Anger, it’s a poison! I know this because I can see it poisoning my own life. I have so much anger towards my mom for so many things; most of which have to do with my childhood. I haven’t written about my mom until now because it just didn’t seem right to me to spew all that anger out and onto the WORLD WIDE web. My goal is not to make my mom look bad, but I want to be real, open, and honest about my pain and hurt. I’m only mentioning some things now in an effort to show you how anger can poison a person’s life. I guess you could say that my childhood is a product of her inability to face her own childhood because when you don’t face, deal, and heal from your own childhood then it makes it that much harder to be a healthy person and parent. Since she hadn’t dealt with her own childhood she was unable to trust her instinct that told her that my step-dad was doing something inappropriate to me. After all, how could she face what was happening to me when she hadn’t faced the difficulites of her own childhood. I’m not trying to make any excuses here, but to simply explain why I think things happened they way that they did. So, get ready and be prepared to embark with me on this emotional journey as I share with you how I’m dealing with my anger.
So, where does some of this anger stem from? It seems to me that my whole life has not been about me; it has been about her…about taking care of her and being responsible for her well being. As a teenager I was the one the whole family looked to, to snap my mom out of her suicidal depression…I was the one who was to fix it all. Is that right, is that fair, is that something that should be a child’s responsibility? No! That is something that should in no way be placed upon a child. And yet there I was…her emotional care taker. And I simply can’t and won’t do it anymore. Even my molestation wasn’t about me, but was about her. She once said to me, “I can’t believe that Jon hated ME so much that he would do that to you”. Please! Please! Never say something like that to a survivor of sexual abuse, rape, or someone who is a survivor of any kind of abuse. It was like everything that I had gone through and had suffered didn’t matter because it was all about her and how she felt betrayed. Was she betrayed? Yes she was. She trusted him with me, and he abused this trust given to him in many ways. However, I was the one who was sexually abused. It happened to ME…and not to her!! This comment made me feel as though it didn’t matter that I was the one who was sexually abused. My mom carries so much guilt around about not protecting me that she often tries to sooth her guilt by having a pity party in the hopes that I’ll tell her no she wasn’t a bad parent, but a really, really good one, and do all that I can to make her feel better about herself (which I did for a long time). Her emotional well being is not my responsibility. I am not responsible for making sure that she feels good about herself. That is something that only she can do for herself. Was she a horrible parent? No, she wasn’t, but that doesn’t mean that she didn’t make a lot of mistakes.
I struggle to have any kind of contact with her because I always feel as though she is looking to me to somehow make her feel good about herself, and when I draw boundary lines she has a fit and has even called me rude for doing so. I’m just so tired of feeling like I’m her emotional dumping ground. It is not any fun for me when I have to worry about her motives behind things. I often feel as though she wants to do things for me or with me because she is trying to prove that she is a good parent/person or to try to make things up to me because she didn’t protect me as a child. All this does is put an awful lot of pressure on me to make her feel good about herself. Again, I’m not here to be her emotional care taker, and I refuse to play that role any longer. I would love to have a “normal” adult daughter and mother relationship with her. I am not however going to go with her to get my nails done so that she can use it as an opportunity to prove something to herself…so that she can say, “see what I’ve done for you; doesn’t this make me a good parent/person”. Her self-loathing, un-forgiveness, and her complete lack of willingness to truly face her issues have completely tainted my relationship with her. She lacks the proper coping skills needed to move forward, and in addition to that…her refusal to forgive has her locked up and trapped in the past, and incapable of being able to move forward. I haven’t always been upset with her over my childhood. But she was just so convinced that I had to be, that I must be so angry with her over it all that it has turned into a self fulfilling prophecy.
Ok, enough of all of that. Some of you may be thinking by this time…”Isn’t all that anger that you have towards your mom just the same as all the un-forgiveness and anger that your mom has inside of her?” Well, the answer to that is…yes! My anger and un-forgiveness towards her is in many, many ways just the same as all the hurt, anger, and un-forgiveness that she is carrying around inside of her. After all it can have the same damaging effects in my own life in just the same way that it has damaged her life. This is NOT the path that I want to be on.
I have for about the last two weeks now have really been examining myself and the role that my anger plays. Here is what I have realized:
1) I have used my anger as a way to protect myself from getting hurt by her
2) It was the only way that I knew how to protect myself from getting hurt by her
3) I have used it to validate my hurt, and to prove that I have the RIGHT to be angry
4) Anger feeds anger
5) My anger towards my mother leaves me with less understanding and compassion towards my own children, and leaves me always on edge with them. This is a very big deal to me, and has to change.
6) It drains my energy; which effects my whole day
Here are some of the things that I have been saying to myself in regards to those things that I have realized about my anger:
1) That yes, the anger did help me to protect myself, that it did a good job for a while, but now it’s time to move onto more effective ways of dealing with my mom that are much healthier for me and my family. That I no longer need to use anger to protect myself from getting hurt, and I cut myself some slack for not knowing any other coping skills for dealing with her.
2) Healing can be scary, and sometimes it seems like holding onto the hurt, anger, and un-forgiveness is the safe thing to do. Letting go of it all can be incredibly scary because often times we can feel like if we let it go then who will stand up and say that what was done to us is not right, and then if we let it go does it mean that what they did is all of the sudden ok. I had that fear when it came to fully letting go of what Jon, my abuser, did to me. I had to realize that wrong is still wrong, and that as long as I knew what he did was wrong and that I knew that God saw it as wrong…then that’s all that matters to me. I no longer had the urge to continually shout from the mountain tops, “Look what Jon did to me and IT WAS WRONG!!!” I could then fully let it go. I need to apply that same principal to the anger that I have towards my mom. I don’t need to hold onto this anger as a way to prove that she has hurt me. Wrong will still be wrong; hurt will still be hurt, but I can choose a new way to deal with it.
3) I hold myself to very high standards. Sometimes these standards are so high that they are unattainable, but I hold myself to them anyways. I have a hard time giving myself a break, and I get very frustrated with myself if I can’t get something right the first time. I wouldn’t dare hold people to some of the standards that I hold myself to. So, the more frustrated that I got with myself over not being able to get past my anger; the more anger that I had, and the more frustrated that I got with myself. And around and around it went. In the mean time all that was happening was my anger towards myself just fueled my anger towards my mom. And up and up it went. Since I’ve given myself some slack for not being able to just drop my anger at the drop of a hat; I’ve noticed that the anger is being starved out and is dying out. Acceptance and forgiving one’s self is the key. By accepting my anger and that I was unable to drop it like I wanted to is what is helping me to move past it.
4) By being angry with my mom it allows anger to always be just underneath the surface, and any little thing can trigger it and bring it out. My children deserve better than that from me! I also have to realize that my children are not me, and that I shouldn’t hold them to some of the standards that I hold myself to. I didn’t have much of a childhood, and in fact most of my childhood memories are centered on being around adults. So, children being children is somewhat of a foreign concept to me. I’m sure that I did many things that children do, but those just aren’t the bulk of what I remember of my childhood. My focus is on becoming a healthy person and parent so that some of these dysfunctional things that have been passed down from generation to generation stop with me, and don’t get passed along to my children. I can do for them what my mom couldn’t do for me. She would always tell me that we were going to break the cycle and that she wasn’t going to be like her mom. Unfortunately, my mom lacks the ability to have been able to carry that out. It hurts knowing that my mom couldn’t do for me what I am not only able to do but WILL DO for my kids…I wish that she could have.
5) Here’s the most important thing to me…What does God’s word have to say to me about this issue.
EPHESIANS 4:26 “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:” (Being angry is not in its self wrong, but it’s when we sin out of our anger that is wrong)
PSALM 38:8 “Cease from anger and forsake wrath: fret not theyself in any wise to do evil”
HEBREWS 12:14, 15 “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: looking diligently lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled”
JEREMIAH 4:18 “Thy word and thy doings have procured these things unto thee; this is thy wickedness, because it is bitter, because it reacheth unto thine heart”
PROVERBS 10:12 “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins”
1 JOHN 2:9 “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now”
PSALM 38:18, 22 “For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin. Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation”
PSALM 32:7 “Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance”
PSALM 31:24 “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord”
This is what a big part of the word of God is all about to me…aligning my thoughts, opinions, words, behaviors, and actions (basically all that I am) with the word of God. Seeing where I may be wrong, repenting, receiving God’s forgiveness, and seeking God for His strength and help in facing the challenges and situations that come up in life.
So, this is me, and how I have been dealing with MY anger. I hope that reading about how I am facing and dealing with my anger will help someone who is facing their own anger, and hurt. I know it can be scary. Hope in the Lord and trust in Him, and He will bring you through it…healed and delivered.