I Don't Know What's Wrong With Me

by Russell
(Omaha, NE)

I am a 35 year old male, currently separated from my wife and her children who I love as my own. We have been married the past 5 years.

I never saw it, but she said I am just an unhappy person. I didn't realize this until we were separated, but she is right. For the past 3 years I have hardly even smiled, or remember doing anything at the spur of the moment that was fun.



I love them more than anything in the world, and this separation is killing me inside. However I go to work, laugh and joke around with the guys, but I can't seem to do that after I am off work. It doesn't help that I am staying in my parents' basement and neither parent has cared for my wife from day one.

I know I have anger issues but didn't realize till recently some things I did, that I dont even remember doing. Apparently I got angry once and put my fist through the bedroom wall, but don't remember that I did it.

She has cut off all communication between the kids and me. I went and got some clothes the other day, and the only thing the kids could say was what are you doing here? That shattered my heart because I know I hurt them emotionally, but I don't remember what I did to even be separated. All I know is my wife called and said not to be at home when her and the kids get there.

I tell her I love her and she says she doesn't believe it. I'm not sure if it has anything to do with my childhood or what the deal is but I don't remember half the stuff my wife said I did. But I have never laid a hand on them, she did tell me that. I told her I don't remember doing things, but she says I am only saying that.

I remember the kids just being kids and being loud and me yelling at them to knock it off, but that I know I got from when I was a child as we had to be quiet or me and brothers would get beaten. I am the youngest and all I really remember is my parents not happy with me. I didn't get the grades my siblings got. I wasn't as good in sports as my brother--he was a year ahead of me.

I remember my dad went to every cross country, wrestling and track event when I was a junior, but when I was a senior he didn't go to any of them. I get home and he is on the couch watching tv and not even acknowledge anything I did.

The day I graduated high school I was told I have a week to find a place to live. As I sit in the basement, they don't say a word to me just ask when I think I will be out of their house. Maybe that's where the deep-seated angry monster I have become originated--with the lack of concern from my parents. Yes, I know I'm 35, but maybe it's an old anger that I got as a teen.

When I met my wife I was full time in the military. When it came time to move, the kids didn't want to move from their dad. So I got off active duty and did the reserve thing. Ever since then I have yet to find a good paying job, so I feel I don't make enough to support my wife and kids.

I get stressed over the little things as kids making a mess of their rooms. My wife says it's not all about money as long as we can be happy. I find it hard to be happy when we live pay check to paycheck and don't have money to buy the kids things anymore. I do remember I knew I was not in a good mood when I heard my wife and kids in the other room laughing and having a good time.

I don't want to lose my wife and kids but I have this gut feeling its too late. All I want is to be happy and give my wife and kids the life they deserve. Thanks for your time.

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Russell, and thanks for telling your story here. I can tell you're having a hard time, and you want to do the right thing by your wife and children. I will try to help.

First of all, I strongly encourage you to move out of your parents' home. I don't think you're going to feel good about yourself enough to take healthy action until you get your own place. No amount of financial savings from living with them is worth the emotional price you're paying. You've made it clear they don't like your wife and don't want you there. This is just too much of an energy drain on you and your marriage.

Do the three journaling processes you will find on this page. That will help you resolve some of your childhood trauma, heal your anger and begin creating a more positive focus.

Here are some steps to follow to let go of your parents:

1) Write down all of the ways in which you are like your dad. Look at that list and ask yourself if there's any of those qualities or behaviors you want to keep. In other words, choose what you like from the list, and we're going to help you let go of the part you don't like.

2) Then write down all of the ways you are different from your dad. These are the things that make you unique as an individual. Look at this list, and choose what you like from it.

3) Make a third list, that includes only those things you like from the above two lists.

Now repeat that entire process with your mom, and combine the two lists of the things you like and choose for yourself.

Next, picture both of your parents in front of you. Thank them both for all of the good things they've done for you, leaving nothing out. Then tell them both about the things you didn't like. Get it all out, and write it down--but picture their faces while you're writing. Now tell them, "I'm not your little boy any more. It is time for me to take charge of my life and make my own decisions."

I do not suggest you say these things directly to your parents. This is just for you. I realize you still live at home, but you can begin the process of becoming independent emotionally and psychologically even now. And it would be good if you could get out on your own as soon as possible.

In other words, Russell, you need to get yourself healthy and fit to be a good husband and father. Your self image is key to this, and it will greatly improve if you follow all of these recommendations. You might also want to get a copy of these self esteem CDs, which will help you tremendously in starting to value yourself.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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