Anger Issues Ruining My Life
I have always had an explosive temper, according to the assessment on this website I would say I have serious anger issues. Sometimes I can manage my anger, by leaving the room to read a book or listen to music, or going for a walk. Other times I get so mad that I can't stop yelling, I slam doors and occasionally throw things.
Lately the problems have been between my fiance and I. Last fall his ex wife committed suicide, and I feel I am always being compared to her. No matter what we do or where we go, it's "She did this" or "I went here with her" or "She would do it like this". I dealt with it at first but I am coming to resent the way it makes me feel.
When my fiance and I get into an argument in the beginning I try very hard to control my anger, I try to think before I speak, if that doesn't work I try to get myself away from the situation to calm down and think/speak rationally. Sometimes he respects my need for space and sometimes he doesn't, and he will keep pushing me (I don't think he does it on purpose but I can't think of a better term) until I lose it and start screaming and saying hurtful things, slamming doors, etc.
Once I reach a certain point I just can't stop. We were drinking pretty heavily for a while but we have cut that out in efforts to solve our problems. It has helped a bit but I still find I reach an 8-10 on the anger scale quite quickly. Lately I have been having suicidal thoughts, I cry very, VERY easily, and my energy levels and interest in things I used to enjoy have gone down.
We are for the most part a very loving couple, our fights used to blow over by next morning, but lately they have been lasting longer, with us even breaking up and me staying at a hotel. We are very much in love with each other and want to work things out and find ways to manage his grief, and my anger.
He can be very hurtful too when he is angry but he doesn't reach the levels I do. I have had these issues a long time and have been through counseling to no avail. I had a rough relationship with my parents, they were physically and verbally abusive, I was into drugs as a teenager and spent a lot of time kicked out of their house.
I was raped at age 12 and went through a lot of grief for that, I attended therapy for that too. It seems like my anger is at an all time high and I just want it to stop, I need to learn how to control it because it is threatening to ruin my life and relationships.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello Jennifer, and thanks for telling your story here. You sound like a very bright woman, who really wants to improve her life. I will try to help.
It sounds to me like you are ready for a deeper level of healing from your past trauma. I think that's why your anger is worse right now. Anger is the outer edge of wounding, and as you expressed, you have a lot of wounds.
Here is what I recommend:
1) Come up with a mental picture of your anger. Keep searching for an image until you have a clear picture in your mind. Amplify it, making it larger than life, even if it is cartoon-like. It needs to fully embody your anger, so that it is completely consumed with your anger and illustrates exactly how you feel when you're filled with rage. Keep going until you know for sure that it is accurate and really "captures" your emotion. It needs to not look like you--you are much more than this emotion. This image has to be purely your anger and rage, nothing else.
2) While picturing it in your mind, say this to it: "I can see that you are a part of me. I created you a long time ago, for my protection. If I let you run my life, you will destroy it. I'm not going to try to kill you or make you go away. You have a place here, but you're not going to be in charge any more. I'm taking over, which will keep both of us safe. I know you're strong, but your strength belongs to me, and I choose to use it for good things."
3) Notice how the image responds or changes in your mind while you say these things. Keep working with it in this way until you begin to see a healthy anger image start to emerge. Ultimately, you want to transform it into a loyal ally--that's what happens when your anger is healthy.
4) Every time you start to get angry, picture the unhealthy image of your anger--the first one you saw, and keep at it until you can see it clearly. This is called "See It Don't Be It," and it will help you to manage your anger. Over time, your anger will heal and become more like the healthier image.
5) Next, do the journaling exercises on this page, to deal with your trauma and give your anger someplace to go on a regular daily basis.
6) You probably have some unresolved and/or unaddressed emotional trauma from your past, based on what you've told me about your anger episodes and violence. I strongly encourage you to do the "Trauma Writing" in the journaling link above, to revisit your past pain and trauma that is underlying and most likely causing your current problems.
7) Then, use these imagery processes for emotional healing, which will give you a chance to "go back" to your past experiences in your mind and bring healing and resolution.
These are tools, Jennifer. Like any tools, they are useless if you don't use them. And, like any tools, the more you use them the better you will get at it, and the more you will benefit.
Believe in yourself--the part of you that wants to have a good, happy life. Believe in your good heart, your courage to face your anger and pain head-on and transform it into something useful.
You can do this. You are a strong woman. Use that strength to face the goodness in your heart and soul.
My very best to you,
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