I still get angry

Q: What is the easiest, fastest way to make something change?
A: Blog about it.

When I wrote the babble piece about my decision to take anti-depressants last winter, I was still working on accepting this dark part of me. I was also feeling just a tad bit high from feeling better, especially the change in my ability to tolerate the type of frustration that is an inevitable part of parenting. My longer fuse was the best, most high-inducing result of my medication.

I have come down just a bit now.

I still feel like the medication I take has helped me immensely. I believe it is a huge part of why my life, my marriage, my parenting and my psyche are so much better today than this time last year. Pr0zac brought my mood up enough that the community building, self care and therapy I've been working so hard on actually made a difference. But sure enough, as soon as I blogged about it, extra-publicly, a harsh reality set in: I still get angry and I still don't know how to deal with it.

Being home with the girls this summer was not easy for me. Their intense interactions, while often heartbreakingly loving and sweet, are just as often loud and combative. My days are filled with high drama, even higher decibel levels, and constant mediation. This week has its own challenges: CG's away and Z started full day school, with our usual collective issues in transitioning.

In the past few weeks, I've found myself gritting my teeth again, yelling when I should have walked away, apologizing later. It was a particularly ironic time to also fielding comments on a public piece about Feeling Better. There have been moments I felt like a fraud.

On the whole, I am feeling so much better. On the whole, I am happier, more patient on this medication.

And I am still a deeply imperfect person. I still get frustrated and angry with my children and medication has softened that but can't fundamentally change that.

When talking to my mom last night, I lamented a scene earlier in the day, when the girls repeatedly interrupted a phone conversation I was having and then followed me while I tried to get away from them to calm myself down. "But I was yelling and stomping around and felt so angry and out of control," I said to her.

"That's what anger looks like," she said kindly. "It's okay to get angry."

I know it's okay to get angry - theoretically. I know it's supposed to be healthy to let it out. But I hate the way it feels: the muscular tension, the burning desire to destroy something, the momentary lapse of my relative sanity. And I hate that my children, who look to me as an example of how to behave, who are so small and vulnerable, see me like that.

Z and I talk a lot about what to do with our "bad" feelings, because she's an emotional, intense, sensitive person, too. We talk about how it feels to be sad or angry or frustrated, what we want to do when we feel that way but shouldn't because it might hurt other people or ourselves, what we can do to help ourselves that is healthy and reasonable.

I just wish I was more than a step ahead of her on this journey.


Erica said...

I don't know if this makes you feel any better, but I could have written this myself. Pr0zac has taken away the very darkest of days, but I'm by no means Mary Sunshine.

I came to the painful realization today that when Maddie was at her grandparents' last week, I felt great. This week, I'm back in my standard angry, clenched place. Maddie has the ability to push my buttons like no one else. And I find it so hard to not take her dick moves personally. I end up feeling like crap about myself after a day with her. She treats me awfully and I get so upset at my reactions to her. I end the day down in the dumps, Pr0zac notwithstanding.

Anyhow, sometimes it makes me feel like less of a freak when someone else tells me they've been where I am, so I'm hoping it might give you a bit of relief to know you're not alone.

Gina said...

You know, I actually think four year olds have it right a lot of the time and as adults we often have to un-learn a lot of behaviors that may have been imposed on us. In my case, I think basically completely repressing my anger and negative feelings for years went a long way towards contributing to my depression. For me it has been quite challenging to figure out a healthy way to be angry. I still struggle against not expressing any anger at all at times and then exploding at others. It does seem to help me (and the kids) if I just name the feeling explicitly, e.g., admitting "Mama is feeling really angry/sad/frustrated/annoyed/needs some privacy right now."

And for what it's worth I am not sure if it is the end of the summer or some sort of developmental leap or what, but Thomas has been so draining lately. So damned whiny and saying multiple times a day that he is soooo bored and being such a picky eater. I find myself looking forward to my work days right now far more than I did a few months ago.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Erica- Yes, yes it certainly does help to hear that other people have this issue. oxox
Gina- Definitely, watching Z state "I'm SO FRUSTRATED" has gotten me to say the same thing. And I agree- pushing anger down further creates later explosions and depression. So learning to let it out in small, reasonable bits is a daily job of mine.

pamela said...

You have NO idea what a huge gift this post was to me today. For the most part, I have worked on my anger so much since I have had children and I think I am way more patient now and a much better person. On the whole, I am a pretty steady and even mom. However, I had a day today where I was furious most of the day and all of my "progress" went out the window. I yelled, my son yelled back, I stomped away, I literally bit my tongue.

What was interesting is that later, when I was thinking about what a bad job I did today, I thought about a lot of other things that aren't working right now. In that regard, I think anger makes us tell the truth and face things we might not face otherwise. So I think we owe it to ourselves to honor our "dark sides" and the sacred lessons of anger.

I love your mom. "that is what anger looks like." What a wonderful thing to say!

Doing My Best said...

Your girls are so lucky to have such a smart, honest, strong mother who does her best to meet their needs and help them become another generation of smart, honest, strong women!

Shannon said...

Oh, thank you. I would be so embarrassed (ashamed) if anyone could see the days when I'm bristling around the house seething and muttering profanities under my breath with that miserable angry look on my face I've seen so many times on my 5 year old (hmmm....)

What baffles me most often is WHY I can cope some days/moments/hours with the chaos etc. but then other days can't handle it for more than five minutes with out exploding. I think that's why we are so hard on ourselves... because we know we've done better and so expect it of ourselves ALL the time, which anyone could tell us is impossible, but which still hangs over our heads whispering "guilt, guilt, guilt, shame, shame, shame."

As horrible as this sounds, I always feel a little bit better when I see my husband lose his cool too, or hear my neighbor pop her cork. Ahhh, we ARE all human.

Food for thought: Author Gabor Mate "When the Body says No. The cost of Hidden Stress" says, "If the choice is between guilt and resentment, chose guilt every time." Repressed anger leads to disease. (though I'm sure he's not advocating tearing a strip off the check-out clerk at Target when she's chatting on the phone while you wait).

Beyond Diapers said...

I think most folks (or maybe just a % of us with certain personality types) have felt that bad anger feeling, but very few folks talk about it. Does Z have the book Angry Octopus? You might dig it.

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