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Not sure how to define this - need feedback

beaneeboo

MyPTSD Pro
I'm feeling increasingly upset by my partner's rage. Hence why I'm writing late at night because when I go to bed (I sleep on my own), everything comes out. Can't stop crying.

Not sure if I'm being over sensitive or too dramatic and I know people go through alot worse. But I feel very alone with this and feel like I've lost perspective on it all. I don't know whether it's me.

My partner isn't an abuser but he lacks the ability to manage his difficult emotions. These over spill sometimes. There's a spectrum- he can be very sarcastic, points a finger alot, he can get angry and frustrated easily. He's never hit me or our son (but he has got physical with him during angry outbursts - which we've addressed and he has stopped. But he lashes out with words sometimes). He does love our son and does demonstrate this.

But, he also sometimes rages big time. I don't mean gets a little angry for a few seconds, I mean full on non stop rage for a while. Shouting, making rude gestures at me, shouting at me (blaming me for things), calling me bitter - basically he makes me out to be the bad one. ,He rarely (but can) punch things, he smashed something the other day, I think by accident. He makes faces and contorts his body in a way i didn't know was possible and screams as loud as he can. The neighbours can hear. It's really mortifying. When he did it last i just went numb for a long time.

Like i said, it doesn't happen often, but over the years, it's happened consistently. And then there are all the other spectrum behaviours inbetween. and I'm only just beginning to realise i don't think he's going to stop it. But then I'm not perfect either

I'm upset because we sat down to talk about it after (like 10 days after - I told him we need to know also how to manage it with my son). I expected him to apologise. He said he already did (he had very quickly in passing in public when there wasn't time to talk about it). Then he went on to justify why he raged this last time and started to get angry again with me. I really thought he'd understood he can't go around doing that especially in front of our son. But he just tried to protect himself in it all. This is one thing which is so upsetting. There has been alot of invalidating of my feelings over the years and I know he's gas lit me for a long time - and my son. But I think due to a lack of awareness- not on purpose.

For the first time i got angry back and voiced my thoughts. I told him my perspective. I think some of it did go through because he stopped being angry and started listening. But by that point I lost it and had to leave.

I'm very sad. I just feel increasingly I'm trapped and don't know what to do about it. I'm also ill atm so may be more emotional than usual.

What am I asking? I don't even know. I'm confused as to what all of this is. Am I over reacting?
 
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No. Shouting, screaming, blaming, insulting, breaking things and physically intimidating others is abusive behavior.

Whether he means it or not, loves you or not, is irrelevant. Humans are messy and random and chaotic. People can be genuinely kind and also genuinely abusive. They may have true remorse for their behavior yet still continue to perpetuate it. What it comes down to is this: you don't feel safe with your life partner, the other parent of your child. Safety comes in many forms. For now, you may feel that he wouldn't cross the line to physically hurt you.

But you know that you don't feel safe to fully express yourself and just relax. You deserve to feel safe in your own living space. If he cannot make himself safe to be around, then he has a problem. And it is his responsibility to fix it. He is a grown man. An adult. Our society has dictated that he is mature enough to be fully accountable for his actions and words.

If he cannot maintain emotional composure on his own and he is unwilling to seek help to change it, then you have a lot of thinking to do about your future and your child's future. Do you want your child to grow up in a household that is not safe? Is he willing to commit to managing his anger and aggression? If he is not, you may have to have a long, hard think.

Because unfortunately, I don't have a lot of advice for you. You've created a child with this person, and that means for better or worse he is an inexorable part of the tapestry of your life. But that doesn't mean you have no options. I have another post on this forum with some tips for behavioral/anger management if those might help, but he does need to sincerely want to address this. And from what you've posted, it sounds like he doesn't.
 
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Anger issues, coming out as aggression, is incredibly scary. Moreover, they are behaviours are directed at intimidation, fear, humiliation…control.

Aggression like that falls squarely within both the realms of abuse, and domestic violence. Depending on where you live, you may have an obligation to remove your son from that.

There’s limited value in knowing that. The question is what to do about it.

A lot of this behaviour comes from a person who lacks insight into what they’re doing, why they’re doing, the impact it’s having, and how to manage their emotions differently. Being able to level with someone you love, in a non-judgmental way, that this is a problem, and you’d like them to learn skills to manage their anger differently, can be a very difficult conversation to have. And it’s more likely multiple conversations, rather than one big successful one.

In a child’s mind, displays of aggression like that, even from a very young age (it’s likely that within a couple of hours of birth, babies are already registering and responding to emotional displays like that) makes the home environment and their primary carer unstable, unreliable and unsafe. Which is essential for more complex social skills and personal development to take place.

But it’s absolutely changeable. Anger management is a thing because it’s a skill that can be learned. In a lot of places, there’s excellent programs available that are designed by, and run for, men so that it doesn’t have the issues of more mainstream therapy that men so often find inaccessible.
 
You are not overreacting. I have been in a similar situation. The angriest person in the room is a power strategy. Unfortunately too many women and children are conditioned that this is just how life is and to accept it. Very common in codependent dynamic. It is a complex situation to be in. My suggestion is to disengage with that behavior as much as possible. Leave the room or the house—with your son if possible— every time he rages. Let him know that you will engage when he is calm but not when he’s raging. It’s a shift in what you are willing to accept.
 
Whether he means it or not, loves you or not, is irrelevant.
Wow. Going to ponder this.
Safety comes in many forms.

But you know that you don't feel safe to fully express yourself and just relax.
very true. It's exhausting.
If he cannot maintain emotional composure on his own and he is unwilling to seek help to change it, then you have a lot of thinking to do about your future and your child's future.
This is what's scaring me. I do know this. But it's also not as simple as removing my child from this. My partner isn't intentionally abusive and also does things to support and demonstrate his love for our son. And I worry that by taking him away from his dad so he has less choice about when he sees him that in itself causes trauma. Separating is also traumatic for children. For everyone.

Aggression like that falls squarely within both the realms of abuse, and domestic violence.
I'm really open to understand more about my experience, but I don't understand this bit. I'm willing to try to reframe my thinking. I just don't see how abuse/domestic applies to me. I guess this is the crux of my situation - trying to figure out how valid my feelings are in relation to it all. And to see whether I'm over reacting. Or whether, like my partner says, I'm making him out to be someone he's not.

Why do I not see this as abusive or domestic violence (I'm not fighting what you're saying here btw - I'm trying to work through my thoughts). Because the rage doesn't happen often. The anger and frustration and bad attitude yes but not the rage. Because it's not intentional towards me - he's not consistently targeting me on purpose ... the rage arises out of his inability to control his emotions. Because I think one reason it keeps happening (over the years) is his genuine complete lack of awareness of the impact on us - he himself says this is normal for him given how he grew up.

I guess I'm wondering what tips the balance for behaviour to be abusive.
A lot of this behaviour comes from a person who lacks insight into what they’re doing, why they’re doing, the impact it’s having, and how to manage their emotions differently.
100% correct in this situation
Being able to level with someone you love, in a non-judgmental way, that this is a problem, and you’d like them to learn skills to manage their anger differently, can be a very difficult conversation to have. And it’s more likely multiple conversations, rather than one big successful one.
I have over the years told him his frustration/ anger with my son is something he has to get a handle on. I've let him know there are parenting courses etc. He hasn't done any of these or looked for anything himself. He has tried not getting so angry but he has zero tools to help himself.
In a child’s mind, displays of aggression like that, even from a very young age (it’s likely that within a couple of hours of birth, babies are already registering and responding to emotional displays like that) makes the home environment and their primary carer unstable, unreliable and unsafe. Which is essential for more complex social skills and personal development to take place.
This is really important for me to hear. Something I know deep down but also need to read. I feel like I'm the one responsible for making that decision for my son over and above my husband as to whether staying is better than leaving or not. Both options are traumatic. And I feel it's unfair that I have to be the one to make that decision when I'm not causing the anger.
But it’s absolutely changeable.
Only if the person is willing.

You are not overreacting. I have been in a similar situation.
I'm sorry you've experienced this also. I hope you are safe and happy now.
The angriest person in the room is a power strategy.
Thank you for pointing this out.
Unfortunately too many women and children are conditioned that this is just how life is and to accept it.
: (
Very common in codependent dynamic. It is a complex situation to be in. My suggestion is to disengage with that behavior as much as possible. Leave the room or the house—with your son if possible— every time he rages. Let him know that you will engage when he is calm but not when he’s raging. It’s a shift in what you are willing to accept.
This is a small change that is tangible and doable in the short term. Thank you. So simple but I hadn't thought of it. It disempower that rage and help me and my son distance ourselves. Thanks.
 
You must accept the very likely possibility of this escalating. In regards to your child, leave to a family members house or friends. It is time to set the rules of your own safety and peace of mind. You can never compromise with danger, abuse, wrongfulness and/or worse. NEVER!!! You are a victim of domestic violence as I have been through it myself and walked plenty of others through it. Your partner is not going to change, not right now. If you do not leave soon, the only place we may see you is on the news. Please just leave, take courage and leave. You can always love your partner, but never accept what they do nor be around it.
 
Why do I not see this as abusive or domestic violence
That’s okay. This is the common starting point, especially with ptsd - minimisation.

If it were a different couple, with someone else’s child, experiencing this, would you see it differently?

Sometimes feeling it isn’t bad doesn’t actually matter. Once you rationally understand, then you can decide to change behaviours irrespective of your feelings, because feelings aren’t facts.
Because the rage doesn't happen often.
That’s fantastic! So, he is able to feel angry, and not always go straight to 10. Which means he does have some skills, even if he isn’t aware of them:)
it's not intentional towards me - he's not consistently targeting me on purpose
For me, that’s the difference in whether to stay and help, or leave immediately.
He hasn't done any of these or looked for anything himself. He has tried not getting so angry but he has zero tools to help himself.
Are there things you could do together? Like a CBT course?
 
And I worry that by taking him away from his dad so he has less choice about when he sees him that in itself causes trauma. Separating is also traumatic for children. For everyone.
I get it. For me, I would look at it from the perspective that this child will eventually grow into an adult. And I think that most adults would agree that they understand that they would have to be removed from a situation where someone is repeatedly abusing both their mom and themselves. And that they would appreciate this in adulthood, even if they might not understand or it might cause some short-term harm in childhood.
 
Is he agreeing he needs to address this? We all have flaws, but we all need to take responsibility for them. If he can’t see anything wrong with his behaviour (and he really should, as he should be upset with himself, and how he treats you and his son), then there is little motivation for him to change.

This is what's scaring me. I do know this. But it's also not as simple as removing my child from this. My partner isn't intentionally abusive and also does things to support and demonstrate his love for our son. And I worry that by taking him away from his dad so he has less choice about when he sees him that in itself causes trauma. Separating is also traumatic for children. For everyone.
this is you trying to solve the problem for everyone. And sadly, it may boil down to what you think is the least worst option.
the best option is that your partner agrees to work on himself and changes.
if not, your options are staying as it is with him behaving like he does, and the risk this escalates too.
or leaving, and dealing with the fall out from that and helping your child through it.


I’m sorry you’re going through this and I’m sorry your partner isn’t taking responsibility.
 
i don't care to opine on your relationship, beeneeboo, but my own partner and i have had more names than i care to count for the list of yaddah blahs you covered here. we've danced many a round in the 43 years he has done his best to support me through realities which are hard to discuss in a therapy support group of equally affected people who have lived through the yaddahs of the ptsd blahs.

the name which seems to be working for us lately is, "the egg shell waltz." lately we've been sweeping away those egg shells and -miracle of miracles- he seems to be learning how to listen instead of running for his toolbox for screwdrivers to tighten the loose screws. gee. . . why would i get angry about screwdrivers in my ear?

but that is me and each relationship is even more unique than the individuals who are relating.

steadying support while you sort your own.
 
If it were a different couple, with someone else’s child, experiencing this, would you see it differently?
Good point. Probably. If it were one of my my oldest friends, I 'd probably see the issue stemming from the partner's inability to regulate emotions etc, but would find the longevity of the situation difficult to justify her to stay in.
Sometimes feeling it isn’t bad doesn’t actually matter. Once you rationally understand, then you can decide to change behaviours irrespective of your feelings, because feelings aren’t facts.
in a way it's the other way around for me. During the day I numb out to it all because like is busy and I can't process everything going on. Esp with the DDNOS. Sometimes everything just dissipates. But at night I'm then over come with powerful feelings of desperation and I can't rationalise why I get so upset about it all. (Maybe because I'm not seen or heard or considered in it all and haven't been for years). It's like my rationalisation hasn't caught up with the level of feeling.
That’s fantastic! So, he is able to feel angry, and not always go straight to 10. Which means he does have some skills, even if he isn’t aware of them:)
Yes absolutely.
For me, that’s the difference in whether to stay and help, or leave immediately.
It boils down to this for me. If he were to hit it may make it easier to leave. Although I have been worried of that possibility on occasion, I really don't think he will. And when he's not raging he's not an aggressive or macho type at all.

My issue is likely never to be whether to leave immediately. My issue is, over years and years of my, and more importantly my son's, lifetime, do we have to tolerate walking on egg shells so that my partner's low resources don't turn into a bad mood, which then develops into a low tolerance (and bad attitude), which turns to frustration about banale things, which leads to anger which may, now and again lead to rage? It's the drip drip effect. The constantly wondering how he'll react to things and trying to manage it all.

Part of me says alot of people get angry and partner's deal with it. Maybe it's that my earliest experiences with my father included rage and anger and scary out of control situations. Maybe I'm seeing it all through a lens which doesn't belong.

But then my son gets worried about his dad getting angry sometimes and comes to me about that. Or says that people that don't know him (my son) don't have the right to get angry and rage because they aren't close family. Ie. Is he internalising that its ok to be raged at by the people who are closest to you? And i think these are not healthy life lessons...

But if I leave, I'll break both of their hearts. And I think my son would say he'd prefer to stay and have the rage and anger and difficult parts of his dad rather than leave. But then he's only 11.
Are there things you could do together? Like a CBT course?
Maybe... I'll look into it. My partner in 21 years has NEVER taken on any suggestion of mine to help himself or do something for himself to help his stress. He is constantly stressed and complaining of physical ailments. So I don't think he would. I asked if he'd go to therapy. He went for a few months. Didn't make progress. Says he won't go again.
 
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