Dance of Anger: A Woman's Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships

Category: Relationships
Author: Harriet Lerner
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by napjerks   2019-07-21

If it happens again you will deal with it again. Try not to put unreasonable pressure on yourself in the sense that the world will end if you're not perfect from today forward. You have challenges unique to yourself. Things happen that are out of our control. Then we remember who we are and what we're trying to accomplish. Then things happen again that cause us to forget. Sometimes we forget just for a little while, sometimes for a long time. But eventually we come back and remember what we were trying to get done. This cycle happens for everyone, just on different scales.

> I'm already in therapy and I have a psychologist they all know about it already but are not seeming to help

Remember you're paying them. So if what they're providing you in session isn't helping, seriously consider switching therapists. Keep going. Don't give up on therapy. But find someone else. It's ok to shop around if the person you're seeing isn't helping you feel better and help you be more confident in your reactions to life's daily challenges. Each time you leave their office you should feel like they gave you a technique to practice, a book to read, or helped you walk through a situation that has been bothering you and you just feel better about it after talking it out. If you decide your current therapist isn't helping, have a new patient appointment lined up with someone else as soon as you can. You can just call your present therapist's office and let them know you've moved on to try someone else.

You should have some king of homework to do between sessions, whether you decide on what that will be yourself or your therapist gives you something to work on. Try this technique, take this online class, read this book. But it all needs to be laser focused on your goals for therapy. Why are you there?

Writing helps. You can write a list out of your therapy goals. You want to cure A, B and C. You want to understand your relationship with your potential spouse or parents? You determine your goals. But then keep the therapist on task. For example, if spending five sessions talking about your parents hasn't made it better at all, why not? What's not getting done? Other priorities will come up and it's ok to switch gears some sessions. But you want to get back to your list of things you're trying to accomplish as soon as you can in the next session. You can even have a checklist to run through the first fifteen minutes, a few minutes on each one, then the remaining 45 for a deep dive on what you're working on that is most important, like anger management, personal resilience and mood management, etc.

Really work hard on not getting mad at yourself for getting mad. That only makes it last longer when you are already agitated and then start beating yourself up for it. Treat each incident as a learning experience. What happened? How were you feeling when it started? Were you already feeling bad? Or did something catch you off guard?

Everything that gets pushed down or ignored comes back. The more we try to maintain a plain, flat, placid facade, the more the volcano rumbles. And it can literally start to come out of nowhere. Tiny, unimportant things can make us blow up. What we are working with is fight-or-flight, regulated by the amygdala. The question is how it gets suddenly turned on by trivial things and how to see it coming a little better and ways to turn it back off.

So what we need to do is figure how to let a little gas out of the tires throughout the day so we're not walking around so tightly would up all the time. How do we do that? That's what the basic anger management techniques are for. There are plenty of online classes you can take and more books than time to read. But when we have a lot more going on at the same time, it’s a real challenge.

Keeping a journal helps. Write down what happened that made you upset. Any personal incident or interactions with others. You don't have to write a lot, just the most obvious, important details of what happened. Then, when you've calmed down you can go back over it to reflect on how it unfolded and how your reactions changed, sometimes over the course of just a few minutes.

You don't have to write every day. It's there for you when you need it. If you have trouble sleeping, keeping it by your bed with a good pen lets you write the thoughts that keep you up at night down so they're not rolling around keeping you awake. They will still be there on paper in the morning, so you don't have to worry about forgetting them and can address them once you've had a good nights' sleep. You're allowed to rest. Daily life is easier if you get appropriate sleep. Protect your sleep like gold.

That's one of the most powerful aspects of the journal. It's a memory aid. You can use it to create a to-do list and calendar, etc. But you can also use it to keep a list of what you are trying to accomplish. You can set your personal goals and track how well you are meeting them. Like your own project management system but extremely simplified. Bullet Journal (like bullet points) is just one method but I like it because it's a form of fast journaling, making it as easy as possible to get the info you're trying to keep track of on paper and all in one place.

If no one has recommended books on trauma and healing, these are very different books but I hope one of them might help. The Body Keeps the Score or When the Body Says No. I am only writing from the knowledge of someone who has deal with anger management too and been in therapy a long time but I hope some of this helps. Hang in there!

by RoarEatSleep   2019-07-21

>he screams at me and sometimes gets physically aggressive

That’s a red flag that I’m pretty sure everyone else is going to mention to you. It’s concerning and you need to think long and hard about that means, whether it’s fixable and whether he’s worth it to trust that he can.

I’ve recommend the book Dance of Anger, The: A Woman's Guide To Changing The Patterns Of Intimate Relationships so many times, but it was really life changing for me and my family.

Basically, your happiness is your responsibility. When you take action to do what needs to be done for you to be happy — not asking husband to do it, actually doing it — then he may begin to change his patterns, or not, and you can decide what you want your life to look like.

An easy way to start would be to start living like you are divorced without ever saying anything to him. So, his priorities do not matter. What do you need to do to get your house in order and make yourself happy if you don’t worry about your husband at all?

In my house several things happened. Husband makes good money so we can afford some help even though he complained about it. I gave him a choice - either you provide the help or I’ll hire it out. He wasn’t pissed, but (with therapists support) I decided not to care. I hired someone to do the deep cleaning and the laundry. When/if he decides to help more then we’ll stop paying for that.

Also, he likes the kitchen to be clean. As long as it’s not filthy it doesn’t really bother me. So, I wash off the dishes and put away food but I don’t have an immaculate kitchen most of the time. If it bothers him he can clean it up.

It sounds like you may have to enlist the moms to help with this and tell them that you’re trying to get him to pull his weight so please don’t pick up his slack.

by jjunebugg   2019-07-21

I'm obviously getting to this quite late, but had it bookmarked for a while to check out. :)

I agree with the points you made here, OP, and I think it's so important to consider these factors and influences before we judge the women. Because of how we are socialized, I am someone who has been guilty of judging Hannah B way more than I have judged Caelynn. Caelynn's way of coping has been more similar to mine and is definitely the more "socially appropriate way" even in how she didn't bring it up until she was forced to address it because Hannah B brought it up. Add to this that Caelynn is more contained and more eloquent, and I naturally sided with her in the beginning. Reading your very insightful and well-written post made me call myself out on what I've been doing recently when I watch scenes with their feud. Hannah's reactions have made me uncomfortable, but I completely agree that their (often edited!) behavior shouldn't make us believe one over the other.

I highly recommend this book if you haven't read it yet- I think it's right up your alley! https://www.amazon.com/Dance-Anger-Changing-Patterns-Relationships/dp/0062319043/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1476654196&sr=1-1&keywords=the+dance+of+anger

by RoarEatSleep   2019-07-21

I’m so sorry you were hurt by my post. That would never, ever be my intention. We moms have it hard enough without getting mom judgement. I’m glad you said something and I sincerely apologize.

The context is important because it does matter that your husband isn’t pulling his weight. That’s not something you signed up for and it’s a bullshit line of logic anyway to say you chose this. You chose kids, but you didn’t choose to have a husband who didn’t do his fair share. Life is hard, it doesn’t mean we’re not allowed to vent about it or be frustrated by it or expect people to do what they are supposed to do.

I really, really recommend dance of anger. I’ve also been in this spot — my husband is the organizer, but he’s a workaholic so he doesn’t help around the house at all. It’s something that I spent quality time discussing with my therapist when I had severe PPA. This was the book she recommend.

You are right to be angry. It’s a valid emotion and should not be ignored. The issue is that telling your partner to do better isn’t very likely to make him do better. The book is very, very helpful with this. Lots of logical consequences and lots of coaching you on not enabling him. He’s treating you like you can take care of everything because for a long time you have been. You cannot change his behavior, but you can change yours.

For example, you all choose chores for him to do. Say - laundry - and he doesn’t get it done. Rather than nagging him, just do your laundry (and maybe some of baby’s) and not his. His consequence is no clean laundry. Send it out to be laundered if you have to. It’s that sort of thing. It’s hard and it seems expensive but (as my therapist repeatedly pointed out) divorce is more expensive. For my husband and I, it was lightbulbs and basic house maintenance. I finally hired a handyman. It irritated me to spend money having someone else change lightbulbs, but it’s a hell of lot better than nagging him. And the money for that comes out of his monthly budget for fun stuff. His choice is to either do the handyman chores for the month or skip Starbucks. He chooses to skip the Starbucks.

Your husband going out 3 nights a week is obviously a problem. You’ve got to figure out the solution. Is it that you get the other 3? Or that instead of your nanny/cleaner coming during the day she comes those 3 nights and you both go out? Etc.

it’s hard. I repeatedly told my therapist that I didn’t like those options - what I wanted was for my husband to act like the partner I expected. She repeatedly reminded me I had the power to change my actions to make myself happy but had absolutely no power over his actions. So I was stuck only with the choices of things I could control to make myself happy. It was hard at first, but the more I did it, the better I got at it and the more my husband realized that I wasn’t his secretary. If he wanted x done he had to get it done himself.

Also. Please know. You are not alone. Lots of husbands have trouble making this leap. It’s been 2.5 years for me and my husband is really great 90% of the time. It just took him a while to understand how our lives had changed and that my vagina did not give me some sort of magical ‘get all the shit done’ power. That it was just as hard for me to do that stuff as for him to do it.

Good luck and hang in there. ❤️

by napjerks   2019-07-21

> I still need to think about my actions and focus on not lashing out at all. I can walk away from friends and loved ones when I’m angry but I should do that with objects too.

Yes, you got it. This is exactly the right thing to do. The important thing is to make the decision to not break 'anything' any more. You didn't realize they were important to him or that something like a string of lights can have value. That's a hard lesson you were finally able to learn. So take that and apply it to everything around you. If something breaks it should be an accident, not a fit.

Everything has value, not just material but spiritual. In Marie Kondo's KonMari method of organizing your house and reducing your belongings you don't use or need anymore, even when getting rid of something she instructs you to hold it in both hands and say 'thank you' before giving it away. That's to show respect for everything that has passed through your ownership and the next person who receives it will continue to experience joy because of it. Maybe it's just a silly Japanese thing but it teaches us to really appreciate what we have. One person's trash is another person's gold, as they say.

Instead of directing your anger to an outlet by breaking or throwing things, work on preventing it. It's ok to be angry, it's a natural emotion. Treat anger as information instead of fuel. Anger really clarifies what is going on in our minds. It crystallizes what we are thinking at the moment (even if it's wrong).

But it's not ok to break things, throw things, hit stuff. Whenever you do those things in front of someone else it's an threat of violence. I know you don't mean it that way. But how we behave affects our partners. When our loved one sees us smashing something in a fit of rage, they are influenced by it.

You can possibly find the exact same ones on eBay and buy him a replacement set. If you have an account you can set up an alert too if you can find the right keywords to search for. If you're not sure there are subs like r / whatisthisthing or r / ChristmasLights where you can post a picture and ask if anyone knows exactly what brand or make it is.

A book that might help is The Dance of Anger. Hope some of this helps. Don’t be hard on yourself while you’re figuring it out. Hang in there!

by napjerks   2018-11-10

You're a good friend to try and help! Remind her of course she can't kill her sister. And if she can't control herself she should live with someone else for a few days if she can to get a break from the hostility.

If she tells you she's going to and then she does and you don't intervene, you can be held partially responsible. So you want to carefully consider calling the proper authorities if necessary.

Has she ever been in therapy? It sounds like she would benefit from it.

What if you both read a book like this together? The Dance of Anger . Your local library might have a copy you can borrow for free or you can get it cheap on eBay.

by napjerks   2018-11-10

See what your library has that you can check out for free.

There's The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner. Not just for women! It has advice on dealing with anger in the family.

There are also books like Anger Management for Dummies that have great general tips and resources and is more of an "anger 101" type book.

But also remember, you can't change her. She's 19 so legally she's an adult. You can point out what she's doing that's wrong but it can also cause a lot of resentment if she doesn't know how to deal with it and you just keep calling her out. Try not to put pressure on her by just saying "you shouldn't be like that."

If she's open to therapy, ask your parents if their insurance will pay for it (if she's still covered by your parents insurance). Usually it's a $20 - $50 copay per visit. If not, it can be expensive about $100 per session. But usually you go once a week for the first few weeks or months and then once a month until you feel things have improved.

But sometimes the best you can do is just love her and be a solid family member. When she has an anger incident, remove yourself if it's disturbing you. Remember to take care of yourself as well. Your peace of mind has to come from yourself. Hope some of this helps!

by napjerks   2018-11-10

Throwing your phone is already a reckless move. It’s a visual and physical display of violence. Throwing things is bad. It’s an intimidating display for anyone watching and it’s self destructive. That is something you want to recognize as a negative outcome of a situation you felt you weren’t able to control. Whatever leads you to do it is a trigger for you.

Try reading Dance of Anger as your homework. It has great examples and techniques. Don’t be hard on yourself . Just work on what you know you need to do. Keep a journal and write your thoughts and notes on what your personal experience is and the techniques that apply for you. Good luck!