way they talked to you? It’s not about accepting toxic communication, it’s about using curiosity to distance yourself and de-personalize what they are slinging at you. Curiosity helps you know it’s not about you, it’s about them. Curiosity is the antidote to panic. Slow down and start asking questions. What is going on? How do I want to respond? What do I need at this very moment?

Contribute

Of all the things on this list, contributing to society is the one strategy that I have seen have the greatest impact on recovering from betrayal trauma, injustice that will never be resolved, and moral injury. It is very simple: give to others. Give to the world. Contribute to society in positive, inclusive, loving and affirming ways. Give to charity, volunteer, and help others in need for no other reason than to give. If you have the funds, donate to a human who could use it via a Go Fund Me or a Patreon or just give to the food bank or a school breakfast program. Or donate your time and love at an animal shelter, or seniors residence, or just help the older gentleman down the street get his groceries and carry them home. Pay for the person in line behind you. Bring tea to the nurses on the night shift. These are all just examples. There are endless possibilities for how we can contribute to making this world better and brighter and more loving, safe and accepting for all.

And though it’s a bit of a side note, I want to say so many survivors of attachment abuse have been led to believe they are greedy, ungrateful, selfish, needy, or narcissistic. Giving back isn’t about proving to others how loving and great you are. But it may help remind you just how grateful selfless, and generous you are and always have been. Giving back is about silently creating a better world regardless of who notices because it is healing for others and healing for you.

Celebrate

Finally, celebrate everything. Certainly celebrate your wins, but also celebrate every excruciating step along the way even if that step felt a bit more like a circle or backwards amble. Celebrate that today you had time to wash your hair. Or that you did manage to brush your teeth for a week straight. Or booked that appointment that you’ve been putting off. Celebrate that you’re eating your favourite food tonight or that song that just came on the radio is such a jam. Celebrate your friend who is totally winning at life. And celebrate your friend who is in the pit with you. Celebrate how great that shirt looks on you and celebrate your freedom, especially when that freedom has come at such an awful price. Everything can be cause for a party, a toast, or a quiet pat on the back. Don’t deny yourself. You were denied for far too long. Your joy was threatening to others and so you squashed it. No more! Find your joy and build it into each day. You literally only have this moment. A dear friend created a bumper sticker when going through chemo that reads “Don’t Postpone Joy”. I take that to heart because most of us already postponed enough of our lives.

Your time is now.

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