I never get as angry at anyone as I do at my kid. At times, it grows and intensifies into rage. It seems not only to fill me, but to radiate waves of heat beyond me. Even restraining the wounding words and actions that boil inside, I feel the energy alone capable of scorching.
Anger feels at best uncomfortable, and at times scary. It feels unsettling even to talk about.
As a kid, I witnessed anger that was deeply alarming. It's profoundly important to me not to visit that on my child. And yet I do. I get angry. I yell. I say hurtful things. I can see myself hurt her feelings and at times even scare her.
But in the last few years I've walked toward a new experience of anger. I have become and am becoming more responsible, less scary, less hurtful.
My starting place was a commitment to accepting and valuing anger.
As the poet Rumi suggests, it is our work to be a good host to whatever emotion arrives at our door. I believe that means welcoming, even inviting anger.
Anger is a signal of our boundaries, our limits, our hurts. It shows us who we want to be, and where we fall short. I have not eradicated my anger. I don't think it's possible, and I wouldn't want to. I do want not to feel controlled by it, overtaken by it. Above all, I want not to visit harm on my child because of it.
I once talked to dear friends about feeling rage toward my child. I have some understanding of the moms who grievously harm their children, women who are less supported, have fewer options and fewer inner resources, I said. There are lines I, like most mothers, will never cross, but sometimes we can see those lines from where we're standing. One friend answered my confession by saying that she'd never felt that angry with her children. Bless her, but I think most parents have experienced fury. We don't talk about it because we're ashamed. We think we're the only ones. We're not. You're not. You're not alone.
Talking about anger with other parents who can hear you without judgment, without advice or criticism, and who believe in you is a powerful step toward being a good host to anger. I invite you to find out. Reach out to someone trustworthy to talk about feeling angry. I think you might hear, "Me, too."