Wednesday, October 24, 2012

On Anger

I've never seen myself as an angry person.  In fact, I thought of myself as the opposite -- even keeled, controlled, cool headed.  I don't know if it's still the hormones or this role of being a parent, but I find myself on the edge of anger more often than I had ever been before.  The kind of anger where I clench my teeth and claw my hands.  Where I contain the urge to bash my fist into the wall.

The odd thing is I don't know where it comes from -- this anger.  Stupid little things set it off.  Seeing a stray piece of the dog's fur on my baby's mouth.  Coming back to the car and finding the adjacent car parked so closely that I can't fit in my baby's car seat.  Discovering that my three year old had again rolled and run around in his poopy diaper, so much so that the poop had oozed through the elastic and caked around his little thighs.

In those moments, I literally seethe.  Throw my arms in the air.  And clench my fist.  And release a little Argh.  Or even a God damn it!  Even in front of my three year old who is sure to repeat it with his next breath.

It is easy to forget the anger.  To pretend it hadn't overcome me as it had.  To find my voice of reason and later retell the event to a friend or to Jeff as if it were some humorous or notable episode.  To see it as just a fleeting scene that leaves no mark.

But it isn't quite so easy.  The other day, I saw my three year old -- after I had refused his request for some sugary snack -- throw his hands up in the air, as I sometimes have, and scream out Argh!  They are little video cameras, these little people.  But it's not only their witnessing.  It is also that they can sometimes be the object of my anger.  When I berate a three year old for again failing to announce that he had pooped, how does that information process in his brain?  In my reasonable brain, I know that he is three.  But in my anger, I rail about the conversation we previously had -- about how he should poop in the potty, how he should tell me when he poops, how he should know better -- expecting him to know better than a three year old could.

Everyone experiences anger, I know that.  And it can be a useful emotion -- one that alerts you and others of the gravity of the situation at hand, one that signals that you mean business.  An emotion that can be a crutch for when other emotions seem overpowering.  But what worries me is that my anger arises over such trivial matters.  That my emotions seem out of proportion to the situation at hand.  And it makes me suspect that the anger arises from something other than the immediate situation.  I'm sure if I read some books on the subject, I could educate myself on this subject.  (And if anyone has any recommendations, I'd love to read some.)

It makes me wonder what junk resides in the well of my mind that it should so overpower me.  I've been thinking for a few days that I should just write about every past incident that made me angry -- I mean, really angry -- or upset in the past.  Maybe that's one way to exorcise some of these demons.  I've heard that re-living an emotionally gripping episode from one's past can often take away the power of those events.  So I'm going to try to do that -- find some time to write about those unhappy incidents in my past.  If this blog seems skewed in portraying an angry Asian girl, that's what's going on.


  1. S- I'm so sorry to read this. I've been there, and I know it's a really awful way to feel. Have you considered spending a few sessions with a therapist to work through things and maybe identify some of the roots of your anger? It might be really helpful. I wish you the best and hope things look brighter (and less aggravating) very soon.

  2. Try talking to your ob/gyn. I was experiencing a lot of anger as well, and had (I thought) unrelated symptoms. After talking to my ob/gyn, it turns out I was going through hormones were out of control. I'm on low-dose birth control pills & things are sooo much better. Even though, I'm supposedly a decade too young to start the process, which is why I didn't even consider it. After talking with friends, it seems like many people that are 'too young' are also starting to go through it, too.

  3. A great book, The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner.
    My anger towards my son's stubbornness and oppositional behavior throughout his growing up years did a lot of damage to him, his older brother, their father and myself. I can never forgive myself for the damage I unwittenly caused. You are so much smarter and aware than I was and I'm so happy that your children will benefit from that. I'm proud of you.

  4. Spend too much time alone with kids and they start to seem like adults. You lose perspective. I have a friend who says that taking time away from her kids has made her a better parent. And it's true. The few times I've had apart from my daughter has given me the distance I needed to see her more clearly and to appreciate her. And, honestly, it's helped her appreciate me, which is just as important given that she has a deep belief that I am her personal maid. She loves me, but what she really wants is for me to get her a second serving of ice cream. There are times when just the sight of a dirty plate she's left on the coffee table makes me want to scream and cry. I plan to take a vacation without my child 3-4 times per year.