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Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Truth About Anger or Angela's Been Reading Too Many Self-Help Books Again or #FREEDOM




My teapot says 'Come let us have tea about talk about happy things.'

But instead, I'd like to talk about anger. No, wait, don't go, this is worth it I promise.

Even the word is loaded with attached feelings, thoughts, and emotions isn’t it? 

There isn’t a ‘neutral’ thing about this word. Did you think of the last time you were angry? With your kids? With your spouse? The last time you argued with someone you loved? When someone cut you off in traffic?

I’ve been rolling with a lot of anger in my life lately. My own, and my four-going-on-fourteen year old as well as my almost two year old son. We’ve all been feeling really angry. But I’ll get back to that.

We’ve been happy, too, of course. We’re not stomping around in matching Yeh Family Grumps hoodies and combat boots or anything. We made it to the Hocus Pocus symphony at the Mitchell Woods Pavilion Friday night, did a candy crawl on Saturday, and enjoyed the day together today. We did the usual things this week; parks, groceries, lunch, making home-made soup from leftovers from the Colossal Canadian Thanksgiving turkey last weekend.

We managed a whole foods trip, gymnastics class, soccer, and school on Wednesday. 

We also managed multiple throw-down tantrums from Benji and multiple lashing-out episodes from Ellie too, usually around the same time.

ME: “You can’t hit your brother, go to your room. Now. Time out. 3 minutes.
Ellie: “No.”
ME: (sputtering incoherently, thinking CRAP she called my bluff! Now what do I do!?)

My solution for now is to add a minute for every time i tell her to go and she doesn’t. She got up to 10 minutes the other day and I realized I need a better solution. Anyone have any ideas let me know…

I talked about Benji’s tantrums last week. Boy does not like to be told no. And if you have him out past nap-time AND need to convince him to get into his car seat, the rage that ensues would alarm and mystify you. 

It’s hard to know what to do. It’s hard to remember anger isn’t a bad thing. For me, feeling that anger and not knowing how to deal with it is a scary thing. Scary for him, scary for me, scary for anyone within a five-mile radius of his screaming.

Anger is the hardest emotion for me to process. When someone around me is angry I freeze. I go into survival mode. What do they need? What do they want? How can I make this go away as quickly as possible? What did I do wrong? What can I do better next time? Manage, soothe, de-escalate, then expend lots of mental and emotional energy toward prevention of future anger episodes. Sounds reasonable right?

Except it isn’t.

Maybe it’s my age, or maybe it’s Benji that’s forced me to realize my emotional blindspot when it comes to anger. Seeing it, experiencing it, watching someone I love rumble with it, I think there isn’t anything I CAN do. Really. There are a lot of excuses for Benji - (he’s tired, he’s hungry, he’s hot, he’s two…) and none of them have anything to do with me or my behavior. 

Calming down is up to him, too. I can turn out the lights, put him in his room away from sharp objects. I can put on lavender oil and soothing ocean sounds. I can speak in calm, low tones. I can pray. I can sing to him. I can just sit and be there with him through it. I can do lots of things that will help him calm down and center himself but ultimately, he has to manage his own anger himself. I can’t do that for him. He has to experience it, try to process it, and choose to let it go or hold onto it longer, himself.

And he does. It doesn’t last forever. And he lets me pick him up and cuddle him, and wipe away his tears and get him some cold water and off he goes.

And none of it has anything to do with me personally. I’m not the cause of the tantrum, and I’m not in control of when it stops. He is. And he’s TWO.

Because it has nothing to do with age. It is because someone else’s actions and emotions are their responsibility, and theirs alone.

What would you do if you knew that, really knew that? #Freedom?