I am a twenty-eight-year-old man with hopes and dreams of having a family and a wife to love and respect in the way that God has taught a man to love his wife. I have a precious girlfriend that I met a little over a year ago….

When I was a child my mother abused me a lot, and I grew up without a father because he abandoned us when I was three…. I have been working very hard at trying to completely forget the bad experiences of my childhood…. but it’s sometimes very hard to control what I think and feel. I have aggressive impulses that make me feel that I could hurt someone for no specific reason, and that makes me sad because I would never want to attack or mistreat anyone…. I need your help to completely eliminate these feelings and thoughts that make me feel so badly.

Dear Friend,

We are very sorry to hear about your difficult childhood. In spite of everything you went through, it sounds like you have become an honorable young man with dreams of having a different life and providing a stable home for your future family. We congratulate you on overcoming the past and looking forward to the future!

Unfortunately no one can help you to forget the past. Some memories will never go away, and the more you try, the more those memories will stay on your mind. Instead of forgetting, you need to change how you remember.

When you think about the things that happened to you, instead of concentrating on the horror, try to focus on how those traumatic situations have made you what you are today. Try to attach something positive to every negative memory and remind yourself of the positive character that you learned through adversity. You are probably independent, determined, self-sufficient, and motivated specifically because you want a different life for your future family than you experienced. You want your future children to have the secure and happy home that you never had. Possibly you would not have turned out so well if it had not been for all the challenges that you faced.

Your anger may be lessened as you begin to think differently about your past. However, you must also find positive ways to get the anger out instead of just desiring it to go away. One good way is to write down the things that happened and how they made you feel as a child. Add complete descriptions of how those memories make you feel today. Keep writing and writing until you feel some relief, and do it again the next time you feel the anger coming up to the surface.

Then copy down teachings from God’s Word that can help you with your negative feelings. One such instruction, written by James the Apostle, is “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”(1) Memorize those verses and others, and quote them to yourself many times every day. Ask God to help you get the anger out in positive ways so that you won’t have the impulse to express destructive anger.

Make it a practice to walk away from any situation when you feel destructive anger. But make sure your girlfriend knows that she should let you go and not follow you. If you remove yourself from people when you feel the anger, you will never hurt anyone.

We wish you well,

1 Jas 1:19b-20