Anger Management tips for satisfying relationships by Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

teeth gritting in fury(2) - Anger at yourself makes you sick - masochistic anger part 2

Anger and hate consumed Sebastian

Anger that his marriage hadn’t worked out the way he hoped washed over Sebastian from the minute he woke up. He was angry with his selfish wife. He was angry that she didn’t seem to want to help their son with his homework or encourage him in sports. Sebastian was angry that he had to take care of everything at home while Loretta showed little concern for the family.

Anger became stronger when Sebastian compared work to home life

Teaching music to kids at school was his only escape. The lack of joint rhythms in his marriage was countered by the magical blending of sounds the children made into enjoyable harmonies. However, the fact that Sebastian could get the kids to act together for a common goal made him all the more angry that his efforts to do the same with his marriage failed.

banging against a wall - Anger at yourself makes you sick - masochistic anger part 2

Anger at not picking the right wife made Sebastian beat up on himself

Most of all Sebastian was angry with himself for picking Loretta as a wife. He berated himself for being blind to her faults when they were courting. Sebastian felt adored and wanted by Loretta before they married. He imagined she would focus on him and the family they made with an energy that would prove her devotion and his worth. Sebastian saw the chance to have a reliable and sacrificial caring partner who would put family first. What he got shattered his dreams. The birth of their son turned her into a tired, complaining wife who did less and less for the family. Sebastian got more and more irritated, resentful and angry that his burden was increasing while Loretta became more insular.

Anger at being forced into breaking up the family was horrifying

Divorce had crossed his mind several times. Each time Sebastian felt upset and angry with Loretta, his determination to get divorced got stronger. The moment he came to begin the process he would freeze with fear and anxiety. He cycled through this “on and off” conflict millions of times over the last two years. He just couldn’t go through with it. The thought of breaking up his family horrified him. He was angry that he had been put in a position of acting like his father who had left his family.

If only Loretta would leave! It would take the pressure off Sebastian. It would absolve him of being the family murderer. Sebastian’s anger with Loretta’s insensitivity took a toll on his health. He got sciatica and severe headaches which took him out of action. He managed to continue working and got relief and pleasure from that. At home the anger and pain got stronger. He had to stay in bed for long periods, leaving his wife and son to manage by themselves.

Masochistic anger that made Sebastian sick got him out of the trap

Sebastian was caught in an unenviable trap. He wanted out of his marriage but he didn’t want to be the one to break it up. He wanted to undo his bad choice but he didn’t want to feel like a killer. He wanted to find a more satisfying relationship but he didn’t want to live with the guilt of being a home breaker. He just couldn’t find the strength and resolve to cut his losses and improve his life and that of his son. Loretta hadn’t cheated on him or done anything he could use as a legitimate reason for divorce. She just wasn’t the devoted and care taking spouse he desired. She was more like his own mother, depressed and ineffectual. Sebastian’s mother had never got over the desertion of her husband. His mother had become withdrawn and did the minimum to maintain the family system.

Physical pain was easier to bear than feelings of intense anger

Anger helped Sebastian to avoid his fear and guilt. Anger at his father for deserting him, anger at his mother for not moving on, anger at his wife for being like his mother, and now anger at himself for doing the same was too much to bear. The only way he could cope was to turn the anger against himself by making himself sick. It was easier to feel physical pain than the pain of feeling like a beast if went for the divorce and acted like his father. It was more tolerable to suffer with headaches and sciatica than feel the disgust of being weak and giving up on life like his mother.

Perhaps Sebastian’s wife would take action if he got sick with anger

Underneath all the physical pain and emotional turmoil Sebastian attempted to solve his difficult dilemma. If he was sick and unable to take care of the family, Loretta would be forced into action. Perhaps she would get upset enough to leave and save Sebastian from having to be a home breaker. Without being conscious of it, Sebastian was setting her up to do what he wished, letting him off the hook. The only way he could do it without feeling the shame, guilt and fear of divorce was to be massively angry and turn it inwards masochistically. He was willing to risk psychological suicide in the desperate hope that Loretta would sever the ties.

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Dealing with his conflict helped Sebastian forgive himself and move on

Sebastian’s life was unbearable miserable and affecting his work and his son. He found psychotherapy a safe and neutral place for him to process his years of anger that he had held in. Anger at his parents, his wife and himself. As he felt the sadness and desolation of his childhood he began forgiving himself for wanting to end his marriage. Steps towards understanding and forgiving his imperfect family made him accept his own imperfections and that helped him take steps to make a better life for himself, his son and his wife as they agreed to part.

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