I see just about everything in my life as a teacher. When I take the time to look, most experiences and relationships have something to show me…but I’ve had a rocky relationship with anger. Growing up in a culture that did not really tolerate anger as a healthy expression, I never really knew how to deal with it. In fact, I would deny I experienced it at all. “I’m not angry…I’m disappointed, frustrated, tired, sad.” As a result, I don’t get really angry very often. Let me tell you what, last night I was angry! In fact, I was LIVID! The details don’t really matter…It had to do with my children and some acts of defiance. I have dealt with these things before, but something in me just snapped and I was DONE. In those moments, when I realized I was really and truly angry, I got to decide how to act. If I had opened my mouth and really let out my feelings, I would have had many things to apologize for later on. I decided to let myself be angry and I hid out in my room for a bit to let the feelings cool down. I gave myself permission NOT to work it out just yet. I’m not proud of the fact that I was triggered or that I felt such rage growing in my body, but I was proud of the fact that 1) I could acknowledge, finally, that I was indeed angry; and 2) that I could sit in the anger and wait.
After some time to process and an apology from one of my kids, I’m feeling better and ready to start talking about it with them. It’s a paradox for me as I think about it, I am actually glad that my kids get to see my human-ness. That they experience my anger in a way that’s not destructive or long-lasting. I need them to know that their actions have consequences and that they can be resolved through good communication and that I do, in fact experience pain. In the end, in my opinion, my healthy expression of anger and boundaries creates a more loving, connected and trusting relationship. By being open, honest and real, I avoid resentment and passive-aggressive tendencies. I’m proud to be working with my own imperfections and trying to show them what it means to be human, with all its chaos, messiness and beauty.
May your experiences with anger be the catalyst for greater intimacy and clarity of boundaries in your relationships.