Important Disclaimer

Since I currently have several employers/supervisors/churches/etc., please know that none of the words on my blog represent them or their beliefs. This blog is my own creation.

It also does not represent my children's perspective, nor my mother's; they think I am funny, but misguided.
(Quick update: only my mother thinks I'm funny now.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Intimate Violence: An Old Sponge

I am struggling to write tonight. I am raising one child who has been angry at the world since birth, and I have never dealt well with other people's anger. Anger frightens me, and I can smell it the second I walk in a room. I can see it in the clenching of a jaw, the way a body moves, and in terse words bitten off.

Once a friend was angry with me and started yelling. I found myself backed into a corner, crouching. It was an automatic reaction, totally out of proportion with the situation. I remember when I was married that my anger expressed itself in short, tight, mocking phrases. The kind of anger that can slash to the bone with words, but the neighbors won't hear it.

Last week I was at the bus stop, and I saw a couple walking together. The woman was waving her hands in the air, while the man was yelling at the top of his lungs. "You keep walking!" he screamed. "Keep walking, I said! I'm gonna sit right here. I'm sick of your %$#$!! All you do is argue. You keep walking!" The woman stopped and looked at him hard. And then she said, "But you have my bag!" When the bus pulled up a few minutes later the man was still cussing the air blue, and the woman was still standing nearby waiting for his rage to cool.

People work in different ways, but when my children tantrum, it's all I can do to hold it together, to keep from crouching in a corner. It's all I can do to remember that they are small yet, and that I am grown. Sometimes I go outside with them, because outside they shrink to their true size under the sky.

I am so uneasy around anger. I feel sometimes like an old sponge that can't hold any more water. There's just no more room for any more anger and rage in my life, and sometimes no room to get away from it. And so it is difficult to write tonight, because I have weathered yet another blustery day in my household.


  1. A saturated old sponge is a great analogy. I know that feeling all too well. Dealing with anger--and especially rage--is difficult, whether from inside of it or outside.

    For me, anger also gets jumbled up with hatred, occasionally, even though I understand that hatred is a different emotion than anger or rage. When you are on the receiving end, however, it can be difficult to tell them apart, particularly when that anger is expressed in unhealthy (i.e. violent) ways.

    What do we do with the fact that it's possible to become extremely angry--even enraged or furious--with someone whom we love... or that someone who genuinely loves us can become enraged with us?

    Part of me doesn't even believe that's possible. How can love and rage cohabitate? Yet, if they cannot, where does that leave us? I can chase my tail for a long time when I ponder this topic.

    I'm sorry it has been a rough night, Katie. I hope tomorrow is brighter for you and for your son.

  2. I grew up with an Italian mom, who showed both her love and her anger with great passion and emotion (and volume), and an English dad, who was as mild mannered and gentle as any human being I've ever met. I recall my mom talking to me once about how passion can express itself in both love and anger, and about the time she and her first husband (she was a young widow before she married my dad) had a fight in their small apartment in Brooklyn and were throwing plates at each other and at the wall. I remembered that story the day I jumped out of the car at home during a heated argument with my husband and punched out the car door before I stormed inside (yes, left a big dent). I have always felt the greatest anger with / for the people I love and care about the most, so I think they do coexist in that place of extreme strong feeling - passion is probably a good word for it. [Come to think of it, our wild cat is a good representation of this...]

    My prayer is that you and your son may find some dance, some routine that works to calm or contain the anger when it rises up, enough so that the next step of communication has a chance of happening. If he can learn to do that with you, over time, it will be invaluable to him with the rest of the world, where the anger seems sometimes to be limitless.

  3. Yeah, anger. I have learned to work through it with my mom, but my dad is just a closet angry person. His bitterness comes out in the strangest places, and the bitterness can be about things that I thought he was cool about based on conversations we had had. Families are just weird organisms.

    Sending you some cupcakes.

  4. I have an angry son and I was an angry child myself. Who knows why because we have both have had good childhoods. You can trust me when I say that when he is yelling mean things to you, a voice inside of him is saying "Why am I saying these terrible things to my Mother?!" But he can't stop. He has to learn how to control himself. My mother taught me that I must stay calm. Responding in anger or fear to your raging child doesn't work. You have to get this now because they won't always be small. My son is bigger than I am. What has worked best is for me to stay calm and rational (It is VERY HARD) until he is done raging and then we can talk reasonably. The parent still has the power dynamic going, don't forget that, he can't "win." Usually with us it's because I have taken his computer away. (You cannot play WoW for 3.5 hours every school night, that is too much). I stress to him that we can yell and scream at home but not out in public. He will get in trouble at school for yelling in frustration. I have been criticized for letting my son talk to me "like that." But you know what? It's better than him not talking to me at all. My son is 17 and I think we're both going to make it to his adulthood. It gets better, it really does.


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