Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt no go:
Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul. –Proverbs 22:24-25
I chose these two verses because they stood-out in regard to their potential relation of dealing with abusive situations (or avoiding them to preserve our own welfare and health).
It is always difficult to deal with those who have anger issues, especially if it is something they unleash on others. When it is someone we love, we want to find ways to make excuses for them, believe it will get better, or even try to tell ourselves we somehow are the source (thus if we change things about our own selves, they will be happy, and no longer have their issues). Really, none of that is true. We should not ignore the behavior (or blame it on other things), we should not try to lighten the truth of things/ tune-it-out, and we most definitely should not blame our own selves (which is natural, because it gives us a false sense of feeling in control of something that really is not in our control). When allowances and excuses are made for those who have anger/ abusive issues…. all it does is prolong, and increase the amount of damage that they will cause to you, or to others ( if there are children involved who could be harmed either directly, or indirectly via seeing the anger displays, or someone else being hurt or demeaned).
“Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt no go:”
This is very direct ( though I believe “man” can be replaced with person, because really it applies to women as well…..who I know from first-hand experience can have these issues), and bluntly says that we should stay clear of those who have any kind of anger issues. I suspect “furious” is used to describe any kind of violent actions that occur along with angry outbursts. I view this kind of as road signs— “Danger!”, “Do Not Enter!”, “Hazardous Conditions Ahead!”—essentially a direct warning in scripture intended to help us avoid harmful conditions…..physically, emotionally, mentally…. and spiritually ( because anger/ abusive people can hurt us on all of these levels).
Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.
There are so many ways that we can be internally impacted and changed by the behavior, and anger of others. Firstly, it is very possible to slide into their ways, even it is not who we ourselves normally are. Over time, abusive behaviors can become “normalized”…..so we look for ways to adapt to the person and situation. For some it can be to constantly give ourselves over in attempts to appease them, or it could be by taking on some of their traits in order to try to communicate on “their level”, or combat with them. We may find ourselves yelling, and having our own emotional/ angry outbursts because it seems to be the only way to communicate with them. They very well may press and push us to fight with them so that they can better unleash their anger, or even use the response against us (make-out that we are then the bad one). Some people use moody displays, demands, anger etc.. as a way to constantly test others to see if they will comply with them, soothe them, give-in to their demands etc….or even as ploys to prove that they are loved (or as a way to manipulate what they want). They are toxic tactics that should never be ignored, or excused-off as “insecure”, or anything else (meant to “downplay” the issue)…..because they cause harm to others, and are ultimately self-serving. Essentially these are not the signs/ behaviors of a healthy, loving adult…. it means that their interests and motives are more focused on their own needs and wants, no matter what they may say in contrary at other times.
It can really twist us around, and confuse us to have someone seem so charming, sweet, and loving one minute, and then the next have them raging, crying, making demands etc….. We may even put-up with the negative behaviors hoping that the sweet/ charming side is the real them, all the while ignoring the damage caused by having to cater to them, and put our own selves aside. We also may ignore the affect on us from dealing with the stress, and the constant worry that we have to monitor our own selves to prevent them from exploding again. No one wants to believe that someone they love is abusive, or selfish. We sometimes may even try to believe we can fix them. At first, being obliging can seem like the loving thing to do, but overtime if it is an on-going situation it can strip us of our our own sense of self, cause us to lose our sense of worth, and to ignore our own pain and needs. That is not how loving relationships work—- they are supposed to be equal give and take, and support each other’s needs on equal value. One person’s needs, moods, desires, anger etc… should not matter more than the other’s. So essentially, angry individuals can change how we ourselves act, think, feel etc… be it by infecting us with their behaviors, or stripping us down into shadows of ourselves through our tedious efforts to appease them.
The truth is, if a person is not happy in their own self….. we cannot make them happy. We cannot fill what is lacking inside of them. We cannot solve their issues for them. They may think we can, or even should…. but it is impossible. Relationships are meant to help, support, strengthen—but they are not supposed to completely fill someone, give them identity, validation, or be a soul source of happiness ( yet sooo many people seem to think others are the key to solving their inner issues, and run person to person for that reason… always blaming their failed relationships on others). A person has to be able to regulate their own moods, and be happy on their own—-depending on others to do that for them just means sucking the life out of those other people….a constant never-ending drain that will never solve what only they can solve for themselves. This is why it is dangerous for us to be in those kind of situations. They will drain us as long as we let them, and likely not even notice (or care about) the damage that it causes to us.
There are so many types of abuse, and thus so many levels on which we can be damaged. Even words can strip us down inside, and make us doubt our own selves, and feel we are not good enough….. especially if we feel like we are failing to make the other person happy ( and do not see that the real problem is that they themselves have a lacking that only they can fix for their own selves). There is nothing good that can come out of dealing with someone who lashes out in anger in any form…..it always will create damage.
My mother ignored the abusive actions, and anger issues displayed by a man she was engaged to…. and married him anyway. I was the one who ultimately paid the greatest price for that choice. Abuse ( in all forms) can continue to steal our life away from us long after the abuse itself has stopped. It is always best to leave as soon as someone demonstrates destructive, or aggressive behaviors. Some prices should never have to be paid.
As for applying “learning his ways” to my own self….. typically, I am a very calm person mood-wise, despite everything I went through. I do not yell, snap, take things out on others, or in general have negative moods of that kind. At most, I may get a bit quiet and introspective at times, or just want to talk things out that are worrying me. I very rarely feel actual anger, and it takes a lot for me to feel that emotion. However, there is one exception to all of the above. There is a family member who quickly makes me feel tight inside, and on edge….irritated, angry….. I suddenly lose my usual patience, and do not feel like myself. I do not like myself when I am around them. I find myself snapping in responses, and acting impatient with them. This person has this same affect on others, and it largely has to do with their having narcissistic issues that prevents them from considering others, or listening etc… Essentially, they are in their own bubble, and not only do they lack the ability to consider the needs of others, or consider things beyond what they want/ have in mind ( no matter if you tell them repeatedly that it won’t work, or will cause hardships to other people)….but they also can be very vindictive when they feel other people have slighted them in some kind of way (this is my attempt of briefly explaining someone/ a situation that is actually very complex, and has a long history of manipulation, and abuse). The combination of past history with the person, their behaviors, and the struggle to communicate with them etc… drains energy, and causes myself ( and others) to take on similar characteristics….often as last-ditch efforts to get them to listen. For this reason, I have learned the need to distance myself. I have employed it as best as can be done for a long time now, while still taking care of their needs when needed. I still love them, but I had to recognize not only the past damage that they caused to me, but also the negative affect they have on me in the present—the reaction that I have to them that turns me into someone I do not like, or want to be. It is not easy, not in the slightest. At times I even feel guilt for how I feel, and for not being able to help more.. but in the end we just sometimes have to recognize that we may not be able to control others, but we can control things on our end. Sometimes it is imperative that we take the measures needed to protect ourselves from harm…. in various forms. That does not make us bad people, or selfish. It makes us people who love ourselves, and our loved ones enough to do what is necessary to protect, and reduce the potential for harm. Sometimes we truly have no other choice but to step away.
It actually was of great help to me to discover something in scripture that instructs us not to form relationships with those who are angry/ abusive, and to essentially leave/ stay away ( “thou shalt not go”). It even warns of the damage that can be caused to us. It helps confirm to me that I am making the right choice in distancing myself from the family member who can be abusive. I also am glad to have a scripture reference that I can provide to others who are in harmful situations who may feel that they are being selfish, not honoring the other person, or commitments like they think they should….etc…. it just can be a help knowing that even scriptures instruct that we should protect ourselves from those who have anger issues, or are harmful to us.