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I'm known as a quiet, kind person to those I'm not overly close to. All my life I have always backed down and let people put crap on me. When I was 16 (I'm now 26), I got with my partner, who has always tried to "wear the pants" in the relationship. For the first 6 years I put up with this and did whatever he told me to.
Then my parents, who I was very close to, were killed in a car accident. A few months after the accident I started getting these feelings of pure hate towards him. It was in my head that life's too short to be treated this way--yet at the same time there was this fear of leaving him and raising our 2 small children without any family support. I was only 22 years old.
He has this psychological way of stirring me up to the point of where I snap. He will mumble something under his breath about my mothering, knowing it will get to me, I try to control myself and if I happen to succeed in controlling myself, he will say it again. Then I will yell and abuse him, and he will say look what you're doing in front of the kids. It drives me insane because I know I shouldn't be yelling at him like that in front of the kids, but I just cant seem to let it go. Sometimes I feel like throwing something at him or punching him. It's hard to control then he turns it all back on me and is all like, "I didn't do anything! You just started yelling at me in front of the kids."
I admit that my anger takes over, but it does take a fair bit to make me lose it, and he knows exactly what to do or say to make me mad. And he does it so slyly so he can turn around and say you started it. Sometimes he will totally ignore me when I ask a simple question because he knows the silent treatment gets to me just as much. I will remain calm for a while then after a few hours of him ignoring me I will get picky and say, "Why won't you talk to me? What have I done now?" He still ignores me. Then, instead of walking away, I get to the point of where I get myself so wound up that I will start saying not nice things to him. I believe that as a child I held everything in, and my traumatic experience of losing my parents just let out the build up of frustration and anger.
I'm not sure what to do.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello Loui. Thanks for telling your story on this site. I think you are exactly right about what is going on with you. Holding everything in was working okay for you, until after your very traumatic loss of both of your parents. I am so sorry that happened to you, that it was so sudden, and that they both died at the same time. That is such a very painful loss.
What you say makes sense, in that the pain from your loss added to the emotion you already had stored up, and it was just too much--especially with your partner treating you the way he does. He provides the trigger, and you have the "powder keg" of stored up emotion.
The most important thing for you to do is to begin a conscious, intentional grieving process over the loss of your mom and dad. I recommend you start by reading this web page on grieving in detail. It includes exercises you can do to help you grieve the loss of your parents.
Be gentle with yourself here, Loui. Your loss was deep and especially shocking because of the fact that it was sudden, and it included the loss of both parents at the same time. These grieving techniques will work, but you have to decide the right timing of them, and which ones to use when.
Anger often results from unexpressed or unresolved grief and sorrow. That doesn't mean you don't have good reasons to be mad at your partner. It sounds like he is being verbally and emotionally abusive to you, but you won't be able to see the relationship clearly until you get some emotional healing and healthy grieving done. He pushes your buttons, but you're responsible for your buttons and your reactions--that's why I'm encouraging you to do your own emotional healing, because your pain and sorrow are behind your buttons. You may have other trauma stored inside as well.
If your relationship with your partner is too traumatic for you to focus on your grieving, you may need to think about putting some distance between you to allow you to feel safe enough to grieve and heal. You're not going to be happy in any relationship where you are not treated with respect.
Take advantage of the many resources on this site, such as this page which tells you about the power of journaling for helping you to heal your anger.
Feel free to write again on this site if you like, or if you have any questions. You can either submit another story, or write in the comments section on this page.
My best to you,
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