BT – I’ll admit it’s odd – but it’s arguing. With Steve. I have a bad habit of passive aggressively storing up rage until it all pours out. I try to break it – but like all habits it’s persistent. In the middle of this particular snotty ranty outburst I realised 1)- how hard he was trying to listen to me although it was all squeaky and incomprehensible and frankly, a bit personal 2)- how lucky I was to be able to be angry like this. In previous miserable relationships I could never of cut loose like this with no fear of repercussions.
That was enough really to derail the fury train, and then the sorry’s and explaining and hugging are another step on the path to better understanding I hope.
I have a lot of rage and I’m right at the beginning of trying to find healthy ways to express and disperse it. Making bread is surprisingly successful. Not knitting though… Zeph went through a really bad time about two years ago when he would just get SO angry he couldn’t function. He got into fights at school with other children, with teachers, with us. I was pregnant with Ida and was so worried it was this big life change at the root of it. The things that made the difference were the tools we gave him to handle it and the permission to BE angry. I was unnerved by the language the school used – their angle was all about NOT being angry. How do you stop your feelings before they happen?
I felt that it was hugely important to say it was ok to be angry and to make some firm boundaries about what actions he took when he was angry. It boiled down to three basics – Do no harm to others, to yourself, or your surroundings. We practised counting, deep breathing. running a lap of the playground, using a pre arranged chill out chair, doing starjumps – all sorts. It really turned around once we took control and talked to Z and followed our own plan we’d concocted after much reading, listening and talking with each other. It literally changed overnight.
We were chatting idly about it a few weeks ago at bedtime and I asked Zeph what he remembered as helping the most. He did that silence thing for so long I wasn’t sure if he’d drifted off but he was just thinking hard and said it was when I’d said about how I felt when I was angry – he hadn’t realised other people had the same feelings – that he had thought there was something really wrong with him. It was just such a relief when we gave him permission to feel angry and shared our feeling with him. I remember describing my physical feelings, really simply – like the roiling feeling in my tummy and my face feeling hot and tight and the lump in my throat – and his joyful recognition of the symptoms and adding his own. I was so choked up I couldn’t say much and just gave him an extra huge hug before turning off the bedroom light.
Anger is part of me, without a doubt. I can’t pretend I enjoy it and I’m definitely not proud of it but to deny it endlessly is so exhausting and repressing it leads to scenes like earlier. I wonder if the people I really admire never feel anger or are so enlightened they can recognise it and deal with it early and effectively enough that it doesn’t become ugly. Like snarling up a stream with dams and blockages so the water spills over causing floods and damage or just letting it flow free.
Whoops, nature simile. Time to go to bed and my sink is shiny.