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Old 09-21-2012, 03:39 PM   #1
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Lashing out without warning

Hi! I've never actually done this before, so bear with me. I'm 21 years old and female. I've got a fairly wide group of friends, and I'm not sure if I would describe myself as an introvert or an extrovert - in fact, I really don't know HOW to describe myself. Even dating sites don't know how to sort me (true story). Sometimes I can spend all day as the center of the party, and then others I really just want to be left to my own devices.

I've never been depressed. I've had moments of being sad, but they don't last. My problem is that my temper has been building up for the last ten years or so, since my parents had their (very messy) divorce. Ever since I was very young, I've been called a little actress, because I can put up a pretty darn flawless front over my real feelings. I originally did it so no one would know about my home life when my parents were together and unhappy, but after the divorce, I put my mask on because I didn't want my mother, who had custody of me, to know just how bothered I was. I worried that she had too much on her plate to deal with me, and honesty... for a few years she spent more time gone out all night at bars and clubs than she did home. By twelve, I had learned how to cook a full meal by myself, so she wouldn't have to worry about that, either.

I suppose initially my anger was directed at my Mom, because I was very much a Daddy's Girl, and knowing he had gone thousands of miles away to be with another family with kids the same age as me... I was hurt, and my mother was the only one close enough to lash out at. I always knew, and I always know, even when I'm screaming and shouting, that my logic is convoluted, but I couldn't stop. My teen years were so bad that my mom sent me to live with my dad for the last six months of eighth grade. I don't think I've ever felt so unwanted. My mother went through a lot of financial trouble, and I learned how to deal with having less than everyone else - which was hard, as I was, quite honestly, spoiled in my childhood.

Reconnecting with my father when I was around sixteen(the six months spent with him, he was usually away at work or avoided me, and I was honestly starstruck just to be near him), my anger shifted pretty rapidly to him. I started realizing that he was the one I had always BEEN angry at, but I was scared to express that to him. If nothing else, my parents raised me to be extremely respectful to my elders (even older CHILDREN), and I've always been skittish of men for reasons I'm not sure about. In any case, I only ever exploded on my father once. It was still my mother that got the brunt of it.

Now that I'm an adult, however, I find myself much more aware of just how angry I really am. When we were kids, my older brother was the only one who could calm me down (he was also a pro at winding me up, but I digress), but now that we're older, I sometimes realize that I'm snapping at him for absolutely no reason. Something as simple as a minor disagreement can have me storming away and slamming doors. Luckily, I've never been physically violent with I'm angry, but I frighten myself sometimes, because I can almost feel my arms going up to take a swing at someone.

I just feel like I've spent so long trying to make sure that everyone thinks I'm okay, that now I don't know how to actually tell anyone that I'm really, truly not. I've always been EXTREMELY stubborn, and private, and prone to anxiety attacks when I'm pushed too far, and trying to express myself does just that. I find myself hyperventilating, and shouting, and then I need hours alone just to calm down.

I know my mom and my brother want to help me desperately, but it's at the point now where I sometimes get furious just LOOKING at them, and it sounds like anything they suggest is an attack on me. Logically, I KNOW they're trying to help, but when I'm that angry, I'm not listening to that little voice in my head.

Now, it's almost not as bad as it used to be, if only because I don't shout as much as I used to. In the last couple of years, I've tended to get very quiet when I'm angry. I mutter, or hiss, or basically snarl everything that I say using, to quote my mother, 'The Tone'. The new problem is that I can whip around and lash out without giving them any indication that they're pressing on a raw nerve.

I love my family more than I can put into words. My friends all know me as the life of the party, and when they talk about me, I'm always the sweetheart of the group. Why am I so calm and happy around them, but the people I truly love I treat like dirt? Is this even normal? And how can I get through explaining all of this to them without having a mental breakdown?

 
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Old 09-21-2012, 05:22 PM   #2
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Re: Lashing out without warning

Have you ever expressed your feelings about the separation of your parents to them? I mean specifically said "I am angry because you have broken my world apart and that really scares me!". You have legitimate anger, and by holding it down for so long, it has seeped and overflowed into your whole being. This is why it takes only a minor trigger to set it off. Your description of "looking after your mother" is classic. The angry kid you were must have really resented having to do that at a time when you were really really in need of being looked after yourself when your father walked away from you. That is one of the cruelest things that can be done to a child. Your pain jumps right out of your letter. Can you get a therapist? I feel that you need to place that anger and fear right where they belong and a therapist can help you to do this. In the meantime, write your story as a diary, as if you are living it now. That is a proven way to sort stuff out and process your emotions. Best wishes, Sera

 
Old 09-29-2012, 09:44 AM   #3
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Re: Lashing out without warning

Dear Bombadillo,

I wanted to share some advice because it seems like I've been in your shoes, but I am not all that healthy myself so this is more a sharing of experience than healthy advice! (I seem to love giving this warning every time I post, but I have to )

I can also be sweet in situations with people I am not that close to but not with those who have seen my dark side. That may be the key. Your family knows how you have been at your darkest time. When you try to be sweet, you think that they know you are "a little actress," and I will bet a million bucks that even if you are being genuine, this is always in the back of your mind. My panick attacks (and I bet EVERYONE'S panick attacks have to do with others finding us to be "little actresses", acting like we are nice, acting like we are hot, acting like we are smart, acting like we are sweet). You love your family because I bet the best times in your life, the most loved you've ever felt (along side the worst you've ever felt) has been with this collection of people whose blood is running through your veins and whose beautiful faces resemble your own.

You love them.

They are your blood.

There is beauty in that. You will never have anyone else who can replicate this exact relationship or for whom you will feel that much longing for, and want to fit in with, and to want to be admired by.

But you have issues. They know about them. You will never get a complete "do-over" with your family as you would making new friendships with people who don't know about your issues.

If you can, find a way to make it work with your family. This is the hard part. The hardest part and your own smart and capable brain, the person who saved your mom from so much worry when you were little, will come up with a way to make it work.

Do it from a place of love. Look at their beautiful faces, so much like your own and so much different depending on their own life stories. See what you can do.

Any odd behavior, like snarling under your breath, or slamming doors, try to avoid. (Trust me, no matter how much you are in the right to express this anger, if you were to see someone else do this, just out of instinct, you would be put-off yourself)

Keep us posted. All the best.

Last edited by MissJealousy; 09-29-2012 at 09:50 AM.

 
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