Now Available! Dr. DeFoore's New Book GOODFINDING
by Nora N.
(Bellevue, WA, USA)
Dear Dr. DeFoore
I have been in relationships in which my buttons weren't pushed to the point of hitting. I am still in shock and feel terrible about what I did. In shock because although I have been hit before a couple of times by two exes, I have never hit anyone. I am 40 going on 41 and felt proud of the fact that I have never gone there. I've actually inflicted pain on myself whenever I was angry/hurt with my current ex boyfriend. It had been years since I have done that. The first infliction was with an ex I had who was cold towards me and uncaring when I told him that I had been sexually assaulted by a photographer earlier that day. He did nothing and just sat there being cold and said "So, what do you want me to do about it?" I felt hurt about his lack of caring. I went to the bathroom after that and used a razor to cut myself. I was shocked after it happened. I wasn't drunk or anything when I did that.
Back to the present. My current ex-boyfriend and I are wonderful with each other (cordial, respectful, considerate), the majority of the time during the month and we love each other very much. We get along very well during our whole weekends together and we average one fight a month. Still, there's a problem with us getting upset when we feel we can't get our points across. When he has been passive-aggressive, when he comes up with something bad that I did a year ago making me think he's forgiving me, when he says underhanded remarks, makes sarcastic jabs, has overwhelmed me with serious things that happened in his past, when I feel I've disappointed him somehow, when I make snide remarks, when I am upset if he brings his ex up, when I make exasperated faces, when I bottle up my hurt. When we're in this mode, we feel very hurt, rejected, abandoned, angry, misunderstood and exasperated. I lash out telling him I hate him calling him bad names and he gives me the cold shoulder bringing up the past. FYI, I call him bad names and tell him I hate him only when I'm drunk.
Yes, I'm an alcoholic which doesn't make matters any better. When he rejects me and breaks up with me, I start drinking heavily. During this period, I call him and tell him hurtful things. When feeling anger while sober, I express my anger in a more positive way. I had never laid a hand on him until before this last break-up. Here's what occured before that happened. We had just watched part of a movie at night. We thought about taking a break from it. I had had 4 glasses of wine, but felt no anger and actually was happy and content. His cat had gotten sick a few times on his new carpet and I saw that he was somewhat exasperated with that (being that that was his new carpet and he was in the process of finishing remodeling his home). He wondered if his cat was sick and how he was afraid he would lose him. He then said "I remember when 'we' first adopted him."
Mind you, he was speaking of his highly physically abusive ex-wife whom I believe he has still not fully forgiven. He has talked about her and how she never cared about his feelings, never apologized, etc, etc. I then said "Gosh, again with Misty?" Can we not include her in this conversation? He then got angry at me. When he got angry at me my heartbeat accelerated. He wanted to talk and I said no please not right now. I didn't think it was the right time because in the past, when I got upset I didn't take a break to cool down and things would turn bad. This time I just didn't think it was the right time. I learned that it was best to calm down and talk when a person has calmed down. He said "I need a break" He walked out. I calmed my nerves down, by stroking the sick cat. My heartbeat went down and I figured we could talk now in a calm manner.
Nevertheless, when he came back I could tell he hadn't calmed down by his expression. It was a cold dictorial type of expression. He said in a cold angry tone "We need to talk." I started getting upset again feeling that he was barking orders instead of asking. I felt as if I was being ordered around and that he didn't respect my wishes of me not wanting to talk because again I felt anger starting up again inside of me. He accused me of being jealous of his ex-wife, but I felt no jealousy. I had just felt exasperated about him coming up with her again.
After it was obvious he wasn't going to take no for an answer in regards to talking about my remark, I told him I wanted to go home. He didn't think that was a good idea. I repeated again "Please take me home." In my mind I thought it best for us to take a break. Especially for me, because I was getting agitated again. So he took me home after I insisted the third time, and during the drive back to my place he berated me, telling me I'm "never there for him" when he needs consolation. I got even more angry when he came up with the death of his grandmother (whom I adored and still adore dearly) and how I wasn't there for him because I was in Seattle getting drunk during a mental breakdown.
Mind you he had apologized to me about that and told me he understood because I had felt abandoned when he dropped me off at the bus stop, but missed it. It was the last bus. There were to be no other buses. I felt very stuck and afraid. I refused to call him for help because I figured it was really over for us and I figured he wouldn't care anyway. I figured he would get in his cold angry mode again and wouldn't listen.
At the time his grandmother was in the hospital. At that time after not calling him, his grandmother died. When I found out I was devastated. I cried about it and told him I'm sorry his grandmother died, but he still thought I wasn't there for him and that I didn't care. Anger built up inside of me again. I already felt hurt, devastated, very tired from lack of sleep roaming around in Seattle, out of sorts, now I was feeling anger. I stopped conversation with him because I couldn't take it anymore. That made him even more upset and it only gave him proof that I wasn't there for him.
Well, he apologized for his part and he forgave me for my part in how I called him names (selfish, thoughtless, inconsiderate, clueless and mean). He never came up with the anger again until this last time in the car. When he shouted to me how I wasn't there for him especially during his grandmother's death (which was 9 months ago), I grew livid and impulsively without any thought, I hit him once on his right hand yelling "Stop it!"
After I hit him, I turned forward holding my head down with my arms and I continued shouting "Stooooooop" over and over. I then, slapped myself and my head several times. When he said he was going to take me to jail for hitting him, I froze and pleaded for him not to. I was quiet the rest of the time there and said with a tone of disbelief "I have never done that before" then he said "Yeah right, I'm sure you've hit some ex of yours. You're probably just lying about it" I felt myself getting upset again, but calmed down and ignored him for fear of things escalating again.
Dr. DeFoore, we are still on speaking terms. It's lighter now and we still love each other (although I tell him I love him and he doesn't reciprocate with words in kind because he says he's still hurt over me hitting him, I do know he loves me). But I know 100% that we cannot be in relationship with each other without couple's counseling. I also am going to take anger management classes to deal with my anger and counseling for abandonement, rejection and physical abuse I experienced with a perfectionistic mother. I also believe he needs counseling for anger issues, letting go of how his ex-wife harshly abused him, and rejection he felt from his parents. He does agree he needs counseling. I'm sorry this is long. I myself didn't realize how much I had inside of me to share. I truly want help. I want happiness and I want to be healthy. The fact that it has come down to actually hitting him when I'm angry has me truly wanting to heal. Thank you so much for your time, Dr. DeFoore.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Thank you for writing your story on this site, Nora. You certainly seem to want help, and that's a good thing. I agree with you that your boyfriend and you cannot be in relationship without couple's counseling. It is great that you want to be happy and healthy.
There is something I want to say to you, Nora, and it is very important. This is based on my 35 years of counseling experience. You will not be able to benefit from any kind of counseling or see any lasting improvement in your relationship unless you quit drinking. You make it very clear that you are an alcoholic, and I respect your openness. But that awareness and acknowledgment of your alcoholism is just the first step to change.
I highly recommend that you join an Alcoholics Anonymous group, follow the program, get a sponsor and complete the 12 Step program. This may not be what you want to hear, but the sooner you realize this the sooner you will begin to heal.
You sound like a very intelligent and good person, Nora. Alcoholism is a progressive disease, and it will destroy your beautiful life if you let it.
I totally support you in getting counseling for yourself. I suggest you do that and also begin your recovery program for treatment of your alcoholism as a higher priority than trying to heal your relationship with your boyfriend. You simply have to get yourself healthy first, before you will be ready for a healthy relationship. I'm not saying that you shouldn't see him, I'm just saying that you and your health and recovery have to come first.
Feel free to write again if you like.
I wish you all the best in your healing and recovery,
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