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The Story of An Angry Person:
A Journey to Change and Growth In My Own Words

by David J. Decker, M.A., L.P.

The following story is a composite of many of the stories of the people with whom I have worked over the past 20 years. There are many paths to learning to handle your anger more effectively and this article can be used as a way to look for elements and themes that may fit with your own personal experience with anger. This story may not be exactly what happens to you as you change, but if you are serious about wanting to address the anger that has been a problem in your day-to-day living, this article may give you some ways to think about the process you are embarking upon at this point in your life. There are two endings to this story, both of which, when all is said and done, can be considered to be “successful.” The first involves remaining with a partner; the second involves moving on from the original relationship.

The Wake-Up Call

Sadly, I didn’t have a clue about how anger was really affecting me and the rest of my life. I just didn’t want to think about it so I just put it out of my mind. As far as I was concerned, my anger was everybody else’s problem, especially my wife’s. I truly believed, for most of our marriage, that she was the real reason I got so pissed off all the time. I knew I hadn’t been all that happy even before we met, but I assumed that this was just the way life was supposed to be. I had always figured that my wife was supposed to make me happy. But it didn’t quite work out that way.

My “wake-up” call came when, after 14 years of marriage, my wife told me that our marriage was over if I didn’t do something about my anger. At first, I couldn’t believe she was saying this to me. I guess we didn’t have that great a relationship but I thought it was as good as most peoples’. We had a nice house in a good area of town. I had a decent job. We had two kids who were basically doing pretty well in school and in other areas of their lives. It seemed crazy to me that she wanted to destroy everything we had made together. At first, I was really pissed. I figured she had no right to do this to me and the kids, after all I had done for her. It seemed like a lightning bolt out of the blue. But she said she had tried to talk to me about my anger for most of the time we had been together. She told me that I had just “blown her off” in the past. She said that I had just blamed her and told her she was just “too sensitive” and that she should take me as I am and not try to change me. Fortunately, for me and my family, at this point, I finally started to listen.

My wife said she was sick and tired of my blow-ups and sick and tired of feeling scared in her own house. She told me that anytime anything went wrong, in my life, in our relationship, and around the house, I ended up taking it out on her and the kids. She told me she felt like she was “walking on eggshells” almost all the time. She said she hated the yelling, the put-downs, the swearing, the “silent treatment” that could go on for days at a time, and the times I pounded my fist on the table and slammed the doors behind me when I left frustrated after an argument with her.She especially hated the times when I actually stood in her way or grabbed her so she couldn’t leave when I was talking to her. I always thought I didn’t have any other option because she was treating me so poorly.

She told me she was afraid of me and brought up one time in particular when we were arguing in the car a year earlier. She thought I had “gone crazy” and had completely “lost it.” She reminded me that I was screaming at the top of my lungs at her, swerving all over the highway, and eventually I even reached out and grabbed her by the hair on the back of her head to get her to shut up and stop arguing. And, she said I did all this with the kids sitting in the back seat. I didn’t really remember that time very well and I tried to tell her that it probably wasn’t as bad as what she said. But she just wasn’t willing to back down.

She also said that she didn’t like what was happening to our children and how they were being affected by my “rages.” She told me that the kids were scared of me and said that our 12-year-old boy was starting to treat her and his younger sister the same way I had treated her. All of this was a complete shock to me. I had no idea that things were so bad. I didn’t show her at the time, and I wanted to deny it to myself, but I really felt bad as I thought back about some of what the kids had probably seen and heard. Even at that point, there was a part of me that knew they didn’t deserve to have to be around me when I acted like I was “nuts.”

Starting The Counseling

She told me I needed to get some counseling and start changing this part of myself or the marriage was over. I told her I wasn’t going in to see some counselor by myself but that I would go in with her if that was what she really wanted me to do. I still believed that she was the biggest reason I got so mad and I wanted her to hear that from the counselor. I figured if she could just do things right and treat me the way I deserved to be treated, I wouldn’t have to get nearly as angry as I had been in the past. But that sure wasn’t the message we got from the counselor.

I didn’t like the guy at first. He acted like a “hard ass” and a “know-it-all.” It seemed like he thought he had all the answers and he didn’t set my wife straight about what her part was and how she needed to change what she was doing so I could be less angry. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the real reason I didn’t like him was because he was being honest with me and holding me accountable. I didn’t have many people who acted that way with me in my life at the time. I guess a lot of people were scared of telling me what they really thought.

He told me that I was responsible for my blow-ups and that I probably learned what I was doing when I was a kid. He also said that I wasn’t “out of control” (as I had always thought to myself) and could make different choices when I got angry if I really wanted to. I didn’t like what I was hearing; I felt backed into a corner. But I really didn’t want to lose my marriage. I didn’t know how I could have handled something like that. He told us that trying to do marriage therapy when I was this angry wouldn’t do much good and that it made more sense to look at my anger first, get a handle on it, and then start to address and talk together about the other important issues in our relationship.

Needless to say, I wasn’t pleased. I wanted him to focus on my wife’s issues: things like her critical attitude toward me, her over-spending, her over-involvement with her parents and her sisters, her lack of interest in sex, and her not being strict enough with the kids when they acted up.

But he wasn’t willing to do that. I thought about not going back to see this guy but he was supposed to be some kind of “expert” on anger management and my wife said she didn’t want me seeing anyone else. I guess that actually made sense even though I didn’t realize it at the time. We had already tried marriage counselors a couple of times in the past and it went absolutely nowhere. We had just done the same thing in the counselors’ offices that we did everywhere else. None of them were very honest about my anger. I guess they didn’t want to address it directly either. And nothing changed in me or our relationship.

After some “soul-searching,” I decided to start seeing the counselor by myself. I was pissed about having to do this and felt like it wasn’t really fair but I didn’t feel like I had much of a choice. He and I talked about my marriage and how my anger had played a part in my relationship and in my family life. But I also began to notice how angry I got in other parts of my life. I didn’t always act on the anger I felt, but it was there. I always seemed to look at things in a negative way. There were times when I used to get really ticked off when I was driving. I hated tailgaters and the jerks who would try to squeeze in front of me even when there wasn’t any room. I would try to control my reaction when my wife and kids were in the car but, when I was alone, there were actually times when I chased other drivers and there were even a couple of times when I got out to “talk” with other drivers and we got into yelling matches. I didn’t think much about this kind of behavior in the past but I started to realize that I could have gotten myself into some big trouble in those situations. I also started noticing how angry I was at work. I worked for a boss who never seemed to think much about what I was doing for him and the company. He constantly criticized my work and I never felt like I was doing enough. I didn’t say anything to my boss directly (I didn’t want to get fired) but this anger and frustration about my job kept building and, a lot of mornings, I didn’t even want to go into work. I would even get ticked as hell waiting in lines at stores when a customer was slow or a clerk was incompetent or when we didn’t get in to eat at a restaurant. I didn’t say much about these situations either, but I would often glare and act pissed off. I even ruined some “romantic” times with my wife acting this way.

What I started to see was that I probably ended up bringing the anger from these and other parts of my life directly home to my wife and family. The counselor said that it was like I was tense and agitated from the time when I got up in the morning until the time when I finally went to bed. He called this being “escalated.” No matter what the situation was, I could turn it into something negative and hostile. I always just expected other people to “mess with me.” I had never paid much attention to all this before but it started to make more sense to me why I felt as unhappy as I did so much of the time. I also started to see more clearly how my wife and kids got a lot of my anger that wasn’t even connected to them in any way. This was something completely new to me. I always thought they were the ones to blame for how bad I usually felt when I was around them.

The counselor also wanted to talk about my childhood and my relationship with my father. This made absolutely no sense to me when he first brought it up. Sure, my dad was an “asshole” when I was growing up, but I couldn’t understand how this could have anything to do with who I was now. My father had a “short fuse” and blew up on a regular basis with me, my brothers and sisters, and my mother. It didn’t get physical very often but he was still a scary guy. When I was a teenager, I tried to do whatever I could to be out of the house whenever he was supposed to be home. But I thought that was just the way everybodys’ families were. What was really depressing for me was that I swore I would never end up treating my family the same way he had treated us. Unfortunately, I ended up just like him. But, even when I started to realize this, I still felt like I wasn’t nearly as bad as he was. So that meant the way I acted was basically okay.

My father ran a successful business and was a “pillar of the community,” as he used to like to say. Lots of people knew him and he seemed to be liked and respected by everyone around him. He worked long hours and was a good provider. I guess he thought that was enough. But even back then I knew there was something wrong. He just didn’t seem very happy even though he was successful and smart and seemed to be good at what he did.

He was incredibly demanding with my mother and expected her to “wait on him hand and foot.” When he came home at the end of the day, we had to stay completely quiet so he wouldn’t be bothered. It seemed like we were never quiet enough, though, and he often flew into rages about what “ungrateful little brats” we were. He constantly criticized us. It seemed like we could never do anything right and measure up to whatever he expected, even though I’m not sure I even knew what that was.

Sometimes our mother tried to protect us, and then he’d go off on her. I can’t remember how many times he yelled and screamed at her, but it was a regular part of my childhood. When this would happen, he would rant and rave about what a “stupid bitch” she was. I hated hearing him call her that. When I got older, I tried to step in a few times when he was treating her like this, but then I’d usually end against a wall or a door, feeling scared as hell as he was screaming at me with the veins bulging out of his neck. I hated how he controlled me and my mother and our family. I guess I even thought to myself back then, “when I get big enough, no one is ever going to treat me like shit again.” When I left for college, I never looked back. I talk to my mom once in a while now, but I hardly have anything to do with my father. He still acts like a jerk and I can’t stand being around him.

After a few counseling sessions, I started noticing, for the first time really, that my anger “triggers” were popping off around me almost all the time. I never even knew they were there in the past and I would just react. It was sort of like I was living on “automatic pilot.” Things just happened around me and I went along for the ride. The counselor said that this awareness was a pretty important first step if I was ever going to handle my anger more effectively. Two of my biggest triggers had to do with “fairness” and “respect.” I was constantly on the lookout for situations around me that were “unfair” and people around me who were “disrespectful” to me. Whenever I thought this was happening, I gave myself the “go-ahead” to react any way I wanted to address the “wrong” that was being done to me, which often meant becoming disrespectful, punishing, and abusive myself.

Sadly, “fairness” and “respect” were huge issues in my marriage. When my wife disagreed with me, I saw her as being “disrespectful” to me (after all, I was the man and “I knew best.”)

When my kids wouldn’t do what I told them to do or “sassed me back,” they were being “disrespectful.” And if my wife and kids weren’t respecting me, the whole situation was “unfair.” My wife and kids caught the brunt of my rage that had been inside me for a lot longer than I had been around them. I never realized until this point that I was responding to the “unfairness” and “disrespect” in my life by becoming unfair and disrespectful myself.

I also started to realize that I really did have choices and could actually do something different in situations that had been huge problems for me in the past. I always used to think that I was completely “out of control.” But then I began to think about why I said and did certain things at certain times. I never got in trouble at work even though I had been angry about my job and my boss for a long time. I didn’t usually act like a jerk out in public because I knew I might get in trouble doing that. I never used some words that I thought were really demeaning with my wife even though I could get pissed as hell with her and use other bad ones. And I never actually hit my wife even though I was violent in other ways. Those were all decisions I was making even though I didn’t understand it at the time.

Deciding To Go To An Anger Management Class

The next thing that happened was that the counselor recommended that I go into an anger management group counseling program. That seemed like a pretty dumb idea at first. I didn’t want other people knowing about my personal business and I really wasn’t interested in anybody else’s. In addition, he said it could last up to a year and I didn’t really think I had the time to follow through with something like that. But he said that, if I really wanted to change this part of me, the group could be a much better way to look at this issue because I could see myself in other peoples’ stories and they could see themselves in mine. He also said it was a way to get support and a better way to hold myself accountable. By this time, I started to think that this guy might actually know what he was talking about. So I decided to give it a try.

My first night in group was a pretty scary deal. I had absolutely no idea of what to expect. I thought the other guys would all be there because they’d beaten the hell out of their wives and had been arrested and forced by the court to be in the program. I guess I also thought they’d be “low-lifes,” whatever that’s supposed to mean, and I wouldn’t have anything in common with any of them. I couldn’t have been more mistaken. Only three out of the other eight guys were court-ordered and they didn’t really seem all that different from me. In fact, one guy had done a lot less than I had and he had still gotten arrested and spent time in jail. Even after only the first group, it felt like it made sense for me to be here. In fact, a couple of guys in the group even told me that after they heard me introduce myself that first night.

The group turned out to be a pretty awesome experience for me. We had to do these written assignments and then present them to the other guys in the group. The first big one was starting to identify my anger triggers and then coming up with what I was going to do to handle them when they were popping off around me. We were told that other people and situations wouldn’t necessarily change (even though this is what I thought I needed to have happen at first) but rather that we had the responsibility to figure out what we were going to do differently to handle our anger and our other feelings in those situations. We also did an assignment where we put together a “time-out plan” that we could use with our wives, our kids, and other people so that we didn’t allow ourselves to get to the point of escalating to being explosive or disrespectful.

The hardest assignments, though, came next. First, we needed to write out a history of any situation we could think of that involved us being disrespectful, threatening, or abusive with other people. I always thought it was just my wife and kids who “tripped my trigger” but I started to see that I had been abusive with men and women long before I even met her. I began to recall situations in junior high with bullies, in college at parties, with past girlfriends and in lots of other situations where I got in other peoples’ faces. Sometimes these even became pushing matches and fist fights. I started to see that this was the way I had behaved my whole life. I began to think about what I’d done to other people and how I’d affected them, especially past girlfriends and my wife and kids. I’d never given much thought to how bad other people must have felt when I did the things I did around them. That was something brand new for me.

This was also a time when my wife started talking more about how bad she had felt about the abuse I had directed toward her (and I was finally more ready to listen). She said that she had always hated the times I had pushed or grabbed her but what really affected her was the verbal and “mental” abuse. She said the name-calling and the put-downs had left “scars on her heart” that were much more difficult to heal than the redness or the soreness that had occurred when I was physical with her. When I was going off on her, I really hadn’t given it much thought about how I was really affecting her and how I made her feel about herself.

The other assignment that really affected me was when I wrote and talked about my childhood. Before, I had always told myself that “it was just the past” and I was “over it.” It turned out that this just wasn’t the case at all. I began to see how much of what I was doing with my wife, my kids, and everyone else had to do with what I was taught as a kid by the father whom I had sworn I would never be like. In reality, I had ended up taking on so many of his ways of looking at the world and I acted these out with the people closest to me in my life.

I hated how he treated my mom and me and, at some point, I must have told myself that no one was ever going to be able to step on me that way again. So when my wife criticized me or complained about something, it was like I was that little kid again, being put down and abused by my damn father. Only this time I was big and strong enough to get right back in her face and make her back down. She didn’t deserve it, though. A lot of times, she was just bringing up how she felt about something that was going on. Sometimes, she was even trying to be helpful and really cared about me and I didn’t even see it. These blow-ups also didn’t help me feel any better about myself. I felt self-righteous and “holier-than-thou” about doing it at the time, figuring that I was putting her or someone else “in their place,”but I almost always felt bad later on (even though that didn’t make much difference at the time in helping me change those parts of myself).

I guess I didn’t have much respect for women either, because my mother was pretty pathetic. She still doesn’t stand up to my father and I guess I came to expect that this was just the way things were supposed to be in a marriage. I thought I wanted someone who would listen to me and let me take the lead. My wife wasn’t like my mother, though. She has a mind of her own and I guess she just got sick of me constantly trying to push her around.

I learned alot from the assignments. They made me really think about who I had been and who I truly wanted to be in my life. I also learned a lot from the education we got every week in the class. I started to notice the negative thoughts that I was having and how they had a lot to do with how pissed off I actually got. I worked pretty hard on becoming more positive. I began to notice my feelings, not only my anger but lots of others, like hurt and fear, that I had just tuned out in the past. I didn’t think guys were supposed to feel things like that. I had always believed either that everything was alright or that I was completely pissed off. I discovered that there were lots of other things going on inside me besides just those two extremes. It was like I took myself off “auto pilot” and tuned into what was really going on. I learned ways to calm myself down when I was feeling uptight and even started a regular exercise program for the first time in years. In general, I started taking better care of myself.

A guy in the class said at one point that “when we’re talking about anger management, what we’re really talking about is life management.” That made a lot of sense to me, especially later on in the process. As I went along, It became clear that changing this part of me is about much more than just not blowing up. I began to realize that I was constantly making decisions about where I would go with my anger and all my feelings and I started making some better ones. I started speaking up for myself, not just with my wife, but also with my boss, my father, and my friends. I tended to “stuff” a lot of what was important for me to say in the past because I didn’t want to “ruffle peoples’ feathers” and because I didn’t want to look like a “wimp.” But, in the end, it always found a way to get out, and guess where most of it ended up? me going off on my wife.

Both the assignments and the education were important, but the thing that probably made the biggest difference for me was having the other guys in the class. I didn’t feel so alone anymore, thinking I was “crazy” and that nobody else had these kinds of problems. It was as if I could see myself and my situations in other guys when they would talk about their lives. Sometimes this reminded me of what I didn’t want to do and sometimes it taught me how to handle things in a better way. I also felt a lot of support from the other guys. Part of the expectation in the group was that we were supposed to make phone calls to each other during the week and they were really there for me when I was going through some tough times in the group. I had never counted on anyone else before the class. I didn’t think that guys could really be there for other guys. But there were some men in the group who really came through for me. From what they said, they felt the same way about me by the end.

Some Bumps In The Road

Overall, I liked the class. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t have some pretty rough times while I was there. There were even points when I thought about quitting. There were two or three times when I really blew up at my wife about something. We were supposed to bring things like this back to the class so I brought up the incidents but I was pretty blaming toward her and I guess I was hoping other guys would side with me against her. That didn’t happen though: the counselor and the other guys really pushed me to look at my part and what I could have done differently. I didn’t like that much and I left the class after those groups feeling pretty ticked off. I was especially pissed one of the times when my wife called the counselor because she wasn’t sure I’d be honest about what really happened between the two of us. I was embarassed when the counselor confronted me about some of the things that I’d done that I left out when I talked about the situation. I knew that wives could call in to the counselor as part of the program but I didn’t think she would do that to me. I felt really betrayed by my wife until some of the other guys talked about what she had done as her caring about what I was doing in the program and her really wanting me to change and succeed. I didn’t like what she did but it made more sense after I listened to their feedback. I even went home and talked with her about it that night.

Another bad time was about eight months into the class. I thought I was doing pretty well and I really wanted to get some credit from my wife. After all, I thought I was doing all this work for her and our family. But she didn’t see it that way. At this point, she was pretty “gun-shy” and didn’t trust that the changes in me were real or would actually last. That really pissed me off and this was another time when I seriously thought about leaving the group. But, eventually, I brought it up in group and got some feedback. A lot of the guys had similar feelings but, with their help, I started to realize that healing for women when there has been control, threats, intimidation, and abuse takes a long time. I had to decide if I wanted to continue to work on myself and to see if she could regain the trust and love she said she once had for me. The counselor asked me to continue working on myself and to look for the support and encouragement from the other guys in class and from some of my friends who knew I was in the class instead of expecting my wife to provide it for me at that point.

One Possible Ending to This Story

After The Class

By the time I completed the class, I had really begun to question how my thoughts and actions in the past were related to the values that I believed I had. I used to think that my angry reactions were completely justified because of how important the issue or “priniciple” was to me at the time (even though days or weeks later I generally couldn’t even remember what my wife and I had been fighting about). I started to ask myself whether all the things I had been so uptight about and had allowed myself to get so pissed off about were really very important in the broader scheme of what the real priorities in my life were. I truly wanted to love and be loved by my wife and I truly wanted a family where my kids could feel safe and could grow into responsible and caring adults. On several occasions, I’ve heard people talk about “not sweating the small stuff.” I finally began to realize that most of life is “small stuff” and I no longer wanted my anger to interfere in the relationships with the people in my life who are most important to me. Life is just too short.

In the end, I was in the anger class for almost a year. When I graduated, I was glad to be done. But I also felt kind of scared about being completely out on my own again. I didn’t want to start sliding back to what I had been before. My wife and I started marriage therapy and we’re actually doing better in our relationship. What the marriage counselor is saying makes a lot more sense than what I heard from the other marriage counselors in the past (maybe that has to do with how I’m hearing it). One of the biggest changes is that I don’t get nearly as defensive as I used to. I’m a lot more able to listen rather than just reacting when the counselor, my wife, or anyone else tells me something that I don’t want to hear.

I still get angry and my wife still gets angry but we’ve got some much better ways to get through these times. We’ve worked hard on communicating better with each other and addressing and resolving conflicts when they do come up. My kids don’t seem afraid of me now and sometimes they’ll even ask me if I need to take a time-out (I usually do need one when they say this to me). I really like that I’m a better role model for who a husband and father can be.

I kept the information from the class and, every once in a while, I still take it out and go over the different parts. I’ve decided that I need to keep thinking about this stuff. It’s all too easy, when I’m feeling stressed and overwhelmed in my own life, to start going back to the old ways of thinking and acting. I started this whole process wanting to stop myself from ever being angry again. But that just isn’t the way it works. My goal now is no longer to try to completely get rid my anger but just to recognize it and deal with it in a more productive way when it does come up. The counselor said that handling anger is a lot like what they say in Alcoholics Anonymous about handling the urges to drink: “a day at a time.” At least that’s the way it works for me. It’s a lot easier than it used to be. But it’s not automatic. I still need to be aware of what’s going on and to really think about it. I’m guessing that’s what I’ll have to do the rest of my life. Sometimes that idea feels kind of overwhelming to me. But if it means living the way I want to live and being with the people I truly care about, I guess it’s worth it.

Another Possible Ending to This Story

My Wife Decides To Leave Me

The hardest point in the group came very near the end of my involvement with the program. I had been working at this for almost a year when, all of a sudden, my wife said that our marriage was over and that she had decided to file for divorce. She had already called an attorney and had actually started the process. It was also at that point that she asked me to move out of our home. I couldn’t believe she was doing this to me. At first, I felt depressed and completely devastated. What she was doing seemed like such a betrayal after all I had done for her and our family by getting involved with therapy and really trying to look at myself and what I had done to hurt her and the kids. I had worked hard in this program.

I believed that things had really started to change for the better. She even acknowledged this at times but she also said that, after all the pain she had experienced with me, she no longer loved me and didn’t want to work on making things better with me anymore. Feeling depressed lasted for a couple of weeks and then I really got pissed at her. What she was doing was so unfair and it made no sense at all to me. I really thought about quitting the group at that point, even though I was just about done. I didn’t even go to group the first week after she told me about her plan to leave me. But I did call some of the guys and they called me just to check in and I started to feel lucky that I had them to talk to while all this was going on. Part of me wanted to fight her about this and to try to convince her that breaking up the family was just plain wrong. I even thought about getting a lawyer who could “rake her over the coals” and make the divorce as miserable as I could for her to make her regret what she had done.

I Choose to Continue the Process Anyway

But then I started to re-assess what I was thinking about doing to her. Fortunately, for me and probably for her as well, I had come too far to go back to where I’d been in the past. What I was thinking about doing was “the old me.” I guess, in a sense, I had learned my lessons in the program too well. I really didn’t want to return to the controlling and abusive person who I had been for so many years. I really didn’t want to throw everything away that I had been working on. I still needed and wanted to be a caring and loving father to my kids. I truly wanted to have a better relationship with them and I didn’t want them to have to go through what I had gone through when they got to be adults. I wanted them to be responsible and caring human beings and I still had the ability to be a strong and positive influence on them if I chose to continue to use what I had already learned.

This didn’t mean that I wasn’t still angry with my wife and that I didn’t feel bad about the divorce. But I chose, with the help of other group members, my friends and family, and my counselor, to handle the escalations with her as they came up and to get myself through the process without trying to get “revenge” on her for what she was doing. It hurt a lot, but I didn’t shut down or just convert the hurt to anger this time around. And I really started to understand how much I had actually hurt her in the past for her to get to the point where she did what she was doing now. I actually felt sad for her, my kids, and myself. The support I got from others was absolutely critical for me. Even after I completed the group, I kept in touch with some of the other guys in the program.

I kept the information from the class and, every once in a while, I still take it out and go over the different parts. I’ve decided that I need to keep thinking about this stuff. It’s all too easy, when I’m feeling stressed and overwhelmed in my own life, to start going back to the old ways of thinking and acting. I’m a lot better dad now and I’m proud of that. My kids aren’t afraid of me anymore and our relationships are a lot closer, even when problems do come up. I started dating occasionally six months after my wife and I split up. I wasn’t really sure I’d ever want to be in a relationship again, partly because I was so hurt and partly because I didn’t want to get controlling and abusive again (some guys in the program said they had been with three or four different partners where they were abusive). But now I’m a lot more clear about what I’m looking for in a partner and I’m a lot more aware of when I start to feel controlling. I’m responding very differently from what I did in the past. I really do want to make a connection with a woman I can love. I think I’ve learned that that’s what life is all about. I had been miserable most of my life. I learned that this isn’t the way life is supposed to be. I’m sure it won’t be easy in a new relationship, but I now believe that I have the awareness, the knowledge, and the tools to create a better and healthier relationship and a more fulfilling and satisfying life for myself.

I started this whole process wanting to stop myself from ever being angry again. But that just isn’t the way it works. My goal now is no longer to try to completely get rid my anger but just to recognize it and deal with it in a more productive way when it does come up. The counselor said that handling anger is a lot like what they say in Alcoholics Anonymous about handling the urges to drink: “a day at a time.” At least that’s the way it works for me. It’s a lot easier than it used to be. But it’s not automatic. I still need to be aware of what’s going on and to really think about it. I’m guessing that’s what I’ll have to do the rest of my life. Sometimes that idea feels kind of overwhelming to me. But if it means living the way I want to live and being with the people I really care about, I guess it’s worth it.

© 2004 David J. Decker, MA, LP
Phone: 612-725-8402 or 651-646-4325 -




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