My Anger About the Last Six Months
I am 24 and live with my family and have a child who I see often. When my relationship with his mother broke down in 2008 I was hurt and angry for a short while but dealt with it.
I have a temper but know this, and used to manage it without a problem. Until recently (apart from getting into a drunken fight to stop 3 lads beating up a mate) I have always been the one to stop trouble.
Seven months ago I started a new relationship with a 17 year old girl who had a lot of emotional problems which I found difficult to deal with but tried and tried as I thought a lot of her. My family noticed I was not myself and I was stressed after two months into the relationship but I chose not to listen. This stress came to a head at work and I was sacked for violent conduct and haven't been able to get a job since.
My girlfriend would argue with me if I spent time with my child because she was jealous. I blamed my child for causing arguments in our relationship and didn't want contact, which caused arguments between me and my parents as they have a good relationship with my ex and regular access to their grandchild. And my anger got worse.
Six weeks ago me and my girlfriend had a major argument about my child so I said I wouldn't have any contact with my child. Her parents didn't agree with this as they felt my child came first and stopped my girlfriend from seeing me but this made no difference as we continued to see each other.
But over the past six weeks I've been told by close family, friends and people who I don't know well she was seeing other lads but she denied it saying she was still in a relationship with me, and I didn't believe them. She was also telling lots of lies about my ex and other people close to me but again I believed her every time.
But as the reality of what she was like kicked in, I became depressed and took an overdose because I blamed myself for the arguments with my girlfriend, arguments with my parents, not seeing my child and not having a job. Three days ago I found out the truth was she had been seeing somebody else and I felt hurt and angry, and had every intent on hurting the other lad to emotionally hurt her and went into a rage I can't remember which has ended up with me being arrested for threatening behaviour and a harassment order against me for texting her.
My feelings of anger come and go but I flip within seconds and tonight have threatened my dad, the problem is I can't remember what I do when I'm angry. I have been so bad the last two days I've also broken my hand punching a wall.
I need help on how to channel my aggression, how to deal with my emotions, and how to recognize when I start to get angry, because once I'm in a rage I remember nothing. I'm not frightened of what I will do next and this worries me because I know I should be.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello, and thanks for telling your story here. I don't have to tell you that your situation is extreme. You already know that. And the reason you know that is that you are better than this. You're too smart, and your heart is too good to try to punish others in ways that hurt your own child.
It's time you move apart from your parents, and become emotionally independent.
I will recommend some processes than will help with that, and also some others that will help you heal and manage your anger.
Here is what I recommend:
1) Write down all of the ways in which you are like your dad. Look at that list and ask yourself if there are any of those qualities or behaviors you want to keep. In other words, choose what you like from the list, and then you will 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, unless you can do it without anger, and unless you think they will respond well. This is just for you. I realize you still live at home under their authority, but you can begin the process of becoming independent emotionally and psychologically now, and the sooner the better.
To deal with your anger:
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 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.
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 this image of your anger--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.
5) Next, do the journaling exercises on this page, to heal emotionally and give your anger someplace to go on a regular daily basis.
These are tools, and like any tools, they are useless if you don't use them. And, 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 life. Believe in your good heart, your courage to face your anger head-on and transform it into something useful.
You are a man, and only you can take charge of your life and your emotions. This is your time to step into adulthood and decide the kind of man you want to be.
Write out a full, detailed description of the man you choose to become, and look at that every day, adding to it when you think of something else.
Believe in the goodness of your heart, and do these exercises for yourself and your child.
My very best to you,
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