I am a 35-year-old single mother of two children, ages 7 and 9. I find myself screaming my head off at them, at my boyfriend, and at myself for sometimes what appears to be nothing. I have struck them and my boyfriend (at different times of course).
This is killing me inside. I feel like a horrible person. They returned from a year in northern Europe with their father. I couldn't wait for them to come home, and all I do is yell at them. I have been with my boyfriend Chuck for 5 years. We have broken up so many times, and it is mostly because of my anger, and feelings of loss of control. Some days I'm scared I am going to really hurt someone badly, especially my children whom I love so much.
I have a wonderful job, really. I'm in the type of job that many people are envious of. I have a beautiful home, and a sports car. I also run 4 to 5 miles a day. I have put my children in Catholic school, and buy them the best toys and clothes money can buy. But inside I am dying. I want to be married, and not have all this responsibility on my own. I don't want my ex-husband to take my children away. I only let them go with him to enrich their lives. My boyfriend Chuck really has been with me, even when I have treated him horribly. Now my entire family dislikes him, but I know it wasn't his fault.
What can I do? Would I be better off dead? Would my children be better with their father? Would Chuck be better without me, too? I feel like a bird with broken wings.
Thanks for your letter. I'm not going to tell you anything you don't already know. You are angry and hurt. You feel betrayed and disappointed - with just about everyone.
Please use the way your anger and hurt has escalated (to screaming at and hitting your kids) to get into ongoing therapy ASAP. Through therapy, you will uncover what is at the root of this hurt, grieve your losses and ultimately get back on track with your life.
Your kids will be the main motivation and inspiration to do this work, however, the process will lead you to what the little kid in you still needs and wants - love and care.
That's what this is all about, I suspect. Your unconscious is revealing to you that your car, home, and career cannot replace what you never got. Since you give to your children in the same way that you give to yourself - clothes, schooling, toys - you might be acknowledging (at an unconscious level, at least) how unfulfilling all of this is. Your life - at this point in time - is all about looking good and feeling bad.
Psychotherapy would lead you to some congruity in your life. You have a ton of sadness inside, I suspect, so the first step might be to gently and lovingly get some professional help to deal with this grief.
Look at it this way...If you don't seek help for your depression and aggression now, your kids will absolutely need help soon. If the physical violence continues to escalate, you may not have a choice in the matter. The job of Child Protective Services is to respond to families in need. Either YOU can hear and address your own cry for help, or you can allow your state or county agencies to do this for you. It's up to you.
Be the grownup and be responsible to those children you love so much. Get help now.
Margaret "Peg" Burr, MA, MFT
This question was answered by Margaret "Peg" Burr. She is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC34374) with a private practice in Santa Clarita (near Los Angeles). She performs psychodynamic psychotherapy with individual adult clients as well as couples, teens, and families. She also runs groups for adults and adolescents. Her specialty area is Object Relations Systems Theory. This branch of psychodynamic psychotherapy uses a client's interpersonal relationships as windows into his or her intrapsychic structure.For more information visit: http://www.pegburr.com/