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October 19, 2018 - Welcome Guest!

Advice » Hard Knocks

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Simmering Dark Mood

Question:

I have not had the best upbringing, and for as long as I can remember my mother has been in and out of relationships with men. The men usually had drinking problems and my mother and the rest of my family was constantly under verbal and physical attack - not to mention the embarrassment when the neighbors called the police. The relationships never lasted very long and my mother was always apologetic and made up for it with kisses and gifts, but there was always another guy to replace the last one. Once we had to move, because this guy was really bad news.

Soon people were calling my mother a slut and a lot of my friends were not allowed to see me because their parents thought I would be a bad influence. At that stage I thought I was the only decent person left alive. Of course I felt bitterness and anger, but nothing beyond the boundaries of normal. I have always had a temper. I inherited this from my mother because, even though she is essentially a good person, she often blows her top. I am too big for her to hit me now, but it was different when I was younger. When a boyfriend wasn't slapping me around, I was being slapped around by her. This put me in good stead when I was in high school because I was often called upon to defend my mother's name. It also got me into trouble - if it wasn't my opponent who landed up in hospital, it was me.

My temper is not as bad now as it was then, but there is something else now. I don't know what to call it. This "thing" is not as violent and dramatic as my former temper, but it is a lot more calculated and malicious and it doesn't blow over like a temper. It is always simmering beneath the surface. It is best described as a dark mood. For the last year or so I have been fantasizing about killing people (always with a knife, because it is a lot harder to kill someone with a knife than with a gun - it doesn't seem as unfair. A knife is also a lot more personal and intimate.) Lately the fantasies are very vivid and my body reacts by producing adrenaline - I often shake uncontrollably because my body seems to be producing adrenaline at even the slightest provocation or even the thought of physical confrontation. (I am shaking right now). Most recently I have been dreaming of killing people at random. Before, my fantasies had always been directed at specific people.

Relationships with girls never last longer than 1 month, because they irritate the hell out of me. I am disgusted by all bodily fluids, therefore my sexual life isn't exactly what it should be. When I first meet a girl everything goes great, but after about 2 weeks I can't stand to be around them anymore. The obvious solution is to dump them, so I do. However after about a month I go through periods of feeling intensely lonely so I start hunting for the next girl.

Lately I find life extremely boring. I have tried drugs, but got bored of that as well - so I stopped. I don't think I have a problem, I think what I have is too big to be called just a problem. What do you think?

John (19 year-old man)

Answer:

Hi John,

Your letter, of course, is scary as hell! And I was tempted to run away from you because of this - but one thing kept bringing me back. It was your statement about yourself as a child: "I thought I was the only decent person left alive...".

I think if you know yourself this well - and if you will understand a few other things - you can help yourself a great deal!

Of course, the reason that you decided as a kid that you were the "only decent person" is that you WERE the only person you knew who seemed to have the time and energy to care. Your mother was preoccupied with her scary life, regardless of her good intentions about you (when she wasn't hitting you...). These men were preoccupied with the alcohol and the rest of their messy lives. Everyone was preoccupied and unaware of the "decentness" in everyone else. But YOU saw it! And you STILL see it (or you wouldn't be remembering this...)!

Now, as an adult, your whole letter seems to be saying that you are once again trying to decide if you are still "the only decent person."

Of course, I can tell you my own view - that there are many more good people in the world than bad - but I won't bother to try to convince you because I know we've had somewhat different experiences in our lives.

But look around your own world today... You actually have a LOT of hope, compared to when you were young. You have nobody threatening you physically (unless you provoke it...). You, yourself, are no longer violent and self-destructive in reality - only mentally (in your worries and fears...). You have women who are interested in you and who you keep in your life as long as you can (until the "fluids" thing bothers you too much). And, most importantly, you even have so much hope that you are writing letters like this one to try to get some understanding and help from professionals who are "strangers" to you! In general, although you have many doubts about all of us and whether we are "decent" or not, you have so much hope that we ARE decent that you have stopped beating us up, you keep having relationships with us, and you even ask us for help!

So, basically, here are the things I think will help you to understand and do better in your life:

  • You are feeling far better lately than you did when you had to live that childhood life.

  • You have obviously been able to meet and get to know a lot of people in your adult life who don't fit your childhood belief that there are no good people in the world.

  • You have already changed from actually being violent to only thinking about it.

  • Your thoughts are so violent because of how angry you are about how you were treated all those past years. In reality, they have Nothing to do with recent events in your life - the good ones or the bad ones. They relate to THEN, not now!
  • The actual things you fantasize about (the knives, the random killing, etc.) are not as important as the mere fact that you are HAVING such fantasies. Don't worry too much about the details of these fantasies, they are unimportant. What matters is that you are so angry, and that you are so sad down deep, that you have such fantasies in the first place. (These are common childhood fantasies actually, so they also show that you are remembering how angry you once were, not that you are this angry about events in your adult life...).

  • You know, or at least you hope, that there is good help available for you in your adult world. Seek it out! Go to a good therapist...and shop around some if you need to, so you can be sure you find a Good one who is competent at handling this kind of thing. There are "anger management" groups for people who have the kinds of fears you do, for instance. Maybe the therapists involved in this kind of work will be good for you. (If money is a problem, call the Mental Health Association or and Family Service agency and tell them so...)

  • Continue to be VERY careful of alcohol and drugs! We don't want you to start believing your fantasies too much, and these things certainly increase that possibility. (Congratulations on dropping the drugs...!)

  • Notice that your main current problem is Boredom! You are so bored and lonely that you have been "entertaining" yourself with your scary thoughts and such! Fill your life with EXCITEMENT that is SAFE for you and everyone else - whatever that means for you. Once you take responsibility for having enough excitement in your life you might be very surprised to find that you are a lot happier - and you'll have Much more energy to use in dealing with your fears and other therapy issues.

  • The problem with "all bodily fluids" is a specific problem related to actual events in your childhood. Don't bother trying to overcome this problem just yet. Start therapy with someone, overcome your fears and your other emotional pain somewhat, and then eventually this problem will come to the surface when you are more able to deal with it. (And don't give up on women just because of this! We ALL have "baggage" we bring into our relationships, and I know of much worse problems than this that women have been willing to accept in their men... When you know a woman well, simply tell her about this and ask her to accept you as you are. Some women will be too weak to be able to deal with it, of course, but Most women will not be!)

What you have IS "a problem," not something bigger than that. And there are many good therapists who absolutely CAN help you with it! Your job is to accept yourself as you are today and start that search for a Good therapist who has the expertise to be able to help with these problems.

Always remember that little boy who thought he was the only decent person in the world! Remember how much he CARED about himself! And remember that this little boy is You - and that you still care this much about yourself today, even on the bad days when it's hard to realize it.....

Start a campaign today to find a way for this little boy to feel protected enough and, eventually, loved enough.

He deserves to be treated well, no matter what kinds of fantasies he has or how bad he sometimes feels about the world he lives in.

I am very impressed that you wrote this very clear letter and I hope what I've had to say here is helpful.

Tony Schirtzinger, ACSW

This question was answered by Tony Schirtzinger.

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