My Blog Motto

"Good judgement comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgement"

~Rita Mae Brown

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Ow of Anger

Having your nearly grown kid be angry with you is one of the more gut wrenching experiences anyone can handle. Not just because they are our children and therefore we hope and expect that they will love us unconditionally, but because they so it so damn well. There was a quote by an actor that went something like this "your mother knows how to push your buttons; after all she was the one who installed them". Brilliant...and true. But the uncanny skill for knowing just what buttons to push and with the most effective timing and frequency is not limited to parental instinct. Children know this secret too.
Chances are when your kid is angry with you it comes out over something really petty, but the true nature or root of the anger is probably something you did or didn't do way back at some point in their childhood. You feel guilty about these things and they know it, so they pick on the most symbolic representation of the original hurt, something that appears benign and petty but is loaded with intent, and they hurl it at you full force.
In some circles this is known as passive aggressive behavior. In plain truth it's self preservation. It's "I'm angry/sad/hurt because of something you did but I'm afraid to bring it out into the light where we all have to see and feel it. Instead I will nit pick you about a minor and safe irritation so I can feel in control of the situation and you will feel bad, but not too bad."
So as opposed to the hypothetical Mom who installed the buttons, the kid has the users manual for the buttons. It is entirely possible that grandparents provide their grandchildren with these instructions in some sort of secret coming of age ceremony.
Right now my son is angry. He has a right and plenty of reasons to be angry, with me, his father and his stepmother. Now is not the time for me to attempt to resolve the battle with whatever demons he is facing. That time will come after he has acted out, carried around a chip on his shoulder and done whatever else he needs to do to acknowledge his anger.
Insofar as my response, do I take it personally? Hell yes. It is personal. As I said he has reasons to be angry, even if many of those reasons and events are over a decade old. Because it is personal, I need to deal with it personally.  ("It" being the feelings of guilt and remorse that have been triggered by his actions.)  The feelings were there already and even though I have "dealt" with them in therapy, with the support of friends and loved ones and in my own growth, they don't ever go away completely. His anger was the catalyst for an internal combustion of old feelings that now demand revisiting. Each time we do revisit these feelings, we see them from a new perspective. Hopefully each time we take them out dust them off and look them over, our perspective is clearer and our vision is stronger. Our ability to cope grows with our wisdom and it becomes a little easier face the fact that we have been less than perfect parents, friends, wives, sisters...whatever role we missed our cue in playing while we were otherwise distracted by our own problems, maybe getting revenge on our own parents at the time. Taking the time to sort these things out, individually, is essential to being able to resolve our differences  If we don't take the time to get our Egos out of the way then we are just applying emotional band-aids and postponing the real work of healing.

© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

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