Life is testing me

At least once per day, my step-son enrages me via some snide comment, or by blatantly ignoring me, or by giving me his masterful teen eye-roll, or me needing to remind him of something for the 1366732353656884252335-billionth time, or influencing my toddler to take up a bad attitude, interrupting, etc.

Yesterday, he left the dinner table a mess at his spot, a glass of milk half-empty, and the milk jug out. I pointed this out, and he said “So?” UMEXCUSEME?!!!???? And today, he kept banging the floor. After I asked him to stop, and then same snap-response. “So what?” YOUDONOTSPEAKTOMETHATWAY.

Many deep breaths were taken. Typically, this (yes, these tiny, insignificant instances) would hurtle me into a pit of anger for the rest of the day. Yes, he’s being a snotty rude teen, and that’s annoying for any rational person, but my strong emotional, deeply negative reaction is not healthy. I expressed to my husband that I am working on controlling my anger, but I can only handle so much, and would you please go talk to him to reiterate that it’s not ok to talk to people (ME!) that way. Step-son actually apologized, on his own. I had to control my anger to respond, but I did thank him for apologizing – something I would not have done before.

Life is testing me, as life is supposed to do. Stresses aren’t going to go away. People doing upsetting things is never going to go away, but I can try not to let being angry be like poo in the punch bowl.

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The big fire

One life event, more than others, was a big fire that burned me to the ground. What built around the ruins of my former self were vines of vindictive anger. They grew easily because the root system was healthy and robust beneath the flames. The fire helped fertilize the soil so when they grew, they grew fast and strong.

Everyone reacts differently with loss. First, my father, then, my first son. I was lost when dad died. We were allies. I feel he understood me better than anyone alive ever could. Partners in pain. He went through plenty of trauma in his brief 59 year stay on this planet. Losing him threw me into the wilderness. Losing my son, well, that threw me out of the stratosphere so I spun aimlessly in space – a vast unknown. Only the tethers of that angry vine brought me back to solid ground. I became mean, and delighted in it. It felt right. I was justified. Anger became firmly established as my modus operandi.

Let’s review, shall we?

  • childhood abuse
  • parental neglect
  • numerous unhealthy relationships (friendships and boyfriends. Looking at you, Tina, Chrissie, Seb and Owen)
  • dead dad
  • step-son
  • dead firstborn child

I’ve been told, and absorbed through various media, that if I were to remain angry for the rest of my life, I would be completely justified. I mean, look at my impressive list of pain! The thing is, Anger keeps me hurt, and collects hurts as I move through life. So I am never free of pain.

Pain is a difficult companion to leave behind. It wants to be the centre of attention. I want it to be present only when necessary. Anger, and pain, have made my life a struggle. I would like to enjoy my life without faking my way through. I want to genuinely enjoy my children, and not just be a madame of the rule book, an enforcer. Yes, I lost a child. That pain is part of me, but I want to reject the anger that keeps the wound fresh daily.

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Evil step-mom

We have rarely gotten along, and he has ADHD. Living with another person with a disability is a trigger. Annie needed constant reminders for proper behaviour, and so does my step-son. I get the same feelings as I had when I was small, only now, I’m the adult. I hate it, and it sometimes feels like a living nightmare.

I know I sometimes treat him badly. This has been where my anger has dictated my behaviour. My husband, my beloved, pointed out that when we first met, my anger was directed at causes – environmental, human rights, etc. Gradually, my anger turned its ugly head towards the step-child and his mother. She deserves it, but he doesn’t. At least not as often as I feel it swelling up and taking over. I embraced the evil stepmother persona as a humorous coping mechanism.

Needing help to deal with my conflicts with him is the key that opened my Pandora’s box of anger. It’s a bittersweet gift. There’s a lot of unpacking to do from the contents of this box.

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Parents

Growing up was mostly terrifying. The safest place in the world was the bathroom, locked. I sat and waited for the out-of-control freak out to move to another room or stop before I came out. After my violent, autistic sister, Annie, was no longer a threat, I carried on with my day in a stage-fright type stress, all in the gut. Hot stones churning butter that coursed through my body, tingling me all the way to my face, which, unsurprisingly, developed unvoluntary nervous tics, and gave me social embarrassment and anxiety from the fear of being noticed.

After the shock waves of Annie the Terrible subsided (and this happened almost daily), I do not remember many instances of being comforted by my parents. They may have, but I don’t remember if they did. And if they did, it was infrequent enough to be unmemorable. This has been stimulating feelings of anger in me today. I have never been angry at my parents before for the way my childhood played out. Now, I wish they did better by me because I am having a hard time being happy about going through all this shit as a 36 year-old woman. Seriously.

My parents lived a life of burnout, and my lifelong mantra has been one of understanding. No one had a choice. Annie was unpredictable in her violence, mostly targeted at me, the little sister. Our house was a battleground, and for many years, my untrained parents fought alone on the front lines. It was catastrophic for all involved. I always understood that. There has never been a time in my life where I would think any different. Until now. Now, I am pissed.

What could have helped was do something – anything – to help me feel like I am worth anyone’s time and effort. Come and spend time with me after an episode. Buy me fucking jewelry or toys. Take me out for ice cream. Bring me to the park.

Yes, they were overwhelmed, over their heads, drowning, struggling, barely hanging on, etc., BUT I WAS THERE, TOO, GODDAMNIT. I NEEDED YOU, TOO.

I knew not to make demands. Keep to myself. Don’t make things worse. Surely I didn’t always act like a princess. I was a stressed out, hyper kid to parents already stretched to chronic limits of human endurance. Yes yes yes, I always understood. Well, here is me, now, three decades later, feeling for the first time that it just wasn’t good enough. Because now I have:

Impaired sense of self
Cognitive distortions
Interpersonal problems

Thanks a bunch. Now I have to ‘heal’ some more and stop being an angry person who, in turn, makes others suffer. Wonderfulfantasticfuckyou.

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Personality cancer

I’ve been angry for a very long time, and I just learned that about myself only today. Of course it’s clear as day to the people closest to me, and I’m likely going to feel embarrassed and shame about that, but that’s all part of the fucking journey, isn’t it?

I’m a 36 year-old woman with four kids. One of them is my teenage step-son, one of them is dead, and two of them are adorably young (three years old, and seven weeks old). My anger trickles in to them, and that has to change.

I feel like my anger is a personality cancer. I’m beginning to see how it seeps into my thoughts and actions. At some point, I suppose I’ll have to make amends with people I have hurt, but thinking about that right now makes me feel like throwing up.

What is anger?

What is it? A beast that sits on my shoulders. A darkness in my gut that feeds on rage and feels happy and excited when I get furious, when I yell, when I succumb to flashes of dagger-like emotions that replace everything else that makes up me. It’s how I’ve been relating to the world. It delights in being mean and in snappy but demeaning wit. It is bravado. It hurts people and makes me not care, and sometimes even find it funny (Omg, get over it! Grow a pair! etc.).

It’s  something that needs to change. It’s something I don’t want ruling my life anymore. It’s time to see how else I can see the world. It’s time to heal.