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Anger Cost Me My Family

by Stephen
(South Africa)

I grew up in a home with a depressed father trying to find himself in a bottle and coming home intoxicated--that was the weekend norm since my birth. He was physically/verbally abusive towards my mother, brother and myself continuously for the good part of 18 years.

To me this became the norm as he was very strict when it came to others, but not to himself.

I ended up becoming the same type of person except for the alcohol. I am the perfectionist when comes to other people, may it be there work, bedrooms or working places. It is a bad characteristics that I picked up together with the explosive temper/anger and verbal and sometimes, sometimes physical abuse. Although I would not say it is as bad as what you see on TV. I would rate it in the region of 2-3 out of ten, but still way too much aggressiveness, jealousy, intimidation, and abuse (physical/verbal).

To be honest with you I can get home in a good mood, singing along with the radio, thinking about the family--and when I walk in the door I turn into a raging maniac, nobody can tell me different to what I have in my mind, nothing is right and excuses are not allowed, actually they are taboo.

All of this has ended up with my wife making excuses for my children where she should have stood by my side. But all three of them were too afraid, even dreading me coming home.

Furthermore I picked up trouble at work due to my temper, together with a false DUI. I went into a deep depression where I didn't want anything to do with the family, due to guilt and because they were treating me like an outsider due to my anger and aggressive ways.

And then they moved out while I was at work on 20 November, 2009.

I am now on Cilift tabs, have been to a hypnotherapist and have gradually learned to calm myself down when the urge arrives. The wife is scared to take me back as she says what guarantee does she have--and all I can say is, "I've been to the doctor, got the pills etc." This does not comfort her.

Okay--where do I start to teach myself to calm down? How do I calm myself down when I feel the urge to explode? Is there a way to release this urge without harming anybody, especially my family?

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Stephen, and thanks for telling your story here. I am glad that you are aware of your problems and willing to get help. I respect how you took responsibility for the harm you caused in your family, and how you did not blame others for your actions. That is an important first step, and you have taken it.

I also like how you have seen the origin of your destructive patterns in your father's behavior in the past. That will also help you.

I will guide you through some steps that will help you to release some of the influences of your past, and manage your anger more effectively in the present and future.

1) First, write down all of the ways in which you are like your father. Look at that list and ask yourself which of those qualities or behaviors you want to keep and which you want to get rid of. In other words, choose what you like and don't like from the list.

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 mother, and combine the two lists of positive qualities you 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, if they're alive. This is just for you.

4) Write out a full, detailed description of the man you choose to become, and look at that list every day, adding to it when you think of something else.

To deal with your anger:

I also want you to do a journaling process, to help you deal with your anger. Here is a web page that describes all of the benefits and techniques of journaling.

Then use these imagery processes for emotional healing to resolve and heal those memories.

Finally, make a full and complete list of all of the abuse that you have perpetrated on your family. Take as much time as you need for this, as it will not be easy or quick. If it is easy for you, then you're not really doing it.

This will help you greatly, Stephen. It will help you calm down, and it will help you protect your family from your anger and rage.

These are tools, and the more you use them, the better they will work for you. Like any tools, if you don't use them, they are of no value whatsoever.

There are no guarantees that this will work for you, Stephen. The best assurance you have is your own will and intention to be a good man. Focus on the goodness that is in your heart, and make all of your decisions from that goodness.

Most important of all, believe in yourself. And never, ever give up on becoming the good person you choose to be.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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