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VIDEO: "What is parental alienation?" Parental alienation is when a parent allows a child to participate or hear them degrade the other parent. This is not uncommon in divorces and the children often adjust. In severe cases, however, it can be devastating to the child. This video provides a helpful overview.
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Author Topic: Do I have anger issues?  (Read 657 times)
John__Doe
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« on: June 01, 2016, 01:09:25 PM »

I had a really bad relationship with a girl who suffered from BPD and bipolar disorder (not diagnosed until after our breakup). She pushed the relationship to move faster than I think is healthy in the first few months. She asked me to make some fairly big sacrifices (friendship's, job opportunities, put off grad school for a year etc.). Every time a subject like this came up I would sit down with her and explain that while I truly cared about her, I needed a certain level of commitment in our relationship before making big decisions, and I needed to know she would make similar sacrifices if our relationship needed it. She agreed, I made the sacrifices, we became more serious.

Flash forward a few months and she started lashing out frequently. She would get angry if I spent any free time away from her, she got paranoid about any one of the opposite gender, she had mood swings, and she was leaning on me financially because of her binge spending. She started fights daily, over things as trivial as how I folded my napkin. I can't pretend I never argued back, but I can honestly say I always tried to stay calm and deescalate the argument first. It was negatively affecting my work, my education, and my relationships with family and friends. She always promised that she would get better, and that this was all for the sake of building a stronger relationship, so I stayed. For my part I worked on improving my patience, empathy, tone, word choice etc.

Move forward another few months and things have only gotten worse on her part. She started abusing alcohol, and she would frequently physically blockade me if she ever got scared I would leave. I had to threaten to call the police so I could get to work because I didn't want to hurt her by forcing her aside. After a series of huge arguments over incredibly petty things (again I tried to calmly diffuse them for 30 minutes to up to 3 hours before I would break down fighting too) we were on the edge of breaking up. I talked to her and explained the way she was behaving was not okay and needs to change, but I admit that even if I didn't start/tried to deescalate the arguments, I could still handle things better. Our future was uncertain, but we both explicitly agree that we were still together. Then, a few days later, she cheated on me.

After all the sacrifices I made, and mistreatment I took, and  the chances I had given her, I lost it. I yelled at her, I said terrible things about her, I broke a cup on the floor and a destroyed a bunch of sentimental gifts I had gotten her (mostly  paperback novels). To be clear, I never physically hurt her nor threatened her (I pushed a door open to get my things and leave, and I pushed her arms off me when she kept trying to grab me), but it scared her.

The whole cycle repeated itself (with some big) differences about 8 months later. To be fair, we were not in a long term relationship then, but she had made short term promises to try and rebuild our trust with the idea of getting us to that point. I can't call it cheating, but it was dishonest and unfaithful. This time I didn't break anything, but I still yelled and name called, and the idea of physical harm was even in my head, though again I did not follow that urge or threaten it.

After the dust settled we mutually decided to part although I made the unilateral decision to close off any chance at a future relationship.

My outbursts were wrong and hurtful. I will never defend them. My question is what to do about it, and how to make sure it never happens again. Do I need some kind of anger management or were these just out of character reactions under duress? Do I need to work on managing this type of stress, or avoiding it altogether (i.e. breaking things off before I get to that point)? I do think I was (fairly) patient and responsible before the outbursts, and while that doesn't make them any less wrong, maybe it tells me how to move forward?

(Please note, there are obviously some caveats and nuances I don't have time to get into, but if they come up I will explain them)
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Sunfl0wer
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« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2016, 01:53:11 PM »

I am not saying it is ok, right or justified... .

Often being in an abusive relationship means that the couple both participate in some way for the cycle of violence to keep cycling. 

Even when I did not get physical towards my ex, I do own up to participating in a dysfunctional dynamic that I feel I need to examine to ensure to never do that again.  For me, it is not enough to just be done with the relationship and declare my issues do not exist.  If I was willing to and participated in that dynamic, did not walk away... .I want to know why?  How not to?

I think for you to directly begin by asking this question is pretty telling and inviting for others to clearly tell you: yes

I also think it is valid to conclude, yes, you likely have an anger issue, and I think you suspect it and are close to willing to fully accept it with a bit of encouragement.  I am not sure how you came to this place on your own, that seems pretty significant that you are at this place questioning yourself this way.

So what have you been up to and doing for processing all the features of this relationship thus far?

How is that going?

(Tbh, I am a year out, and now with a better therapist and still waiting to process some things I feel need to be covered to ensure I am ready for my next relationship.  I do NOT want to repeat patterns!)
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How wrong it is for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than to create it herself.~Anais Nin
Sunfl0wer
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« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2016, 01:54:16 PM »

Oh gosh John,

Seeing not only that you are a new member, this is your fist post!

Courageous!

*)Welcome to the family! Being cool (click to insert in post)
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How wrong it is for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than to create it herself.~Anais Nin
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« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2016, 02:37:36 PM »

hi John_Doe, id like to join Sunfl0wer and say Welcome

i think youre in good company. these are volatile relationships. extremes of all kinds, on both ends, are hallmarks of these relationships.

i know that they were in my relationship. she displayed disproportionate anger, and so did i. ill leave out the context because in these cases it really didnt matter - i once took a hammer to some cds i bought her. i stood in front of her car blocking her exit, threatening to "beat the _____ out of her car". i remember one bad fight where i was shouting at the top of my lungs "I HATE BEING YOUR BOYFRIEND" and calling her psychotic.

friends, acquaintances, family, would describe me as an even keeled person. ive been called "mellow" and "chill". toward only two people in my life have i behaved that way.

these were important actions for me to own. they are not the actions of a "mellow" person. there are no excuses for my actions. i take some comfort in knowing that this is not normal behavior from myself. i am very uncomfortable with what it revealed me to be capable of.

i commend you for asking these questions of yourself, for holding yourself accountable, and for seeking the input of others.

they also belong in context. as i said, these are volatile relationships where both sides tend to be pushed to their extremes, and you are not alone in expressing anger to an extent that makes you question yourself. you sacrificed a great deal, and you were betrayed. your body, your psyche, were likely in a state of constant stress, anxiety, and adrenaline. that is already an unhealthy extreme. people in that state will behave in unhealthy ways that they might not otherwise. none of that is an excuse, but the context does help understand.

do you have an anger problem? based on what you have told us, thats impossible for me to say. i can tell you it is worth exploring as you are. i would ask what expressing anger has looked like in your life. do you know the difference between righteous anger, healthy expressions of anger, versus unhealthy expressions of anger? there are times in my life that i havent felt anger when i felt i "should". is the same true for you? there are times in my life where i havent expressed my anger at all, but felt it intensely (more than i felt was called for) and let it bottle up. is any of this familiar to you? sometimes anger is a manifestation of something else. it sounds like you feel shame for this anger -  this is a useful area to probe.

i can also tell you its a good sign that your anger knows limits, like physical harm. im not sure "yelling" is in and of itself indicative of an anger problem (depends on a lot of context).

John_Doe, as you own and work through these feelings, do you think you are also able to forgive yourself?

i hope you will continue posting. you are in good company and there are many here that can relate to your story.
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HurtinNW
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« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2016, 03:03:38 PM »

This is a great topic!

Interestingly, John Doe, as I read your post I could imagine my ex saying much the same. He often talked about how I "pushed" him to anger. In his mind, he was being sweetly reasonable and I was being overly needy, demanding, selfish, and crazy. He believed he would only lose it after being forced.

Now, from my perspective he wasn't justified at all. I believe he was often reacting to months or years of resentments (no one collects resentments and memorizes evidence to justify themselves more than a person with BPD/NPD). So one little thing would result in an explosion because it tapped into simmering anger and resentment that was always there. It is very hard to go back and understand what really happened in these relationships, because they are 50 shades of crazy-making.

I don't say this to blame you at all, but to illustrate we all can perceive our behavior as justified. I think it is a common, but mistaken, human emotion to want to feel our behavior is justified.

Your feelings of anger are normal. There are no bad feelings. But there is bad behavior. It sounds like you did engage in bad, hurtful behavior. That's a really good thing to admit and address. I think most of us here got pushed to the edge and behaved in ways that are embarrassing and negative. I became an anxious, stressed out, depressed and PTSD-activated mess. I often behaved in ways that I look back at and think, that is not the person I want to be. I cannot blame my ex for that. No one "makes" us behave badly.

Do you have an anger problem? I think a more valid question, did you behave in negative ways? Then the answer is to dig deep and understand why, so you don't repeat it. It's good to admit we make mistakes. It is that self-reflection that differentiates us from those with PD. This can be a wonderful opportunity to grow and learn, and yes, forgive yourself.





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Leonis
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« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2016, 04:15:14 PM »

John Doe,

You do not have anger issues. What you have is normal human emotions. Now, normal doesn't mean it's okay or justified, but it's something I guarantee any average joe within 2-3 standard deviations would react if put under similar situations.

My ex claimed that she doesn't want to be "yelled" at and thought I had anger issues. But the whole time, she could only name maybe 5 instances, over the period of 18 months, when I got irritated with things. On the other side of the coin, she was free to express her frustration and anger uninhibited.

I wouldn't say I didn't behave negatively during the breakup process, but there were valid reasons for leading up to that point. In your case, while you want to bridle your negativity, please also realize that you were put under extremely unfavorable conditions where you had to give 200% in order to act civilly and be judged if you didn't.
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bunny4523
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« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2016, 04:37:03 PM »

Hi John,

Welcome and I'm sure you will find support here!  It's an amazing site with amazing people working through similar issues.  As far as the anger... .my thoughts are anger is a choice.  Feelings just are but how you choose to respond to them is a choice.  So my suggestion would be to explore this a little.  Now I also know that from my own personal experience with a BPD partner, I felt uncontrollable feelings. I reacted in ways that are not like me because the craziness was just too much to process.  I raised my voice and screamed at him towards the end.  BUT you and I both decided we didn't want this and decided to get out so that part is good.  I look at it like my ex brought out the worst in me... .it was a defense mechanism that I believe was situational not my usual character.  If you generally do not express anger the way you did then I could see that you too fall in that category. 

I am in a healthy relationship now.  I get anger and still feel the emotions... .but no screaming or yelling and it's been almost ten months now.  We talk.  I say "right now I'm mad and I need to calm down before we continue this conversation" and my BF respects that.  Sometimes he just holds my hand, kisses it and says ok.  Then he let's me bring it up when I'm ready.  So my point is, I believe some people poke at these deep sores we have from our past.  It is still our responsibility to either choose to respond in a productive way or to get out of a situation that isn't healthy - even if that means ending the relationship. 

I'm very calm, collected and compassionate when someone else is angry because I can see the hurt.  I understand it and know to listen first, acknowledge and then share.  That is why being in the BPD relationship just really threw me for a loop.  I struggled trying to understand where he was coming from and was so hurt by the picture he painted of me. 

So to sum it up, I think you chose to get angry and go a little crazy yourself to deal with the crazy situation, like as a release.  Therefore, you can choose not to do that in future relationships... .

Wishing you the best!

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