Is it okay to still be angry at an abuser?

“Anger will eat you up.” “Just move on.”

I still hear advice like this periodically. Not often, and not by my therapist, but periodically.

It pretty much comes across as, “Geez, just get over it. Aren’t you healed yet?”

I wrote a post about “Forgiving an abusive parent”  in April of last year–it seems so long and not that long ago at the same time. In it, I spoke of how I wasn’t ready to forgive my father. Not yet. And I wasn’t able to forgive my mother for her enabler role yet, either. And at the time, I wasn’t in therapy.

Extenuating circumstances, like my nervous breakdown last spring, landed me in therapy again. A person I deal with frequently, frequently triggers my PTSD. And I’ve made good strides thanks to the fact I finally found a therapist that meshes with my needs.

But I still am angry.

It’s not an all-consuming anger, nor is it all-encompassing. I remember the good times. I cry for the little ones. Anger just surfaces occasionally with some memories.

I still have dreams about my parents where I’m yelling at them. I used to run away from my dad in my dreams, and then as I gained confidence, I started yelling at him in the dreams. And then my mom, who always was in the background of the old dreams, started coming to the foreground to stop me from standing up to dad. I then started talking to her in the dreams. Trying to convince her that what dad is doing (being emotionally and verbally abusive to the little siblings) is wrong. And sometimes it escalated to yelling, as in, “MOM, IT IS ABUSE!” while she tries to explain it away. Smooth it over. Pretend it didn’t happen.

My dreams are actually a pretty good indicator of my healing process. I’m not there yet. Sometimes I feel ashamed that I’m not “there,” wherever “there” is. What is being “healed” like? All I know is that whatever I am feeling now, wherever I am, I am not healed yet. The wounds are still closing. Well, they’re pretty much scabbed over, and the scabs are coming off in some places, but it’s still incredibly tender and sensitive.

I’m still angry at the thing that gave me these emotional wounds. Angry that the one person who really could have done something, did nothing about it.

I know my mom grew up in a dysfunctional home, but I don’t know that much about it beyond the fact that her parents were both heavy drinkers and smokers, and that her mom was a control freak who never really liked my mom. I know it’s easy to fall in love and marry someone who is similar to your abusive upbringing. (I still am amazed that my husband and his family are NOTHING like mine. It would have been so, so easy to marry into abuse.)

But when she had me and my siblings–doesn’t the motherly instinct kick in? I know dad yelled at her angrily for a long time (usually close to an hour) every time she dared stand up to him in the small ways. She used to kinda sorta stand up for us before she “gave up.” Me? Like hell would I let anyone abuse my future kids. That’s prime time to throw the abuser’s stuff outside and change the locks and call the police.

So, why didn’t my mom do that? Why?

I said as much the other day on my Facebook page, which led to me telling someone that compromising with a spouse on relocation and other things is nothing like compromising kids’ mental heath and well-being.

So, forgive me, because I still find myself occasionally feeling what I consider to be justified anger at my parents. I don’t thing about it very often, but I sometimes still do. My dad has the direct anger, causing me to think, “what a freaking asshole.”

My mom has the more complex sad-anger. “I understand you didn’t have healthy adult models in your parents, but still, why didn’t you protect us? You better be doing better by my little siblings for their sake…even though I already know you won’t. So I’m angry and sad and wistful at the same time.”

Thanks to therapy, I have improved greatly, but I also know I have a ways to go. Maybe someday I can forgive. Not reconcile, but to forgive, as I discussed in my old blog post. For now, I need to allow myself anger in order to acknowledge the abuse, to let myself talk about it, to help me move on.

So, for those who think I should forgive and move on, please understand that I know where you’re coming from. I know that most of you who tell me such are older and have more experience. I know that some of you have vastly different approaches to your own negative experiences. You probably healed at varying rates, too, depending on the circumstances.

Healing is my goal, don’t worry. However, the path to it is uneven and rough, and my path is not necessarily similar or identical to your path. We have similar waypoints, to be sure, but varying distances between said waypoints of recovery. Please let me do my thing. I have a therapist, a psychiatrist, and a supportive husband, so I will get there. Just be patient, and thank you for your continued support.


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