Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Anger



The noise. The third football game of the  day. Screaming children. Making dinner.

Finally, the last straw. I was missing a necessary item for the meal.

I couldn't take it anymore. I slammed the door and headed out for some "alone" time. I went less than a mile down the street and picked up some items from the store. Words were flying through my head. Accusations (how could he?), selfishness (He never ...), and self-pity (I always ...) swarmed together to fuel my anger.

After stomping around the aisles, aimlessly wondering while screaming unutterables in my head, the fog dissipated. I remembered Mr. B's face as I raised my voice. I remembered the pain as I stormed out of the house. I remembered that I had promised I would not do that.

Therapists ask for emotions. They want you to dig deep inside yourself to define exactly what you are feeling. They seek precision in language.

Anger is not considered precise. It is the shallow side next to the deep end. It masks true emotions.

What was I feeling that night? Anger?

Deeper.

Frustration?

Deeper.

Hurt?

Deeper.

Fear.

Yes. That is it. I was afraid of what I might do. Of what our family was becoming. Of the constant noise. I needed silence. I craved a night without the interruption of a touchdown. A moment to meditate, together, about the day. Time to enjoy our children together.

I was alone. I wanted one thing, you another. We needed to come to a compromise. We couldn't, though. I was too busy allowing fear to veil my real feelings. I would not talk to you. I could not talk to you. The words were lost inside my head. The sentences were not forming together, their meanings were vague, and I could not properly define what was wrong.

That night is rare. After wonderful counseling at the beginning of this last pregnancy, Mr. B and I have had an easier time communicating. It happened during one session. We had fought prior to the appointment.The tension was palpable. It clouded the otherwise clear room, making normal communication nearly impossible. Our dearest counselor asked us to describe what we were experiencing.

Mr. B: I am in an empty room. I see you crying. I want to help you. I reach out. You turn away. You build a wall and I cannot enter. 

Yes, I do build walls. I am much better now than I was before. I still have much to work on. Still, hurting Mr B because of my weakness? Because I can't let him in?

Me: I am in a corner. Enemies are surrounding me. I am naked. I yield a small shield. It protects me from the danger. If I put it down, I will be left defenseless. I can't. I can't.

If I let down my guard, I put myself in the position to endure more pain. It is difficult. It is necessary.

Slowly, we have put together our relationship. We have healed from the pain we inflicted upon each other. You help more. I talk more.

But, we still have those nights. Days, even. Times when we return to how it used to be. Times like that night I described. When I run away. When you reach out, and I build the wall.

I finally returned from the store. I went into your arms and apologized. We talked. We came together. We started over.

Anger. Real? Imaginary? Covering a deeper emotion? What do you think?

18 comments:

  1. Funny, I was just talking about this very thing with a good friend. She's writing a book about new motherhood, and I told her that the one thing nobody ever told me to expect was the complete RAGE I would sometimes feel towards my husband.Sleep deprivation+stress/demands of new baby+demands of other family members+daily chores=RAGE.I scared myself sometimes.

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  2. You sound like you've come a long way.Anger is a very real emotion. I don't know if it's necessarily always covering another emotion or if it's just important that we're able to see why we're angry.

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  3. Such an interesting question. I'm with Kitch in being surprised by how much anger I felt - toward Husband and in general - after Big Boy was born. Especially in the months after having a baby, I think there is a physical and psychological bent toward anger. You're wise to figure out if yours is just anger or if it's a symptom of a deeper problem.

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  4. Wow. Such a powerful post. Good for you - digging deep to name the demons. Once you name them they lose power over you. Just wow.

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  5. Oh honey, you have no idea how this post resonates with me. I have been there (still visit occasionally but not often) and it is such a dark, confused place to be. I love that you're writing about it and finding the source, the deep down source of it all. Took me YEARS of anger to get to where you are right now. You can conquer this - you ARE conquering this and I'm just sitting her smiling and in awe over your strength.

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  6. You wrote this beautifully. And boy is TKW right, but I'll tweak it further - sleep deprivation + stress + no one to help = rage.This kind of anger is understandable and not unusual and sometimes as simple as the fact that he gets to be away from what you are dealing with all. the. time. It sucks.But it sounds like you manage it most of the time like a champ. I'd say you're to be patted on the back for that.But talk is the key. You lowering the wall enough to get the right words out. And if the emotion is in the way - write the words. And add the love. Sounds like your man will get it, and maybe do a little more to give you that bit of a break that you've got to have. We've all been there.

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  7. I'd have to really sit and think about whether my anger (that I too often feel) is masking another emotion. Frustration, resentment, confusion... I don't know but what a powerful question. I build up walls a lot too. Sadly, I sometimes don't find it worth it to say what's in my heart. Too much explanation. I get defensive. I feel no one will really understand. I feel insecure. I'm working through it... this post will help.

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  8. The counseling my husband and I received in our first five years of marriage I credit for the other 12 (so far). I remember a car ride where I thought it was over. And what was funny is how simple the fix was. We sat down and somehow with another person in the room we could suddenly hear each other and listen to each other and stop doing the thing that stood between us like, yes, a wall.Thanks for your post, Ambrosia.

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  9. Your words and your actions are good and true. You need to be with each other but there are times when it is best if you think through things first. Try not to run, although I believe I read somewhere (BLW maybe?) that running from one thing is also running to another. Let Mr B know when you need to think about words, sentences, when you need the quiet.

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  10. I'll have to take a closer look the next time I get extremely angry. (Although introspection is not really something I do a lot of when I'm mad). Sometimes I think it is masking other things and other times it is just a result of a rather stressful life. Sometimes yelling into a pillow, throwing a cup into the sink, or slamming a door helps me feel better and be better able to deal with life again.

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  11. TKW: I think you have described early motherhood so well.Shell: Our marriage has always (and I mean this) been wonderful. We have had our ups and downs. Our worst time happened when we were both in school and had a new baby. I freaked out a lot. My poor husband. He loves me, still. I am lucky to have him.I agree, anger is a real emotion. I guess the question has turned into a chicken and egg-type. Which came first? Anger or hurt?Kim: I have had years of anger. My teenage years were atrocious. I am ashamed to look back and realize how I rarely smiled. When I came to BYU, though, that changed. I decided I was not going to let anger get the best of me.Thus, when I have felt those feelings return lately? I have almost returned to the teenager I used to be. It almost knocked me down. But, I have a wonderful, amazing husband who boosts me up. He knows I can be better. He helps me be better.Becca: I am sure there are times where your anger, like mine, flares up for an instant and suddenly disappears. I would imagine these "flares" are less likely to hold deeper meaning. However, if the anger continues to build, and grow, then it begs answers.I understand your walls. Many times, I cannot explain why I am angry. I cannot say what is in my heart. I am too scared. Oh, but Becca, it is so worth saying what is in your heart. Something that I will always remember from our therapy sessions was the importance of sharing. It is scary. You are giving away a piece of yourself and facing the possibility of rejection.I hope this post does help. I know it was therapeutic to write out what I have been experiencing lately.

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  12. Charlotte, you make me laugh. I agree, there are those flashes of anger that instantly arise and instantly disappear. Those probably do not hold a deeper meaning.I think the real message our counselor was conveying was the need to stop and think. This will, hopefully, assuage the anger and, thereby, help communication to move forward.I often throw things into sinks. I try not to include breakables in this category, but, well if it happens then so be it. : )

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  13. Jane: I did overcome the demons through this post. Thank goodness.Wolf: probably the heart of this issue is feeling so alone. Part of my new schedule for this new year is giving myself the alone time I need. I have to get up early for it, but I think it is necessary.My husband is supportive. He would sacrifice anything he could to ensure my well-being. However, he must be allowed the time to spend on his studies. His schooling is our future.For me, I am learning to balance his school needs with my emotional needs. Some days I do excellently, other days, I fail. I continue to learn. And write. Yes, writing helps me find my voice.Linda: I am a therapy advocate. Heck, if, I mean when I go back to school it will be for a masters in therapy. The benefits of a therapy session is the other person. It is so much easier to stop focusing on you, you, you and begin actually hearing what your partner is telling you. I know that worked for us, and still works for us.Thank you for sharing your experiences. It will surely help those who need it.Nicki: Yes, running from one things is running to another. If I continue to run, I will inevitably fall flat on my face and realize I have torn apart a good thing. I am learning to let my husband know when I need my alone time.

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  14. Kristen: The question is still unanswered, in my mind. I think anger can be a real and necessary emotion. I think about the account of Jesus and cleaning out the temple. However, his was more righteous indignation. So, maybe anger is a sign of me losing control? Yes, probably.As you can tell, I am thinking out loud. It is often messy and unclear.

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  15. Wow, very powerful. You mean I'm not the only one that does not have a perfect marriage? I loved this, really, totally discibes me, I build walls,too. I need counseling...P.S. Thanks for visiting my blog!

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  16. Steph @ Diapers andJanuary 9, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    Your analysis of anger seems spot on. I always joke that the underlying emotion is "you're going to make me go crazy. I really might lose my mind." Not sure exactly what to call that. I experience it way more with my children than with my husband, but we all take turns. :)

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  17. I'm a football widow too. I hate it. By the end of the season I am feeling especially ignored. Being ignored makes me angry. I hear you.

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  18. I love how you have expressed the raw emotions that you and Mr. B have felt. Anger is definitely a facade for something deeper. Unfortunately it can be blinding.

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