Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Dark Side

I had a little meltdown today (because I'm dramatic like that) and to cope with my feelings started yelling at B. This sadly is a recurrent habit of mine (in fact, it was the impetus for one of my New Year's resolutions): I get stressed out about something, and feel overwhelmed by my feelings, and as a coping strategy decide that everything wrong is his fault. Blaming and yelling at him paradoxically makes me feel calmer and more in control of everything (at least in the moment: later I feel horribly guilty and full of shame). Of course it tends to have the opposite effect on B (since having your wife morph into a raging bitch viciously telling you that "all you do is try to ruin things for me" is not very soothing).

In a way it's just a bad habit: in other words, it's a coping strategy for dealing with stress (just like eating too much, or smoking), which has negative effects far outweighing the benefits it provides. I don't need to scream and yell (it's a choice, not a compulsion); I just do it because I get something out of it. Obviously I need to stop, because 1. it hurts others; 2. it makes me feel bad about myself; and 3. the costs of the strategy far outweigh the benefits.

I know why I do it (for the immediate soothing effect), but the interesting question really is, why does verbally abusing others (in this case, B) make me feel calm? It's pretty much a horrible thing to admit about yourself, I must say. Maybe because I feel out of control, and at least can have control over others (by causing certain emotional reactions in them)? I am not sure.

My mother did the same thing (to my father), and I think my grandmother did too (to my grandfather), so it's likely that it's in large part a learned behavior. This is one reason why I need to change my behavior--because otherwise little R will begin copying me.

I've actually made pretty good progress this year so far (this is the first incident in a long time), but obviously have a lot more work to do.


  1. Guilty here too for a long time (like my whole life) until I found 5HTP. A LOT of my "issues" were resolved when I realized that I just have naturally less seratonin than other people.

    Things like small noises made me fly into a rage, I would get annoyed at small soft touches, and I would fly into bad rages at people I loved. I started taking 5HTP and it all stopped. Plus, I stopped binging on sugar and bread (they create seratonin) and lost 15 lbs. My family also raged, but turns out low seratonin is genetic.

    1. That is really interesting. I am not sure if it's available here (will check at the supplement store), but if not I will check it out once we visit the US in June.

      B tells me that 5HTP is basically less-effective Zoloft (he has a degree in biochemistry so knows a lot about drugs). However, since I found Zoloft effective when I was actually depressed, maybe a less effective version would be perfect when I am not actually depressed?