If we met on the street, you’d probably think I was sweet. And I certainly can be. You might tune into my podcast and get the impression that I’m bubbly and fun…but I’m certainly not that way all the time. There’s another, really ugly side to me that reared its ugly head this weekend and frankly scared the hell outta me and my kids.
It all started Friday night. I was beat by a long week but so looking forward to a leisurely night in with my husband and littles with the older kids gone for the weekend. But within minutes of walking through the door, my husband announced he wanted to leave to play games with his friends. Now, he was gone the night before and he made plans to go out the following night, too. So my heart sunk. And instead of being honest with him about my feelings, I seethed inside and sighed, “Whatever...just go and put on a movie for the kids.” I walked upstairs, secretly hoping he’d follow me and say, “I changed my mind! I’d rather be with YOU!” But he didn’t. His car careened out of the driveway and when it did, I lost my cool. I screamed. I dialed his cell number fanatically. When he didn’t pick up, I called a friend to find him and send him home. I slammed the front door and paced up and down the street in anger, scaring my two little kids who were inside. My husband came home fifteen minutes later after realizing his mistake…but by then, I was a wreck. Undone. I let the verbal venom fly. And that’s not all. I threw my cell phone at the wall. Twice. Well, okay, I was kinda hoping in the back of my mind that I could break my Android phone so I could trade up for an iPhone…but still…it scared my kids. And that’s totally not okay.
It’s like I was in a trance and I couldn’t snap out of it…until I saw the crushed expression on my sweet son’s face. He was in hysterics and called out, “MOMMY, STOP!” I took a break and went upstairs. I felt like the worst mom in the world. Did I have good reason to be angry at my husband? Maybe. But was it cool that I unleashed it the way I did in front of my kids? NO. Never. It was a total over-reaction to a simple mistake in which I felt diminished. But in the process of making my hurt known loud and clear, it diminished my children. And I’m having a hard time forgiving myself for that.
In fact, I haven’t been able to shake this awful feeling all weekend that I have an anger management problem and I need to get help or else my kids will be traumatized for life. I sat my son down and apologized over and over for hurting his heart. I promised to work on my temper so I didn’t crush his spirit like that again. I think it’s normal to feel hurt, frustrated and upset. But at times I go from zero to ten in a matter of seconds…and no one’s spared in the path of that tornado. Over the years I felt like I was getting better at giving myself a time out and responding in a relatively calm fashion to stress triggers…but sometimes, I feel like my temper can’t be tamed in the heat of the moment…especially when I’m tired, worn and feel taken for granted.
Mid-afternoon on Sunday, my husband sat me down, cupped my hands in his and said, “Listen, I’m sorry for the role I played in our conflict this weekend…but you really need to work on your temper.” So…it’s something I definitely realize I need to work on…but how should I go about it? I’ve had this problem ever since I was a kid. I remember my parents’ fights being volatile…and I remember getting so angry when I was a kid once that I smashed my parents’ new glass oven and shards flew all over my brother’s birthday cake. He’s never let me forget that. He even bought me an “Anger Management” t-shirt when we took a family trip to Disneyland in ’08. This is a vicious cycle that’s ingrained in my being. Reversing it is gonna take a lot of work…and I want to do the work because my family is worth it.
What resource have you found to be helpful if you or a family member has had this issue?