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I can’t immediately think of any instances of being hurt deeply and/or repeatedly by someone in my childhood. I’ll have to really put some thought into that for awhile. My mother passed away when I was prepubescent (12 years old), so I was raised by my father alongside my younger brother. Her death was certainly painful, but I wasn’t so much hurt BY my mother as just by grieving over the loss of her presence. I do feel some separation anxiety as a result – always trying to please everyone so that they don’t leave me. I’m told this is a result of my mother’s passing at the age that I was, but maybe it also has something to do with my anger issues? I will think long and hard about this one. Thank you for the input. 🙂
I agree – as long as I continue to harbor negative emotions, I will continue to struggle to with the concept of releasing anger. It is probably unrealistic to expect myself to be able to respond compassionately all the time overnight. I am harboring a lot of guilt about my past reactions, but I need to focus my attention on how to correct my behavior moving forward.
Baby steps. I cannot change the past, but I can change how I choose to respond in the future. I sure wish it were easier to keep calm in the thick of it. Last night’s altercation with my husband, for example: I had to work so hard just to keep my temper in check, so that I was unable to have a productive conversation. All I could do was say I was trying to avoid an argument and didn’t want to keep talking about it for fear of flying off the handle. I may have had a more positive interaction if I’d asked my husband to share with me why he was so frustrated rather than assuming I already knew?
This could not have been an easy topic to discuss. I really admire your openness and willingness to accept responsibility for your own part in this story. I hope that you find peace and are able to forgive not just your friends, but also yourself.
You’ve asked if this is his pattern, but I think it is really a pattern that he and I both exhibit. He definitely didn’t handle himself well in this example, but truth be told, the assigning of wrong motives and pointing the finger of blame is more often my behavior than his.
I also find it interesting that you picked up on the inappropriateness of my apology. He said something along that same line last night. Something to the effect of “You can’t apologize to me for my actions. That doesn’t even make sense.” I knew he was frustrated that he’d been keeping the son on task with the project aaaaaaaaall day, and I also knew he was feeling guilty himself about not making the project a priority and allowing the son to procrastinate. My intent was to not take the lashing out personally and help diffuse the situation, and I’d thought the apology would show my understanding of his feelings. Clearly he didn’t take it that way, but I don’t know how else I should have responded. Although we generally have a strong relationship – a partnership, really – there is indeed an underlying problem that leads to our bickering. My anger issues have caused a rift between our household and his parents and sister.
There’s so much history there; probably too much to deal with in a forum. Let me try another example.
My youngest son was developing a friendship with another kid, and they’d had a couple of sleepovers both at our house as well as at the other boy’s house. The child’s mother was an active volunteer in their previous elementary school, so we ran into her on a routine basis. The boys graduated to middle school, and they both participated in music class together. At some point in the school year, my son confided something deeply personal to his friend, and the kid violated my son’s confidence and blabbed to other kids and made my son feel embarrassed. That schoolyard tiff petered out after a while, and my son moved on.
At the start of the following school year, we ran into the kid’s mom and she walked up to us and asked my son how he was doing and whether or not he was still in gifted classes and what period he was in music class and other seemingly innocuous questions. And, throughout the next few months, whenever we saw her in the hallway at school functions, she would loudly proclaim “Hi Mom!”. This really riled me up, because I felt that she was saying it that way because she couldn’t even remember my name, which was unacceptable to me since the boys had been friendly and had sleepovers at our houses.
Later, his music teacher let slip that he wanted to put our son in an earlier class where the instrument he plays would be more useful, but he couldn’t because another student’s mother had demanded that the boys be in different classes. The teacher also let slip that it was this particular kid’s mom. While I didn’t let on how angry that made me, I DID let that stew in my mind for another few months.
Fast forward to his most recent recital. I was sitting in the auditorium waiting for the show to begin and this kid’s mom coincidentally sat next to me. She then looked at me and said “You’re so-and-so’s mom, right?” I said yes and we went back to looking at our phones. But, it irked me so bad that she’d had the audacity to sit right next to me that I said (name changed) “Cynthia? Do you even remember my name?” She looked at me sheepishly and admitted that she could not. At that point, I became venomous. I told her that I didn’t appreciate her calling me Mom in the hall everytime she saw me, and that if she thought well enough to let her kid stay at my house, she could at least remember my name. I also told her I knew that she’d requested her boy be in a different class than my son, and suggested that maybe she should talk to her son about HIS behavior rather than worrying so much about my kid and what classes he was in. I then proceeded to tell her that she did not have permission to speak to my kid and, well, basically I was just really, really nasty to her.
Very immature behavior on my part.
Why did I let it stew rather than let it go? Why didn’t I try to have a rational conversation with her, when all the time I was accusing HER of being irrational? If my son had moved on, why couldn’t I? Nothing was accomplished with my outburst other than making her feel very uncomfortable, and now I am the one embarrassed about how poorly I handled the situation.
Gosh, every time I try to put an example into words, I feel embarrassed at my past behavior. Feeling a little vulnerable here, online, amongst strangers.
Maybe I’ll start with an example of one where I DIDN’T turn into a beast, but was tempted. So, last night, my husband was working with our youngest son on a project for school. Son had procrastinated, and the project was due in school today. Husband was also trying to cook dinner and I was cleaning the carpets upstairs. As I passed through the living room where son was working, he mentioned needing to spruce up his display. I offered a box of craft supplies to inspire him, and that sent my husband into a tizzy. He was stressed about trying to make sure the project was completed before bedtime, and believed I was complicating the matter, and he was fussing at me about it.
I wanted to argue with him. I wanted to justify how I was HELPING HIM. I wanted to correct him. I took the craft supplies back and retired upstairs. After a while, he came upstairs to discuss the matter. I tried very, very hard to not escalate matters. Instead of calling him out for lashing out at me, I apologized for what he perceived as trying to take over the situation, and I told him that when he speaks to me the way he did, it made me feel like I was a hindrance.
I expected him to agree with me and apologize, but nooooooo. He told me he was glad I picked up on that, because I was being a hindrance at that time. And that made my blood immediately boil. I told him that I was fighting off my temper, and I didn’t want to argue. He was annoyed that I didn’t want to talk, but I was worried that if I continued the conversation, it would escalate.
I would like to get to the point where my blood doesn’t boil. I would like to feel so sincerely concerned about someone else’s perspective that when they lash out I don’t take it personally. But, in trying as hard as I do, it seems obvious to others that I’m having to try. Almost like I’m insincere. And, that likely incites the other person to respond to my anger, which in turn escalates things further.
This is one minor encounter that doesn’t even begin to explain how much of a problem my anger is for me. 🙁
Well, that’s an interesting idea. Slight away…