I took a quick poll on Facebook the other morning because I didn’t know what to write about. The choices were:
1. Dog Surfing Competition in Huntington Beach
2. Holiday Illos on sale! (I need to pay my bills!! The usual monthly stress)
3. A photo essay on my new hardback books
4. My journey with anger management
I should have just written the Dog Surfing post because that would have been easy or knocked out the anger post because it was forefront in my mind but no, I sat on it like I always do and now I don’t know if I’ll ever write anything ever again. Blarg-en-FARG!!!
Just kidding. But seriously, why did I promise an anger post? Of course everyone wants to hear about my struggle with anger. Dirt is way more interesting than dogs on surf boards.
But you know what? I think it’s just pms.
Joke on me!!!
Nobody believes me when I say I have anger issues but that’s because I hide it. And that’s what scares me. I read somewhere in a self-help book about abuse that if the person hides their behavior from outsiders then that’s a warning flag. I didn’t really read the rest of the book so I can’t carry on like I’m an expert but of course I worry. I’m very good at worrying. My mind has been a hamster cage of worry for the last three years, scratch that, make that 41 years.
I was texting a good friend about my horrible, no good, very bad day (which totally wore my thumbs out by the way) and she said she remembered me losing it back when we were in college and I better get a handle on it before my kid becomes a teenager with crazy hormones of her own. (Yikes!) She was recommending falling back on medication but her affirmation that I do have a problem hit me like a ton of bricks. I do have a problem.
Last Saturday I was so mad at Bug because we were late. Fifty-seven naggings later and she wanted me to find this one very important hedgehog-printed coin purse. Why, I don’t’ know. Because she’s Bug and she gets a vision of how things are going to be and then falls to pieces if they don’t go as planned.
Kinda like her mom.
She didn’t care that if we didn’t leave right this very minute we would miss the big dog division and the little dog division and be stuck paying premium parking only to see a bunch of vendor tents handing out Eucanuba dog tags and tiny cups of dog ice cream. I was livid. Really? We’re going to miss the whole entire show because you need a hedgehog purse?
So I did the stupidest thing ever: I dumped out all her toys to look for the purse. Then I dumped out her dress-up clothes too to make a point. Even when I was doing it I knew it was insane. I knew I was the scary mom. I saw it in her eyes and even though it broke my heart, I couldn’t stop the raging. It was terrible. I knew I was losing it and yet I felt like I couldn’t stop. I did stop and I did try to be calm but then the sarcasm and guilt trips would set in and they are even worse than the dumping.
I remember my aunts pulling guilt trips on me and they messed with my head so hard I still hear their voices in my head twenty years later. Not that it ruined me or anything but I so badly don’t want to be that person.
And here is where I want to say how much I love my aunts. And I’m not just saying that because they are reading. They raised me right along with my mom. It took a village. Their words formed me. In some bad ways but probably in more good ways so I don’t want to paint a picture like I was abused. It’s not black and white.
But I am that person. I have a raging hot temper. It runs in my family. I hold out a very long time but when I’m pushed, I lose it. I lose it big. The good news is I get over it pretty quickly. I apologize and I forgive. I go to bed and I wake up an entirely different person. I always feel calm after the storm. But that doesn’t make it any less scary to those around me when it’s all going down.
I knew I was going to rage all day so instead of spending the rest of the day picking up the toys (which probably would have been a great lesson if I could be the calm mom and not the raging mom) and we went to the dog show anyway. We were totally late and only saw the small dog division but it was fine. I went with a friend and she insisted that I calm the f— down. It was going to be okay.
We parked in metered parking and we only had so many quarters. I set a timer on my phone and it went off entirely too soon. I stressed. She said, just let it go. We’ll pay the ticket if we get one. This was really hard for me to do but I stayed. I took pictures of dogs on surfboards and my kid frolicked in the surf with her friend.
So there’s that. My kid had a good time. She forgot about the dumped toys and the trashed house that we had to go home to. She didn’t even really mind all that much when we did go home and we cleaned it up together. I let her go to the pool with a friend and I spent the rest of my day cleaning everything from top to bottom and getting ready for the rest of the week. I felt better.
But I do need to handle my anger issues. When I said I’m on a journey I meant I’m at the beginning. I don’t’ have any words of wisdom yet because I haven’t learned much yet. But I really really really want to work on this. I know it’s worse right now because of hormones and financial stress but this is something I was born with and I want to learn how to manage it. I want to learn how to NOT react when things set me off.
I don’t really want to go the medication route. I know it’s there and I’m not saying I won’t ever go on medication to moderate things. But if I can do this with a healthy diet and breathing techniques, I’d really rather do that. Maybe I’ll take up yoga again or start training for a marathon. I just need to do something. I need to get ready for when the next wave hits.
I know there are readers out there who suffer from this too. Who knows, maybe it’s just part of parenting a small person who can push you to the edge and then over it and around the block. Some of us channel our stress into illnesses, some into depression or insomnia, some of us have rage issues. Some of us have all of the above. If you have rage like me how do you handle it? Have you gotten better over time?
I also want to say that the flip side of my anger is that I’m a passionate person for good things too. I feel things deeply. I have incredible energy and enthusiasm when I need it. I’m usually a very happy person. Maybe even annoyingly so. But when my positive energy goes bad, it turns into anger and it can be scary.
Even to me. Especially to me…
So who’s ready for a surfing dog post tomorrow?!!