Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Wall Rage

This is the doll bed I bought for Marley at Ikea.

This is the foot of the doll bed I bought for Marley at Ikea.

This is the imprint on the wall made by the foot of the doll bed I bought for Marley at Ikea.

No, Marley didn't do it.
No, Colin didn't do it.
No, Paul didn't do it.
Yes, I, Mary the calm and temperate, in a fit of rage one day, did it.

Bub and Pie recently wrote about the rage she has sometimes experiences. Writing about it was cathartic for her and she wondered if anyone else had posts brewing about her own rage.

While I did not have a specific post brewing, I did happen to glance over at the chunk I took out of what was, at the time, a freshly painted wall and I knew I could throw together this pictorial fairly quickly. It doesn't do anything other than show the physical result of one episode of rage but this is what I can tell you about that day:

I don't remember what I was so outraged by only that I was very angry and the doll bed was lying in my path. I picked it up and threw it at no particular target. The half-second of satisfaction I felt in my decision to huck the thing was quickly overshadowed by my disgust at myself--not just for throwing it but because we had just painted the walls a lovely shade of blue. I definitely had more than a half-second of remorse about it and was grateful no one was around to witness the spectacle.

Physically, the "wall incident" was me at my most extreme. However, in the past I have spent far too much time indulging my rage. Rage from hormone imbalance. Rage from sleep deprivation. Rage from feeling thwarted. My family was subject to verbal outbursts and my stomping about. When Bub & Pie describes, much more eloquently than I can, her emotion, I remember clearly feeling the same way.

Eventually, I started to see that I was justifying my anger--fueling it with excuses. Yes, I was tired. Yes, I have PMS. Yes, I was raised to respond that way. Yes, Paul should automatically capitulate to my every demand. (Kidding!) The satisfaction I gained, though, by giving in began to be outweighed by my realizations of the harm I was doing emotionally to my family and to myself. I began to fight those impulses and I got better... until this past May when I started feeling in a big way the effects of sleep apnea. I started giving in to my frustrations again... then things got better... again.

Something that helps me deal now with my rage is the awareness that my anger is temporary. It will subside. Like the Santa Ana winds I wrote metaphorically about recently, it will pass. I just need to hold on--hold on to thoughts of my family, hold on to a desire to be obedient to God, hold on to help and sympathy from friends and family, hold on to God. Just hold on.

(Let me clarify that when I say I am better at handling my rage, I am not saying I am perfect at it. I still get frustrated and thwarted and hormonal and raise my voice but I am much less likely to stew in it and more likely to process it in a good way. AND, I do believe it is perfectly okay to express frustration.)

Thanks to Bub & Pie for her post on rage and for her inspiration to write about it myself.

"...but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23 NIV


bubandpie said...

That is exactly the insight I'm clinging to today - because today I've been so happy: not just calm or patient, but radiantly happy, as so often happens when one of those rage episodes moves on.

I don't usually have much difficulty keeping the rage inside (my love for the moral high ground prevails; I already feel guilty enough just for the anger I feel; venting it at the children would be pure masochism).

But while I'm busy bottling it up inside, I'll try to remember how good it feels when the rage goes away.

And thanks for posting that verse. Ever since my children are born I've been totally unable to remember what comes after the word "patience" - I'll look it up, and then forget again, because I crash up against that fourth item too hard to look past it. But kindness - that's a good one (if not in myself then in others. Like you.).

sunshine scribe said...

Thanks for sharing this. I considered doing one in response to her post but I don't know if I can. I am the kind of persn who is very uncomfortable with her own rage. I have a pattern of bottling it up so deep down inside. I don't get angry. I get upset - I'll cry or feel hurt - but mad - I have a hard time with mad. But I am working on it. Maybe there is a post in there somewhere ... we'll see.

Anonymous said...

I can relate... I once opened a door so violently that I made a hole in a wall (in a former life -long before children). I was terribly ashamed.

Here's something even more awful to admit - my husband once told me he was scared of me & my outbursts of anger. He was scared I would physically hurt him. I was appalled that my behaviour had affected him in this way. That's when I knew I had to do something to change my ways.

It isn't easy, because it is important not to bottle things up, but we also need to be able to express our rage without harming those near and dear to us.

Kristen said...

Oh yes, my rage is there. It comes out in yelling and occasionally throwing, kicking, or banging items in my path - usually when no one is around. Like you, it's immediately followed by guilt and remorse and self-hatred. I go through phases where it's more under control, but environmental pressure definitely affects my self-control. It's something that has to be a priority - I can't just assume I can keep it under control, or it will sneak up on me, like B&P mentioned in her original post about it.

V-Grrrl said...

I can't remember my rage being expressed with a dramatic physical outburst, but I can holler, curse, and snipe like nobody's business.

Sheila said...

Mary, This is an excellent post and an excellent topic to discuss. Thank you for sharing your experience and responses. It's very valuable to me when it comes to teaching my kids how to express frustration and anger in appropriate ways, something that neither me nor my husband have been taught well in our childhood. Love to discuss this more with you in person, if it comes up.

metro mama said...

Thanks for this honest post.

Anonymous said...

I loved Bub and Pie's post, and I love this one too. Rage, rage, rage. Where does it go if I don't let it out? More importantly, where does it come from?

Aliki2006 said...

Another great post on a good subject--something which affects all of us. I've been thinking quite a bit about the topic--perhaps one day I'll be brave enough to write about it, too.

P.S. I posted below a thanks for nominating me for the ROFL award--it made my day!

Mary-LUE said...

Thanks for the encouragement everyone!

Terri B. said...

I love the verse you include. It is such a help to me when I think about it.

meredith said...

I am a normally calm person subject to fits of rage. I understand. I made a similar hole in a freshly wall-papered wall with a broom one time. I'm not proud. I fixed it, but the vision of what my rage can do still lingers in my mind.

Chantal said...

I have some small reminders around that keep me in check. I tend to get out of control when I get really angry. It's what I dislike most about myself. When I feel it well up, I just remember how I feel afterward and try to bring myself down a bit.

Excellent post!

ECR said...

Even though we all feel rage (at least I'm assuming we do--I mean, it's a fundamental human emotion), it's seldom talked about by us mothers, so kudos to your for continuing the discussion.