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Having a Chronic Illness Does Not Give You a Pass to Take Out Anger on Loved Ones

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Pain and illness are not valid excuses for anger and verbal abuse. They don’t give a free pass to take out anger on innocent people. Even if they are your spouse or family members.

Just as pain caused by a previous relationship doesn’t give an excuse to verbally abuse a new partner, neither does pain caused by illness. It’s not OK.


It happens. I understand that and I can understand why it happens, but that does not mean it’s OK. That does not mean it should be accepted and excused by anyone.

I see a lot online about this. About how it’s just natural that anger is taken out on the spouse or the children, even when they’ve done nothing wrong, because the pain and illness become too much to handle. They snap. They yell. They are angry. And it’s talked about as though it’s to be expected.

It’s also often talked about as though the person being verbally abused should be fine with it. That they should be sympathetic and understanding. That they should feel sorry for the person who is throwing their anger all over them for no reason. It’s as though the victim would be an awful person if they weren’t kind and accepting about it.

In my opinion that’s wrong. Someone can understand why someone is getting angry and treating them poorly without having to accept it and agree to a life of walking on eggshells.

Anyone who is having issues controlling their anger due to the constant trials of chronic illness and pain would benefit from finding new, healthier ways of coping. Whether that’s through therapy or other means, I believe it’s something that should be worked on, and addressing this in a proactive way will make everyone happier. Including the person who is ill and in pain.

Anyone who is being verbally attacked deserves to see that the person attacking them is working to find ways to stop it. The person being attacked should not be expected to go along with it. They should not be made to feel like it’s just a part of their life now and something they will always have to deal with. It’s not fair.

Taking anger out on someone who has done absolutely nothing to merit it is harmful. It causes them to live a very stressful, unpredictable life. Never knowing when they will be yelled at. Never knowing when they will be verbally attacked. Constantly waiting for the next storm of anger to come at them. That has an enormous impact on a person.

They may feel helpless, because there’s nothing they can do to minimize the possibility. There’s no way for them to predict when it will happen because it has nothing to do with them. And if no work is being done to try to address the problem, they have the depressing knowledge that their life will always have this anger looming.

I know it is incredibly hard to be sick and in pain all the time. I’m also in pain and sick all the time. I understand why this anger can happen, I just strongly believe it should be addressed, not accepted.

Instead of expecting others to lovingly deal with it, it would be kinder to loved ones to go to counseling and find ways to cope better, ways to reduce or stop the undeserved anger. It’s worth it to find some new coping techniques that don’t involve hurting those we love.

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Thinkstock photo via ONimages.

Originally published: August 14, 2017
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