Krissie: Anger

8 Dec

Had a GREAT time with Alex. Tim took him home at the end of the day when the kitchen filled with water, but we had fun decorating, and then I found a box of old toys (god knows why they were here) and brought them down and Alex was entranced and then, heh heh, he took them home with him! One box less, and one happy grandson. I have no idea why we saved them — it’s one thing to save Legos and Playmobil and wood trains. But plastic army stuff?
I gotta not clean and decorate today because my back is really protesting after two days of heavy lifting. Ooooh, it’s Hannukah? Potato pancakes!!!
So today some sewing, some wrapping, a little food shopping (gotta buy the liquid plumber). Just a day for fun.

Ah, but let’s talk about anger. My anger issues are all shaped by my mother. Well, no, maybe shaped by my family.

But first my mother. I think she had an addiction to rage. In fact, she was proud of it. She called it part of her Viking heritage, the berserker rages. She thought being berserker (a Danish term) was something to be proud of. I remember when I was seven my sister and I tried to see if she’d get through one day without a rage. (She didn’t). My father had an inappropriate sense of humor, and he called her “Hurricane Virginia” or “Old Yeller.” (He was pretty funny). She would turn red in the face and scream, she’d smash dishes, throw things, she went after me with a fire poker (tried to break down the bathroom door I was locked behind) went after my sister with a knife as she ran into a neighbor’s kitchen. I don’t know what would have happened if she’d caught either of us. She wasn’t warm and fuzzy when she wasn’t angry. What we did together, the fun, warm times we had that I can remember, was when we went into Philadelphia to shop. We’d go by train, and go to the department stores and eat at places like the Crystal Tea Room at Wanamakers. It’s no wonder that I connect shopping with happiness.
She always felt ill-used, though in fact she wasn’t. She did disappear into mental hospitals a couple of times, and then finally ended up spending weeks (months?) in the local hospital having shock treatments. Didn’t cure the rages though it knocked her out of her depression. As a child she was very sickly, and she was also the baby, and apparently she had amazing tantrums and screamed a lot. I’m surprised my tough grandmother put up with it, but since my mother nearly died, maybe that was why. I also suspect my grandfather may have molested her and my aunt (it’s a long story). We’ll never know, but my cousin and I put some things together.
But I can’t go smash things because the sound of smashing dishes (even one dropped accidentally) sends adrenaline shooting through my system. Even slightly crashy-sounding cleaning noises freak me out (she could never do any cleaning without slamming things around). Even though she adored me for the last twenty or so years of her life and the rages were mostly gone, I still react. (I think her chronic panic attacks were simply a form of her rage issues).
As for my father, he was funny and charming and bipolar and an alcoholic and pill-popper. But when he was okay be was so much fun. He was a musician (as well as an editor) and we shared that (I was the musical one). But when he was drunk he broke things (including the record player, which, trust me, was like tearing my heart out back then). He slapped me across the face a couple of time too (which as a parent you don’t do).
My sister had a temper. She’d break things too. I remember her shaking her babies’ cribs in a rage when they woke her up crying, though in general she was an excellent mother. What she lacked in day to day stuff she made up for in love. No matter what, her children knew she loved them, and that got them through a lot.
And my baby brother was brilliant, with a sly, wicked sense of humor and alcoholism and addictions like my father. My father died at 58 (fell down the stairs and broke his neck) and Dougal died at 40 (alcohol poisoning) and both were bipolar (the drugs and alcohol were self-medicating).
So no wonder anger terrifies me. The sound of a broken dish or glass makes me panic. It’s either someone in an uncontrollable rage or someone’s drunk again.
I remember when I was a lot younger (teens or twenties) thinking that if I lost my temper I would become catatonic and never come back. Seriously, I believed that. (I must have known there was incredible rage hidden inside me).
So … the one person I could fight with, at least a little bit, was my sister. The last fight I had with her was right before Kaim (Tim’s sibling) arrived, 29 years ago, and it was very calm (at least on my part). Calm, biting anger. And that only came out with Taffy. With Richie I sulk or even snap a little bit (and then apologize).
That’s probably one reason Richie and I are so happy together. He’ll yell occasionally, he’ll get angry in a healthy way (at Tim, sometimes at Kaim, at his sister etc). But he’s basically calm and steady and oh, maybe a little bit passive.

So, bottom line, anger has terrible connotations for me. I don’t know to use it. The few times I let a little anger loose with Kaim when she was little she would say that I scared her. (And I very seldom got angry with her). Mainly if something made me angry it first made me feel sick and then made me cry.

And despite everything we’ve gone through with Tim (I first typed “Tim has put me through” but that’s my mother talking. I believe in taking responsibility for my own reactions because I can’t change other people). Anyway, despite some really awful things and real emotional abuse I’ve never even snapped at him. In fact, one time when we visited him in a therapeutic school I asked him if I could get angry at him. (He was always really mean to me when we visited). He said no.

So the total spazz-out was a long time coming. My voice is still raspy five days later (this happened on Monday). I can’t believe I could have done permanent harm. I hope not, because I love to sing, and my soprano was getting very strong after Sound of Music (I couldn’t believe how powerful it was at the Christmas luncheon last Saturday). If I’ve lost it …

I probably haven’t. My voice just needs time to recover.

So I need to learn how to embrace anger in a healthy way, not to bottle it up until I go nuts. I’ve been dealing with suppressed anger toward Richie over a number of things, when I’m never mad at Richie. And I was never angry in a healthy way at my parents. Or at my brother and sister for dying of their fucking addictions and leaving me …

Enough. Don’t want to start the day in tears. It’s another day of nesting and sewing and having fun. And my therapist and I will talk about anger next week.

43 Responses to “Krissie: Anger”

  1. Tricia Halliday December 8, 2012 at 9:54 am #

    You look so happy in your pic! Have a great day doing whatever you feel like.

  2. Skye December 8, 2012 at 10:30 am #

    Anger and rage tend to be difficult for women in our culture to admit to, much less embrace. Generally when we get angry, we cry. Others (and we) tend to think of it as a weakness; I think it keeps us from throttling the object of our anger. :) But to get to where you can let your anger out in a healthy, non-threatening way is good. And it sounds like screaming and yelling was the best way in this situation.

    Your hoarseness may also be your mind’s reaction to letting out such anger. As you say, you are not comfortable with it. But I say good for you.

    Sip really warm water with honey in it for your throat, or just take a spoonful of honey, if you can stand that. It is good for your throat.

    You look terrific today. Keep up the smiling. Did you get your dishwasher fixed?

  3. Robin S. December 8, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    You look pretty good. I hope the rest of the day goes well.

    I noticed on yesterday’s post you talking about your septic tank. You are supposed to get them pumped out every 2 years to keep the solid stuff from reaching the pipe to your leach bed. If the solid stuff gets into your leach bed it will clog it up and you’ll have to replace the whole damn thing. Around here that’s about $10,000 worth of fun. Hope it’s just a clogged drain!

    • Krissie December 9, 2012 at 9:19 am #

      I think that probably depends on the soil etc. Around here the suggestion is every 10 years. I don’t think it’s the septic system because it doesn’t react to the washing machine or the shower.

  4. Pam P. December 8, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    I’ve heard that anxiety and depression are anger turned inward. I don’t know if that’s really true, but I know about abusive parents and about swallowing anger instead of letting it out. The thing is, if you’re raised by people who get violent and mean when they’re angry, and you’re lucky enough to realize that that’s not okay, you don’t do that, but that doesn’t mean you know what you should do.

    I’m trying to find the right way (and maybe there is no “right way”) to be angry. I feel like an idiot when I do it, and it still scares me, but I make myself say, “I’m angry about this” to DH & kids when I’m angry. It’s just baby steps, but hey, baby steps will get you there eventually. And it helps relieve that “gonna lose it” feeling.

    • Mariana Chaffee December 8, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

      Anger is frightening, but it is real. The best expression of it I ever saw was my grandson, then three, stamping his foot and yelling “I’m angry! Angry! Angry!! Angry!!!” and then stomping off by himself to cool down. I was stunned with admiration.

      • Pam P. December 8, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

        That’s funny. And completely awesome.

      • Lois December 9, 2012 at 8:07 am #

        maybe we should all do that!

        • Micki December 9, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

          I think I am when I get home. I’m not sure why I’m angry (might be something at work), but I do feel a little tense and upset. I’m thinking it would be better to just have “angry time” for five minutes every day instead of letting it build up into a crying jag.

          (-: Then if I let myself be angry, I might let myself know WHY I am angry.

  5. Mary Stella December 8, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    Krissie, you experienced a lot as a child and it seems clear from what you’ve shared here on Refab that there are a lot of unresolved issues. When I read the story of your mother’s treatment I kept thinking, “If I’d gone through this with a parent, I’d have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.” Yes, YMMV, but it’s something to think about and maybe discuss with your therapist if you haven’t already.

    I think the fact that you finally let loose on your son was a long time coming. I had to learn the difference between using my temper and losing my temper. I’d suppress anger and not express it, even when it was right, healthy, and appropriate for me to do so. The rage would gather and grow until I finally hit the tipping point and exploded. Most of the time I turned it inward and ate a lot instead.

    Anger is an honest, valid emotion. You have a right to feel it when someone, even a loved one, treats you poorly. If you aren’t comfortable expressing it, you can learn — so that you don’t end up hurting your throat or your spirit.

    You’re making good, positive strides, Krissie. Good for you!

  6. Gina Black December 8, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    You can have your very own anger that has nothing to do with your mother’s anger. You are entitled to feel your emotions and to exhibit them in appropriate ways at the proper times. If that means screaming at someone who has pushed you to the limit then So Be It.

    Meanwhile…you might practice. I mean this sincerely. Try screaming or yelling when you are by yourself in the car and no one can hear you. It might help you feel more comfortable with it and also more like you are in control of it. That’s the problem with anger. It doesn’t have to own you, but it will if you don’t express it when it needs to come out and it gets all bottled up. Then it’s like a forest fire. You need to set some controlled burns so that it doesn’t get that bad.

    As to the voice. I’ve done that. It will get better.

    • Danielle December 8, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

      I love this – I was going to say something similar. I was going to suggest that you start visualizing your anger/frustration as a tank under pressure. When you feel the need to, it’s ok to open the valve just a bit to let off some steam. You CAN be in control of it – you just have to learn how to do that. It helps to practice by talking to yourself in your car (NOT that I would know ANYTHING about talking to myself in my car…). A “controlled burn” is exactly the way to describe it.

      The way to do it is to catch it before the emotion swallows you up, because once you get to that point, you’re like a drowning person. And a drowning person will do just about anything to survive.

      • Krissie December 9, 2012 at 9:24 am #

        Hmmmm. That’s interesting. Being alone in the car and screaming doesn’t work. that’s what happened the other two times I lost it, and it was horrid.
        But I do need to figure out how to practice at it. Like letting off a little steam.

        • Sarah Wynde December 9, 2012 at 10:57 am #

          I was thinking that you might try smashing things. You avoid it because it scares you, so what would happen if you did it until you were bored with it? Desensitization treatment is one of the therapies for phobias, and that sounded like a phobia to me. Of course, the problem with smashing things is that you have to clean up the mess afterwards and that’s not fun.

          • Sarah Wynde December 9, 2012 at 11:02 am #

            Oh, afterthought — I wouldn’t do it when you’re actually angry. Smashing things is not a good way to express anger, imo. I think the hard part is figuring out how to recognize the feeling and act on it before you need to explode. It’s like little kids who always wait for the very last possible minute to go to the bathroom: recognizing that there might be a need before you get in the car is just so much easier.

        • Gina Black December 9, 2012 at 11:52 am #

          I’m guessing that when you were in the car screaming and you lost it you really *were* angry. I’m thinking it could be more like a rehearsal.

          • Micki December 9, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

            And after you’ve practiced “being angry” a little bit, maybe Ritchie would help you role-play it. Since he’s got healthy anger, maybe he could help you guide “pretend” anger into healthier channels.

            (-: And then you could role-play make-up sex? Could actually be a fun way to spend a winter evening, as long as you set your boundaries. I wonder what a real therapist would say about it?

  7. JenniferNennifer December 8, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

    I’m with you, screaming and break things as therapy always made me feel worse. What I wanted to do is express it so that other people could actually understand my feeling; not easy when everyone is already whipped up, though it sounds like it actually worked for you this week.

    Anger, more than any other emotion, seems to call for education on how to deal well with our own, and other people’s. I am very interested to hear what all the refabbers think about expressing it.

  8. Kieran December 8, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

    I love my mom, but she would beat me on the rare occasion, literslly holding me down to the floor and slapping whatever she could grab onto. She’d slap my face, grab my hair and ear, and pound on my door if I escaped. I’ve also seen her throw a glass and a plate to smash them on the floor. But she was a super intellectual, too, a tremendous actress and singer, and bore 7 kids in 9 years. The oldest was severely mentally and physically challenged. I was the only child my mother did this to, so I’ve always felt like “the bad one.” She would say I brought it on, that I was flagrantly defiant, which I was. I always said what I thought. I never understood why I couldn’t say what I was thinking. I still have very little understanding of nuance or social survival skills, so part of me wonders if my son’s Aspergers came from me.

    One reason I don’t drink much anymore is because I’m so afraid of becoming another Irish alcoholic in the family. We have several. My mother was especially mean when she’d been drinking. We still have to be careful when she drinks. But 98% of the time, she’s nice and seemingly harmless.

    I’m just saying that I relate to having a volatile mother. But instead of avoiding conflict, I still confront it. I still mess up a lot. However, I’ve learned to handle it better than I used to. I’ve learned a lot about letting it go, not just avoid it but to let it fall away. I’ve let go of the need to speak my piece as much. I wish I could honestly shut up almost entirely. I’d like to let go of my ego and listen more. I get angry at myself for speaking here, for example. I wish I could learn to be a lurker. It’s ironic because that’s what my mom wanted me to do. But I think her reasons for it weren’t the right ones.

    • Danielle December 8, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

      Oh heavens, I can relate to this (not the beatings – my mother was staunchly anti-abuse…for which I am eternally grateful), but more the “wishing I could just shut up, sometimes”. I am… well, gregarious is probably the right word. My mother is a Lady. I am so so so NOT a Lady. She used to tell me, when I exasperated her by loudly saying something inappropriate in public, that I reminded her of my father. My emotionally-abusive, obnoxiously opinionated, dead-beat father. Not the nicest thing to say, considering I despised him. And it made me hate that side of myself.

      But one day, about a year and a half ago, I was at a funeral for a relative (she was gregarious herself, so the funeral was not a sombre affair – we told bawdy jokes and embarrassing stories about her…she would have thoroughly approved) and I realized that there is lots of room for gregarious people in this world. I love outspoken, opinionated, open people (even if they or others consider them obnoxious, sometimes) and I know now that I am loved by many of my friends for having those same qualities.

      I understand what you mean about ego: I have exactly the same desire to always “have a say” and make sure everyone around me knows what I’m thinking. And yes, I wish I could let it go and do more listening. But yoga has helped me immensely in this respect and you might find it useful (I do Ashtanga Yoga). But Kieran, your comments here are always concise, thoughtful and considerate, not to mention incredibly insightful. Please don’t think you need to moderate that – you’re an integral part of the community and that’s something to be proud of!

      • Kieran December 9, 2012 at 6:38 am #

        Danielle, thank you so much for your comment! I loved what you had to say about your own inner conflict about speaking up. I’m glad you came to a good resolution. You’ve inspired me with how well you’ve accepted who you are. And thanks for the kind words about my own “tawking” on Krissie’s site! XOXO

    • Skye December 8, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

      Kieran, I agree with Danielle: you are a part of this community and your comments are always insightful. We would lose something important if you stopped commenting!

      • Kieran December 9, 2012 at 6:40 am #

        Aww, thank you, Skye! I love this community because all of you are so interesting and brave and have such big hearts.

        Big hugs!

      • Krissie December 9, 2012 at 9:28 am #

        Amen!

    • Terrie December 8, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

      I definitely prefer your voice to your silence!

      • Kieran December 9, 2012 at 6:48 am #

        Thank you, Terrie!! I love hearing what you have to say, too. Everyone here has had a wonderful influence on me. I like having a window into each of your worlds, so to speak. We’re all different, yet we share a lot of similar worries/joys/sadnesses/hot buttons!

        This is a comforting place to be.

        :>)

    • Sarah Wynde December 9, 2012 at 11:31 am #

      I’m a lurker almost everywhere. I can’t tell you how many times I write comments and then delete them before posting. And when I do post, I totally beat myself up about all the possible ways what I said could be misinterpreted or whether I sounded judgmental or unkind. But you know, lurking adds no value. It’s not like listening in RL — on the web, when you’re just listening, the person talking might as well be shouting into an empty void. I’m not sure why you want to be a lurker, but I hope you can’t learn how!

    • Robin S. December 9, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

      Joining the group here. Kieran, you have to keep posting. At least you have a handle on what you want to say. I can’t even begin to tell you how much trouble my mouth has gotten me into.

      Sarah Wynde – like you I have deleted books worth of stuff. But places like this have tolerance and acceptance as part of the order of the day. It’s a good place to hang out.

      • Amie December 10, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

        I’m not up to responding like everyone else. I lurk more than post, and only make the occasional comment on something. Sad, since I’ve been reading this blog since the inception. I feel lost if I don’t know what everyone else has done all week, what’s irritated them, or made them happy. But, Kieran, I always read your posts and never thought you said anything inappropriate.

    • Lee December 10, 2012 at 11:03 am #

      There is a new book out which I found helpful:

      Jennifer Cook O’Toole’s
      The Asperkid’s Secret Book of Social Rules – the handbook of not-so-obvious social guidelines for tweens and teens with Asperger Syndrome

      It came out in September of this year.

  9. jinx December 8, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

    I think this is a great topic. It’s typically so hard, and especially for women, to figure out how to express our own anger, much less to cope with the anger of other people. The rules & explanations, generally, are not very helpful and often not very true.

    Your description of your mother’s outbursts reminded me of my own mother.

    Because her explanations were always of the “you made me do this because you made me so mad” variety (which I think is a totally false construct), I did a lot of blaming myself and others for her tirades or tantrums.

    I had an epiphany, though, when I was reading material on the Enneagram, which is a kind of shorthand for documenting various psychological defenses and suggesting how they interact. I’d always thought of my mother as an 8 on the Enneagram — very dominant, bossy, my way or the highway. But those characteristics also come up when a person starts out as a worrying, fearful Enneagram type 6, which is what I now think was my mother’s pattern. When she got overwhelmed with her fears of what people would think, what would eventually happen to the family if the children kept misbehaving, what people would say about her skills as a parent, and so on, she would burst into rages. It almost didn’t matter who was the target, as long as they were blameable. And the main point of the rage was to make herself feel better, which it nearly always did.

    I think useful anger starts out as a pretty calm but very firm “No.” We have a goal, or a wish, or an affection for things one way, and something starts to block our path to that goal or state of affairs. If we’re being all polite, or “nice,” or self-sacrificing about our own needs, the No doesn’t get said, or if it does, it doesn’t get said clearly and firmly enough to give others pause. So it builds up, and then you are screaming and running out of houses. And to the others in that situation, your anger seems to come out of nowhere, instead of out of a legitimate, upfront need that people are aware of.

    That’s my two and a half cents, anyway.

  10. Rachel V December 8, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

    Perhaps I am a different sort of person, but most of the time my anger gives me focus and drive. It’s a powerful emotion that I have to be careful not to like too much or else I’d let it out more often.
    And that just made me sound like a monster.

    • Skye December 8, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

      Not at all, Rachel. Many people use their anger as a driving energy. Many men do it; there’s no reason a woman cannot. It’s a good use of energy, and a positive way to channel it. Not a monster at all!

      • Rachel V December 10, 2012 at 11:01 am #

        Thanks Skye!

  11. Eileen A-W December 8, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

    I grew up in a house that was ruled by two controlling people who yelled at each other ALL the time. I swore I would not raise my children in a house like that and I held on to that. Marrying someone who is laid back helped with keeping my promise. Growing up I was not allowed to express my anger (yell) without getting punished, so I internalized it. My children have told me repeatedly that they appreciated not being raised like I was. The ironic thing is that my younger sister, who is also controlling, married another controlling person and they yell all the time. My niece also yells. They do not have a healthy relationship or family situation. Now, when I”m angry I find walking away and going on a walk, or walking on the treadmill, to be therapeutic . Along with listening to music or being near water. Krissie, do not be so hard on yourself. We all cope in ways that work best for us.

  12. Judy, Judy, Judy December 8, 2012 at 10:43 pm #

    Krissie – That is seriously one of my favorite pics of you!
    Anger is hard. Society teaches it’s not okay and there are lots of messages that being angry is wrong somehow. It’s not wrong or right – it just is.

  13. Terrie December 8, 2012 at 10:46 pm #

    Anger is such tricky territory. Denying our anger isn’t healthy. Expressing anger can be necessary and sanity saving. And yet, as so many here observe, how anger is expressed can be abusive. It can be unfair to others. It can hurt and damage. I’ve definitely experienced variants of anger healthy and un- in my life. For me now, I try to be aware of when I’m angry and consider how best to express it. I know that when I’m feeling angry, it’s a very short step to feeling self-righteous and I imagine myself expressing my righteous rage in all kinds of sarcastic attacks. Yuck! So, typically, when I’m actually about to talk to someone when I’m angry, I remind myself going in, with a chant no less, “no shaming, no shaming.” And as I’ve grown older and, I’d like to think, wiser, those are the exact words I want in my head. I don’t mind letting someone know I’m angry, but I never want to be that shaming voice.

  14. Lois December 9, 2012 at 8:22 am #

    I was a screamer when my kids were young. I often wonder what issues this causes them now that they are adults.
    Now if I am angry I try to fix what’s making me mad or I talk it thru with a friend or I go do something that makes me feel better (reading, walking, etc). And swearing, that helps too :) altho not at the person I’m angry with usually.

  15. Brussel Sprout December 9, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    Just to say what other people have said – that is the loveliest photo, really special.

    Anger is so tough. My history with my father is terrible – we’re estranged now and I would be surprised if we talk again before he dies. The last couple of times I’ve seen him, his behaviour either in general or directly to me has been horrible (e.g. trying to teach my then five year old a Nazi salute ‘as a joke’, racist diatribes, vindictive attacks on my ‘failures’) and then I discovered that he’d lied to my half brother and sister about his marriage to my mother – implied it was nothing, just a disastrous few months of his life – but they were in love for over a year before getting married and were married for 8 years – they divorced finally around my 9th birthday. Every time I think of that, I feel the rage and sorrow rise in me. But then I take a deep breath, get the running shoes out, go fold the laundry, go into the kitchen and slice vegetables or make some bread (kneading dough, very good for the soul) and remind myself that he is a pitiful creature, afraid, ashamed and warped by his own perceived failures, a man who has abused alcohol so that his kidneys and liver no longer work well, a man too frightened to deal with the simple cataract operation that would allow him see properly and read again.

    And it is partly thanks to the Betties, I think that I am able to accept the anger and the failure of this relationship, because I think it was the Betties who introduced me to Brene Brown and her writing about vulnerability and shame. Since reading her work, I’ve been able to step back and say, well, there are secrets and sorrows there that are nothing to do with me – I’m a convenient punching bag, that’s all. I know that he exerts control over my stepmother, my half-sister and half-brother, and where we could all be a reasonably civilised family, both my father and my stepmother are intent on stopping that because I do know so many of the things that they are ashamed of and they are terrified that I will reveal their secrets to my siblings. Except that they are not my secrets – they are secrets that in the grand scheme of things don’t matter, but if they matter so to these two people, I would not reveal them. I wouldn’t actively hide them, but I wouldn’t reveal them either.

    So it’s easier for them to be angry with me, to sustain a narrative in which I am a disappointment, a traitor to the family, a blot. I was very upset about this – but over the years, I have realised that I have so much else going on in my life that I don’t have time to fret or angst about this. There’s no point, there’s no changing it, so the anger needs to be dissipated and rechanneled.

    If you have a rich life of your own, and by God, you have made that with Richie and your writing and your amazing friendships, then you also have the strength to take the anger, to let it out in productive ways, and to move forward with Tim, where you and he begin to trust and treat each other as adults, as grown up family members. It does seem to me that he’s emerging from a deeply self-destructive path, and there will be slips and slides , and things will happen where he behaves abusively – but you’ve drawn the line, and now it’s time to talk it through – over the months, not days or weeks, and see how you build a relationship that works for you as adults.

    You have so much strength and power – give yourself a break, rest that voice, and it will all come together. FGBVs.

    • Micki December 9, 2012 at 8:55 pm #

      I don’t know if this will help, but I was estranged from a family member for about three years before that person died (a few years ago). It made for some odd family dynamics during the three years, but I still don’t regret taking that stance. Sometimes the estrangement is the healthiest thing for everyone.

  16. kate December 9, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    Bipolar with a rage component is the term for your mother I believe. Boy am I glad I am on medication, that need to self medicate when you feel so bad and the tension is so great is undeniable. I have sympathy with your family. Without medication, I don’t know where I would be.

    Anger is ok, people deserve to get angry when something wrong happens. Meanness on the other hand is unacceptable. My husband never learned how to fight; he never learned how to argue with love and kindness. I have spent the last 18 years working on that one! Now he only gets angry a few times a year and I have learned to laugh in his face and tell him he is ridiculous and inappropriate and childish. Works wonders. He still gets so mean when cornered. Calls me a bitch and whore and tells me the only reason I have women friends is because I want to sleep with their husbands (ewww). However, I think if he got angry more often, showed frustration or his disagreement, the one or two times a year he really loses his temper would not happen. I have been working on that too, trying to teach him how to argue and disagree lovingly. Since I am bi polar with an anxiety component, I always try to fix things and keep him from being angry. What a mistake. Instead of trying to keep it from happening, he needs to practice at being angry properly. Angry with manners, with communication, with respect.

    Anyway anger is human and if you don’t teach your kids how to deal with anger how do they deal with it in themselves? We all feel it and we all need to learn how to express it. It’s ok to see your parents get angry or have them get angry at you – it’s not being mean or cruel that matters.

  17. stephanie December 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

    I have a horrible time speaking up on my own behalf. i just work around the space that exists – like an eel. I don’t push back and I don’t get angry when I should. I need to learn how. maybe i’ll work on this next year.

  18. Maria Powers December 10, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    I am late and no one may see this, but for me anger is always a secondary emotion. Anger is a defense that protects me from my feelings of pain, fear, frustration and the combination of all of them.

    When I think of my anger as that, then it makes it easier to deal with. I then have to look below the anger at what is really driving it. I then speak to the primary emotions that cause the anger. I am not perfect at it, and I, like most women, have a pool of rage that exists within me.

    It just sometimes makes dealing with my own anger easier.

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