“You must choose between resentment and anger on the one hand and healing on the other; you cannot do both…Resentment and anger have amphetamine and analgesic effects. They provide an immediate surge of energy and numbing of pain – a feeling of physical power – to replace the powerlessness and vulnerability of whatever core hurts have been stimulated at the time. But as with any other amphetamine, you get a surge of energy and confidence from resentment and anger, but then you crash. They always drop you down lower than the point at which they picked you up. When you get resentful or angry, you get depressed afterward (this goes in a cycle, and)…pretty soon your brain begins to look for things to get resentful about just to militate out of your depressed mood.”
-Steven Stosny, in You Don’t Have to Take It Anymore: Turn Your Resentful, Angry, or Emotionally Abusive Relationship into a Compassionate, Loving One p. 101-102
Anger or Healing? You Can’t Do Both
I would never tell anyone they shouldn’t be angry. Anger in itself isn’t threatening – it’s simply a signal that something needs to be attended to. But how we hold on to and express that anger is a different matter. There are constructive ways to express what makes us angry, and destructive ways.
Sadly, anger in ADHD-impacted relationships can become pervasive and chronic. When it does, it’s physically toxic to the person who holds it. The stress chronic anger and frustration create quite literally shortens your life.
It is a common mistake to believe that by using your anger (for example, bullying your partner to do something) you can solve the issues created when ADHD is present. When either of you hang on to anger, and use it to create change, you not only send the recipient into fight or flight mode (commonly expressed as defensiveness) you also prevent yourself from healing.
As Stosny notes, you cannot both be chronically angry and heal.
Your healing is important. I urge you to utilize healthy ways to express angry feelings calmly and, perhaps, work with a professional to help work through anger, resentment, and more. For a good starting place, consider reading Harriet Lerner’s Dance of Anger or taking my couple’s seminar.
LIVE Couples Phone Seminar with Melissa Orlov - The ADHD Effect on Marriage - 8 sessions, plus one bonus, starts September 16, 2020. If you or your partner has ADHD, you probably have tried to work on improving your relationship, but may not have been successful. Traditional counseling does not address the effects of ADHD, leaving you frustrated and incredulous that you have gotten to this point and haven't been able to make things better. I provide understanding and concrete ideas to help couples re-balance their relationships. Don't delay, it starts September 16th. Learn more.
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