Raging against the Machine

Posted on | June 7, 2011 | 25 Comments

Every now and again… like maybe every third day or perhaps every third hour or, okay twice a minute, I become fully consumed by what can only be called the ragiest of rages.  We’re talking a rage that results in me wishing I could claw the skin off of “someone’s” face and play banjo with their facial tendons. 

I’ve tried really hard to stay away from discussing this rage because it feels so …unholy.  It feels like something that should not be discussed.  It is something I am embarrassed by; something I don’t want people to know about… something dark and not very “me” at all.  Sadness seems like a friendlier emotion… people can relate to sadness and they can feel sorry for you and pat you on the back and maybe buy you a cookie.  But rage? Rage is not a friendly emotion.  No one wants to be around the angry b*tch. So I pretend it isn’t there.  I pretend the tears are sad, not little watery pockets of hatred hurling themselves from my eyes.

 But the more I try to avoid it, the more it creeps into my mind, coloring my interactions with people and my ability to be the best me I can be.  And I want to be a very good me.  In fact, that’s part of where the rage tickles at me… it wants me to be better than good.  It wants  me to look better than the best, smile brighter than the rest, and in general show the world that it is HIM who lost out here and not me.

And I know that it springs from my embarrassment.  It springs from my self-conceived failings… failed as a wife, in every way.  It springs from a desire to crush those  feelings of failure and then sprinkle them, shard by shard, into an open wound that he must have, somewhere. 

I am ashamed to admit it, but I want my soon to be ex-husband to suffer in the most terrible ways.

Let me clarify that I do not wish any physical harm on him.  I have no intention of actually ripping his skin off and tweaking his tendons.  I just want to feel, without a doubt, that I am hurting less than him and that he is suffering from the loss of me and the loss of his role as a full-time father.  I don’t doubt that he misses his son.  I would never doubt that.  But I do not believe he misses me at all… and it is that belief that fosters this powerful rage I can’t seem to get rid of.

I’ve tried to pray about it.

I’ve tried to write it down and throw it away where J can’t see it.

I’ve tried to supress it and sugarcoat it and will it away.

But it will not go.

And when I am forced into conversation with him amidst my rage, I say things that I hope will hurt him.  I say things that I would never say if I weren’t deep in the throes of another spell of anger so heavy that the weight of it brings tears to my eyes.  I say things that I have to apologize for later, not because he deserves my apology, but because that’s who I am… it’s what I do.  (I was raised Southern Baptist. We apologize for our mistakes, other people’s mistakes, and often things that aren’t a mistake at all. All the time.)  When I get his texts, or calls, or emails… which, by the way, were coming every day until (hopefully) an explosive email exchange during one of my not-so-pretty moments…  my first thought is “Why?” My second thought is almost always hateful and my third thought usually circles the drain of expletive anger and claws-out violence.  I want him to hurt.  There. I said it.  I want him to have miserable days where he wishes he could turn back time and fix our marriage.  I want him to sit alone in a dark room and cry over what he did to me and to our supposed love.

But I can’t make him hurt, even as much as I want to.   I can’t make him feel remorse or sorrow or really anything other than the all-encompassing self-entitlement that he wears like a gaudy and tattered cape around his shoulders.

And so I funnel the rage into tears.  I try to submerge the hatred in something that smells prettier, like disdain or maybe even pity.  But it is still rage.  I know that it is.

I wish there were a way to pound out this rage; to turn it into something positive and good like little anger ornaments for orphan Christmas trees or something.  Because I can’t keep wading through it. I am becoming someone I am not.  I am becoming someone I do not like.

I am becoming… him.


25 Responses to “Raging against the Machine”

  1. Amanda
    June 7th, 2011 @ 9:02 am

    I understand how you feel. The frustration in knowing that you can never hurt him the way he hurt you is enough to make you feel like a black hole sucking in everything bad. Everything that he ever did or ever could do to make you feel…well, just feel. Because it will never be that way for him. It’s the only thing that really makes me feel powerless.

    You won’t become him. This will only prove how much better you are than him because you feel and you acknowledge how you feel. No matter how much he ever made you hurt, you will always have the upper hand.

  2. TarynE
    June 7th, 2011 @ 9:05 am

    Rage (and the ensuing tears) are what make us human. They’re what make us FEEL. You ARE NOT becoming your ex. He isn’t feeling the sadness, the rage, the tears, the hurt that you are feeling. The anger at wanting him to feel just as bad as you do… it will pass. It may take awhile, but it WILL pass. And you’ll wonder why you had all that anger in the first place, b/c he wasn’t worth it. In the meantime, funnel that rage into something productive… gardening, pushing J in a stroller while you jog, anything physical 🙂 Hell, invest in a punching bag! 🙂 no matter what, we’re here for you!!!

  3. Savgypsy
    June 7th, 2011 @ 9:11 am

    If J has finger paints, I want you to take time after he goes to bed, to paint your rage!!!! Creating a visual image of it may help you let it go… Or at least relieve some of the tension, it only hurts you.

    That said, it’s understandable, normal, etc,….and it’s part of the normal grieving process!

  4. 'Lizbeth
    June 7th, 2011 @ 9:14 am

    You are NOT becoming him! You are brave. You are honest – even in the most trying of times. And you have integrity. Thank you for your strength and candor. Don’t apologize for that!

  5. Jenn
    June 7th, 2011 @ 9:34 am

    Sweetie you’re human. You’re not becoming your ex…you’re just really angry and that’s okay. It’s going to take some time to get over everything because you’ve been terribly hurt. But being angry is normal. It sounds like it’s bothering you because you don’t like hurting people…even the one who’s hurt you the most. I’m wondering if giving yourself permission to just be angry for a few minutes a day without beating yourself up over it would be helpful. But really, try to stop being so hard on yourself. And venting is good for you, so don’t worry about hiding it from your close friends (or blog readers.) We’re here for you 🙂

  6. R's Mom
    June 7th, 2011 @ 9:58 am

    Okay, let’s deal with the last part of your post first…you are not becoming him. Repeat that to yourself. You are not becoming him. The mere fact that you are having these feelings of hating the rage shows that you are not becoming him.

    I think the rage is normal. As cliche as it sounds, you are going through the cycle of grief. And anger (in your case rage) is a normal part of it. And honestly? It sounds healthy to me. Healthy in the sense that you are moving past the sadness…moving past the trying to fix things. Because you didn’t break anything. He did. And you are angry about it. And to me, it speaks to you recognizing that you did not deserve to be treated the way you were treated.

    I understand the need to want him to hurt more than you. But you can’t control that. And who knows what he’s feeling on the inside. And if you’re like most women I know (including myself) and he’s like most men I know, you wear your heart and your emotions on your sleeve, and he internalizes them. When my husband & I were separated, it turns out that he was miserable…but I wouldn’t have known it just from looking at him, because he appeared to be carrying on with life without me just fine. My constant red puffy eyes, on the other hand, were a flashing signal to all who looked at me that I was miserable.

    I say embrace the rage. Not forever, and not to be destructive. But get it out of your system. You are angry. You have every right to be angry. So don’t fight those emotions. You’ll get past them. And eventually you’ll get to a place where you don’t feel anger or sadness…a place where his emotions and feelings don’t really have any place in your life.


  7. Dre
    June 7th, 2011 @ 10:28 am

    Rage is perfectly understandable here. You are more than entitled to feel it, and should not be ashamed of that feeling. Keeping it trapped down will only eat away at you and make things worse, and make it explode out of you once it is bottled up too long. I am trying to think of a way to express and get the rage out there without being destructive. While I myself hate any type of exercise, I wonder if your lovely little house has a basement where you could put a punching bag? Perhaps you could get one of those kick-boxing videos and channel the rage into beating the crap out of a punching bag, while getting a workout in? Sounds kinda silly, I know, but maybe the physical release would help? Regardless, I am so sorry that you even have to deal with the rage. You did nothing to deserve this. And take comfort in the fact that karma’s a bitch.

  8. Carrie
    June 7th, 2011 @ 10:32 am

    I completely understand. After my soon to be ex left, and way too often even now, I had feelings of rage that actually frightened me. It was all consuming and definitely not something that I identified with me. I found a pretty good formula that helped, and helps, me deal with it though. I have a 100 pound punching bag downstairs, boxing gloves, and I developed some wraps to protect my wrists…that’s step one. Step two is a little tougher but I sit and picture myself in a sunlit field with waving grass until I can actually feel the breeze. Step three is to write the AH a letter…not one he will ever receive but one that I dump everything into…then, I read it out loud. Now, this can be a very long process at times and sometimes it goes over a couple of days but it actually has helped me a lot. Rage is normal and healthy as long as you deal with it in a healthy way.

    I like to think it is there to keep me going and in the fight that is life. You’re a fighter…it’s just not always easy to remember when you feel like the punching bag. It will get better and you’ll look back and be amazed at how strong you really are.

  9. Cara
    June 7th, 2011 @ 10:41 am

    I agree with the others, channel it into something physical and it will pass. I dealt with my ex during the rage phase only through text, never on the phone or in person, because I could let the phone sit until I had it under control to temper my reactions. I have been thinking about you and hoping you find peace sooner rather than later. Hang in there, it will come.

  10. MamaBHive
    June 7th, 2011 @ 10:48 am

    You will never become HIM.

    You most certainly did NOT fail as a wife in any shape or form! He was lying to himself this whole time (before the divorce) and therefore could only lie to you. The whole affair was set up for disaster, without your knowledge nor consent. It makes me wonder sometimes why there are not stronger penalties for breaking a marriage contract. Maybe the contracts need to be re-drawn? Women need to unite over this. Money just isn’t enough. Anyhow, I digress.

    Although your rage is disturbing to you, take heart in knowing that expressing it through creative outlets (like writing) is very helpful in the long-run.

    Try this: OWN your Rage. Don’t let your emotions carry you away – you grab onto it and RIDE it. Direct the flow. Master it, and then you can grow through that mastery. It isn’t easy, and it isn’t pretty. But being human is a dirty job, and you’ve got to do it.


  11. MamaBHive
    June 7th, 2011 @ 10:51 am

    BTW, I thoroughly enjoy reading your stories. You make me want to be a better writer.



  12. IdahoGirl
    June 7th, 2011 @ 11:16 am

    I think R’s Mom nailed it on the head….

    And I want to echo what MamaBHive said….I thoroughly enjoy reading you too. It makes me want to blog more, but my family reads my blog. I could never be as honest as you are.

    You have the RIGHT to be angry. You have the right to rage. It’s bad enough that he’s not fought for his marriage and tried hard enough to fix it….but constantly contacting you? And you’ve mentioned this before…but you have the right to be angry for J too. How dare he! That’s what I’d be thinking….that my anger, my rage was justified for some period of time.

    Embrace that for now and because you are one who seeks growth, you’ll move past it in your own time.

    Hang in there.

  13. Lola
    June 7th, 2011 @ 11:37 am

    So, you’re moving through the grieving process just fine, if that helps at all. Echoing the comments above, you did not fail, he did.

    I still sometimes wish my ex would get hit by a bus, but my greatest weapon is silence when he least expects it. I am not a silent person … at all; but I found that when I met angst with silence something odd happened. I regained the power within myself and that power is incredible and fierce. It also did a great job of setting him off kilter and pulled the wind right out of his sails. There’s a bit of wicked pleasure involved in that.

    The anger doesn’t go anywhere fast. You kind of have to wait that out and it may mean you run down the street shrieking your head off once in awhile, but it too shall pass.

    Through everything you’re writing, there is such grace and clarity – the beauty that is you is still in there. And the beauty in you will only become more radiant with this process.

  14. Lola
    June 7th, 2011 @ 11:40 am

    PS I agree with Dre. Karma is a bitch .. and she’s my friend. 🙂

  15. Abigail
    June 7th, 2011 @ 1:01 pm

    What is it with these exes? Do they think that just b/c five minutes has passed since they threw our lives a huge curveball we just want to chat and be all friend-like with them? My ex interrupted me while I was telling him about our son’s weekend (which he decided he did not want to be a part of b/c he had two bike rides and a birthday dinner to attend) to tell me all about his weekend and the restaurant he went to and all the errands he ran. I couldn’t even vacuum or go to the grocery store! I had wet towels mildewing on my basement floor from swim lessons b/c I had no time to do anything except pay attention to my son and he wants to talk about how upsetting it was that someone bought him a shot at the bar?????
    I guess my point is this: it’s ok to rage. These are men who didn’t take our feelings into consideration when we were together so of course they won’t now that we’re not. They had moved on before we even knew they were having second thoughts. We’re not caught up to them yet in the process. But even when we’re 100% over it, they’ll still piss us off. They’re men after all.

  16. Nellie
    June 7th, 2011 @ 1:38 pm

    Hey there, stop being so hard on yourself. This is all so new to you. You’ve been on the emotional equivalent of a trip through a blender. I can’t imagine being in your shoes and not feeling an all consuming rage. It is amazing to me that you can be so eloquent and coherent at this point.

    I firmly believe that the best revenge is a life lived well. You cannot direct how he feels, but you can help yourself feel better. Do things you love, be with people who love you, and you’ll get through the anger.

    You are not becoming him, The reason I know this is that when you do something hateful you feel wrong, you apologize, you make amends, you have a good, big heart and you are so much better than him.

  17. Mom on a Line
    June 7th, 2011 @ 1:52 pm

    Rage is acceptable and expected. If you didn’t feel it, you’d likely be in denial. Knowing you are enraged will help you move passed it when you are ready. Knowing you are enraged and owning it will help you to control the rage during the situations that end up making you feel bad because you shouldn’t have to feel worse. Admitting you are enraged will help you in the long run be who you want to be again. It takes time.

  18. Tara@Do These Kids Make Me Look Crazy?
    June 7th, 2011 @ 2:30 pm

    I think you have to give yourself times to experience the rage. Own it. If you try to deny it, I think it will always be lurking. I think it’s what you do with the rage that can be really destructive, you know? But he’s got to understand that your anger is a natural consequence of his behavior, and it’s to be expected.

  19. Jennifer
    June 7th, 2011 @ 8:06 pm

    Kickboxing. You need to find a kickboxing class like right now.

  20. Sympathetic Reader
    June 7th, 2011 @ 9:04 pm

    You’re feelings are totally normal. He will get his, one day. The revenge is living well!

  21. Jessica @ Raising an Owlet
    June 7th, 2011 @ 11:11 pm

    You are not becoming him. You are dealing with the fact that he is not with you anymore. And everything that comes with it. Sadness, frustration, and rage.

    I agree with what someone else said. You need to do some art. Take some finger paints, or regular paints, crayons, markers, whatever you want, and get the rage out. paint/draw whatever you’re feeling, all those emotions. Don’t judge what you’re doing, just do it. If it’s sh*t when you’re done, throw it away. or don’t.

    There’s also a book that my therapist recommended to me a ways back called “When anger scares you.” You might want to take a look at it. or not. 🙂

  22. strugglingforeverafter
    June 7th, 2011 @ 11:14 pm

    I think Jennifer is on to a good idea. We love our local Y and they have great childcare during the classes.

    I say don’t respond to the emails/texts unless they are having to do with visitation. You are not his friend.

    And yes, I think rage is perfectly acceptable. Even normal. Have at it.

  23. Aly
    June 7th, 2011 @ 11:30 pm

    Oh, man, I could still rage at my ex-husband for leaving me and my then 2 year-old son. And you know what? I am now happily remarried with 2 little girls in addition to my awesome 9 year old. I can get along with the ex fine but I could still really rip him a new one for what he did. But thank jeebus he did leave! He wasn’t man enough for me. (I think they subconsciously know this -that they don’t deserve what they have so they sabotage it.)

    There are some things that are deserving of rage and one of them is a “man” who leaves his family. I say, rage away. Rage until you feel better.

    Hugs. It gets a lot better, I promise.

  24. Sam
    June 9th, 2011 @ 9:33 am

    I have been divorced twice now and I completely relate to this post. It is exhausting enough to go through a divorce just with the logistics of it all (changing routines, houses, rooms, taking on all the chores, taking on all the work, etc) and then when you add feelings to the mix? OMG its just awful. I use to sit in my boy’s room on the floor and cry my eyes out at night, watching them in their crib & toddler bed (they are irish twins) and think about how I failed them. But you know what? We have no control over other people’s emotions, thoughts, etc. And your ex is not going to open up and show you his pain, or his feelings of failure, because you are now on different teams emotionally. Here is my advice: 1) set up a new free email (I like gmail) and give him your new addy. Or if he won’t use it, give it to everyone else. Once a week you can check for emails from him (and tell him that), but don’t do it every day. Don’t let him take up more of your time for emotional warfare. Also, stop answering his calls. Don’t even listen to the voicemails. You are now the bodyguard for your heart, so you have to protect your heart by screening who gets through. (Unless he has your son with him, then you take every call). My ex loves to attack me on the phone. He is very careful on email because my lawyer got the judge to allow having the ex read his nasty text messages to me OUT LOUD at our hearing. (Like the text where he called my 9 yo daughter a “cunt, just like her mother”. Lovely guy.) 2) Stop expecting him to be the nice guy you married. You are both in a battle right now, so you have to let go of who you knew and realize you are fighting someone right now who wants to hurt you, even if just for a little while. Protect your heart, protect your relationship with your child. 3) Do what you can to be a nice person. For you and for your son. Years later I have validation that most of his family knows I am the one who tries to be a good person, while he is still spouting eviliness. (Is that a word? No? It should be!) But more importantly my kids know I love them, they see it through the time I have spend with them (like your book reading rituals-awesome snuggle time!) and I hear it in their feedback “I know you would never do something so rude Mommy. Why does he?” 4) Never bash your ex, and if you lose your cool and go off on your ex in front of your kids, apologize to everyone of them individually later and explain why that was wrong. Then apologize to your ex. Suck it up, because that is a huge important life lesson. Like you mentioned about being ssouthern and accepting your responsibility, you have to teach it to the kids. 5) MOST IMPORTANT: schedule weekly YOU time. In my busiest, most crazy period of life where I literally worked myself to exhaustion and had no time for myself, let alone friends, this time was my lunch hour. 5 hours a week, 1 day I would spend lunchtime doing errands, but the other 4? Oh no, me and my current favorite book would take my bag lunch and go sit at a park and read, nonstop, for 45 minutes. I love to read, so having the opportunity to sit uninterrupted for 45 mins and jump into another world? Pure heaven for me. Every once in while I would get a pedicure instead. Whatever. The point is to recharge your batteries and don’t lose yourself in the mix. Because in order to be SuperMom the rest of the 23 hours/7 days a week you have to be strong for yourself first! Ok this was really, really long, but I hope you get through ok and great things will happen when you can work through the icky emotions and not hide from them!

  25. Fancy
    June 9th, 2011 @ 1:48 pm

    I was raging against the machine yesterday. I was literally vibrating at certain times throughout the day.

    Stayed at work late to get myself organized for the next day. Now, it IS the next day and last night helped a lot.

    No rage today…. So far.

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