Thirty-five years is a long time to be angry. As a child I often murmured under my breath, I’ll never let anyone hurt me again as my stomach twisted in a ball with my jaw clenched tight because I stubbornly refused to let the tears fall. I hated feeling afraid and small. Fast forward to being a wife and mother… those I love most became afraid of me.
Ask my husband about the time I locked him out of his own house with a chair propped against the door just for extra measure. He loves to tell that story. My heart was rock hard soil where nothing but weeds were thriving.
Generational junk in the trunk
My oldest child is now eight years old, and she was also a victim of my out of control angry rages. Towering over her tiny body until I felt the full release and relief that my body desperately craved. At the moment it felt good, even powerful, but after…
the failure, shame, and regret settled in.
Rinse and Repeat.
I memorized every verse in the Bible about anger. Bought all the books and T-shirts on how to overcome it. I desperately prayed. I found myself returning to the same emotional outbursts that provided only temporary comfort. No amount of reading, praying or standing on my head for hours would heal my nervous system.
There is always one child, if not more, that can push our buttons. My sweet and feisty Abby was my greatest source of frustration, but also the catalyst for my healing. One day, out of the blue, I recognized myself in her, as though I was gazing directly into my own reflection. She was becoming the mirror of my anger and inner turmoil. She was my wake up call as her light, life, and confidence faded into a place of insecurity and fear.
I’d stare at her for hours as a baby with all the fierceness of a mother bear promising to protect her. I had no idea I would need to protect her from me.
It was time for a change. But how?
finding the courage to stop running
Healing always takes longer than we expect or imagine it will. My healing began while I was writing my book. As I walked back through the pain of my past, I saw a common theme. I was always running from someone or something until I realized that someone was me… all the pain still locked inside my heart.
Self-awareness. I began to understand that I lived in a constant state of fight, flight, or freeze. My nervous system was a mess, causing me to perceive even a six-year-old as a threat.
They say anger is sadness’s bodyguard. I fully understood that if Abby was going to feel safe with me again, I would have to do the work to heal. I didn’t do it on my own. EMDR therapy helped to rewire my brain, while I paid close attention to my nervous system.
angry hearts produce weeds
I love that we can bury a seed in the darkness of the earth, and given proper care, that seed will flourish into something that nurtures. I’m often irritated by the weeds that grow alongside these nurturing plants. If I don’t pull the weeds out by the roots, they quickly grow back.
There were roots of bitterness and anger. Hurt and betrayal. Mistrust and fear.
I traveled back to my childhood. Started digging up the dirt. Curled up in the fetal position, either on my bed, or locked behind the bathroom door, my body shook and quivered from the physical pain I felt. This was the release I needed, not the flood of adrenaline that coursed through my veins through anger and rage.
Just as the rain softens the soil, my tears began to soften my hardened heart, but it created a ton of mud in the beginning. It was overwhelming to feel the pain of my buried emotions, but it was worth it.
the secrets to healing
- First, I had to learn there was nothing wrong with me, just as there is nothing wrong with you. Our bodies are doing exactly what they should in keeping us safe and protected. Pay attention to your triggers. You know, those things that make you wanna gouge your husband’s eyes out. LOL! They will lead you to the places where your heart needs healing. For most of us, our triggers are immediate. We have very little control over them because trauma is stored in the body.
- If you have trauma in your past, you’re going to need help. Don’t try to do the work on your own. Find a trauma-informed therapist that you feel safe with. Self-compassion and gentleness are your friends. Shame is not.
- Second, I began taking radical responsibility. Blaming others and defending myself only hindered the healing process. Blaming myself only produced more shame which is why I stayed stuck.
- Third, I wallowed in self-judgment, rolling around in the pigpen of shame and defeat. Anger and rage caused by trauma are not something we can “just get over” or learn to control. We have to heal the place in us that’s been wounded.
- Last, sometimes our anger manifests simply because we are overwhelmed and exhausted. Run! I know I said don’t run but this is the only time you should run far away from your husband and your children and do something to nurture yourself for once.
finally a safe place
I wish I had the words to convey the shift in the atmosphere, both in my soul, and now in my home. Do I still struggle? Oh sure, I’m human. Now I can look to those moments with curiosity and compassion as points of wisdom that my heart needs more healing.
Oh, and my eight-year-old… She’s blooming and blossoming under my much less angry care. Her confidence in me and herself is slowly returning. Not all of our days are perfect, but we now have the tools to fix the things we break more quickly.
The absolute best thing we can do for our kids is to do the work to heal ourselves. We will then raise emotionally intelligent, empathetic, and compassionate kids without their own baggage to unpack as adults.
If this resonates would you share it so that other women don’t feel like they are alone in their struggles? Anger is something that’s rarely ever talked about.