Hi there… I have a really big problem… Occasionally when i’m drunk, I get violent with my boyfriend. We’ve not been back together long since it broke us up before, but on saturday I got really out of control. I dont remember any of it, but he’s told me what I was saying and doing. It seems that I say anything I can to hurt him and push him away. Some of the things I say may have some truth to them, but I wouldn’t dream of saying them normally, and some things I totally don’t mean at all… It’s like he becomes my enemy. I have no respect for him and just want to hurt him in anyway that I can… I keep telling him to go away, but in the worst way you could imagine. He loves me so much, so he wont leave, he’ll just keep taking it from me. I think it lasted for 3 hours on saturday. I have never had this problem before with anyone, and i cant figure out why it happens. I have been trying to overcome some issues I have for the last 3 years, but all the various routes I have tried haven’t really helped. I do need more therapy, and I was thinking about cognitive behavioural therapy, but I dont know if that would help with this problem. I know that I need to talk to someone about all of this, but I dont know who. There most definitely are underlying causes to this problem, but I cant figure it out, and having tried so many forms of therapy, I dont really want to waste time doing the wrong thing. I really need to sort this out, asap! I have never had this problem with anyone before. I really do love my boyfriend, he’s amazing with my disabled son, and puts up with the roller coaster I ride with my depression, but this is too much for him to take, and I dont want it to ever happen again. I cant live with the shame I feel because of it. I dont want to hurt him, I love him.. but why do I do it to him?! If you have any advice, i’d be very very greatful.
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I think it is a very good thing that you are concerned about this behavior of yours and an even better thing that you are considering doing something about it, namely going back into therapy. I wonder, however, whether therapy is what you need, or at least if a generic cognitive behavioral therapy is what will best help you. Cognitive behavioral therapy is designed to help people better manage problematic moods and behaviors that are caused by irrational and exagerated beliefs they have internalized and act upon as though they are true. In order for it to work properly, you have to be willing and open to taking a more rational and considered approach to your life than you are currently managing. This won’t be possible if you are drinking, because being drunk and being rational are incompatible states. If you are one, you are certainly not the other.
You are drinking enough on a regular basis that you are having blackouts and are becoming disinhibited enough to become violent. I think you need to get your drinking under good control before you go back to therapy, or at least, if you go into therapy now, be sure to tell the therapist that you become violent when drinking, and that your drinking is severe enough that you are experiencing blackouts, and then work more on controling your drinking in therapy and less on your anger problem.
Alcohol is a disinhibiting drug, meaning that it makes it more likely for you to act out in ways that you would normally censor. Alcohol puts your censor (your judgement about what is appropriate social behavior and what is not) to sleep. If you can get your drinking under control, you just may find that you solve your violence problem without needing further therapy. If you don’t get your drinking under control, I don’t know that therapy will be of much help for you.
There are a variety of ways you can help get your drinking under control. Alcoholics Anonymous is always there, and it does help a lot of people, but as you will find, there are also a lot of people out there who think the thing is an evil cult. My own sense is that while AA has flaws, it is on the whole a good and helpful organization. I encourage you to try AA and see if you can find a meeting or meetings where you feel safe and supported. There are other self-help organizations out there besides AA, some of which are based on more cognitive behavioral principles, such as Rational Recovery and SMART Recovery. If these are available in your area and you like the idea of a cognitive-based approach better than a twelve step approach, you might go with them in place of AA.
In addition to AA, there are quite a few substance abuse counselors and therapists out there who can help you work on sobriety. Be careful in selecting a therapist as there are a bunch of them out there and not all of them have something valuable to offer. You may want to seek out a program that emphsizes relapse prevention, which is a cognitive-based approach to maintaining sobriety.
Once you’ve got your drinking under control for a long while, then it is time to start dealing with the anger and the issues more directly. Good luck to you in your efforts to make your life better.