On a good day, parenting will test the integrity of your character. On a bad day, parenting will test your will to live. Parenting children with trauma histories will cause you to test the integrity of everything and everyone you thought you knew, for the rest of your life.
~J. Skrobisz

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Anger, the setting sun and a basketball

Scripture says not to let the sun go down on your anger. But I have a problem. I'm furious and I have no outlet, no reasonable way to express the volatile rage. So yes, the sun goes down on my anger a lot which means I stuff it the next day in an effort to renew my mind and body and to deal with the new day's crap. And that only works for a little while. Before I know it, the anger is spilling over and I'm angry at innocent bystanders and finding the need to apologize to those individuals that got caught in my crosshairs. Which is fine for a little while, people are very forgiving but eventually, they'll say, "hey! Tread lightly! Quit taking it out on me!" And they'd have a point.

Yesterday morning, after having spent a lovely evening camping out with WG and her Daisy/Brownie troop, she and I returned home to two bleary-eyed men. The Dad and AB had had just about all they could take of Sissy's shenanigans which included a 2.5 hour rage fest that necessitated AB missing his riding therapy... again. And to be frank, without saying so to one another, WG and I were both royally p-oed with having to return home to deal with Sissy ourselves. It was just so refreshing to be with other mothers and daughters of sound-minds and very jarring to return home to insanity ... again.

So the men left for a weekend away and before we knew it, WG and I were angry with one another. We were biting each others heads off, being snippy and rude. I took a time out in my room and thought. WG and I are not mad at each other, we're mad at our situation. We need to let out this anger!

I found WG brooding on the sofa, sending death-ray dagger glares at the blank wall of Sissy's room. "WG?"

"WHAT!"

"We need to talk."

"hmmmph!"

"WG, I'm not mad at you. I'm mad about Sissy."

"ME TOO!!!!"

"I thought so. Let's make a pact. Every time I'm grumpy about Sissy, I promise I won't take it out on you. Do you promise you won't be grumpy at me?"

"But mom, I'm just so mad!"

"I know. Me too."

"it's not fair! Every time I have fun I remember that I have to come home and deal with HER!!!!"

"I know. I feel that way too."

"I hate it!"

"me too."

"GRRRR!!!!"

"I understand. I want to scream too. What do you think of my pact? If we can be nice to each other all day even though we're mad about Sissy, then we'll watch a movie in my bed tonight. Deal?"

"DEAL!"

WG and I pulled it off. It was our secret game. Every time one of us started to get snarky, the other one made the you're-not-mad-at-me face.

But it didn't solve the problem of the pent up physical anger. At one point I found myself in the front yard, pacing like a caged lion, trying to figure out how, HOW! was I going to get out my anger in a safe and productive way? Then my eyes stopped on the basketball at the base of the free standing net in the driveway. Now, playing basketball is useful for anger, but it just doesn't quite cut it. I needed to heave that basketball over and over. Eureka! In the garage is a leftover panel of 3/8" plywood from Sissy's safe room. So I tried it out.

THWOCK!

The basketball hit the plywood with an anger-satisfying sound and it rebounded perfectly back to me with one bounce.

THWOCK!

I did it again.

THWOCK!

Again and again and again. I pounded that basketball hard and long until I was out of breath and the pent up physical anger had simmered. WG came out and sat on the steps that lead into the house. "Mom? Whatcha doin'?"

"Exercising."

"Mom. That's not it. You're mad."

"Yep."

"feel better?"

"yep."

Then this morning, after helping out with WG's Sunday School class, Sissy came to the classroom to meet us and I swear, if WG and I were cats, the hair on our backs would have stood up and our tails would have fluffed. It was that instant, just seeing her. Before I knew it, WG and I were furious again, fuming and festering. Sissy hadn't done anything at that moment, WG and I are just exhausted of dealing with the never ending barrage of miscellaneous little behaviors that she does over and over and over and over...

Somehow, I got the three of us through the grocery store without anyone losing their minds (which was tough to do, let me tell you! WG was screaming, "get her away from me!!!") and when we got home I said, "WG, let Sissy go in the house for a minute. Let's talk."

We talked some more about our anger and I said, "WG, remember yesterday when I was chucking the basketball in the garage?"

"yeah."

"It really helped my anger. Will you try it?"

"ok"

WG got dressed into her play clothes and went straight to the garage. She pounded that ball so hard it made the pictures in my bedroom rattle on the wall. After about ten minutes she came back in with a smile on her face. "WOW! that's much better!"

Scripture might tell us not to let the sun go down on our anger, but that does little to validate an individual's anger, nor does it help dissipate the rage in a constructive way. I watched a movie the other night in which a character took F*ck walks. He'd storm off and out loud cuss up a storm about whatever was pissing him off. That could work, as long as your neighbors don't call the cops or assume you have Tourette's. In that case, I'd say, get yourself a basketball and a 3/8" panel of plywood, lean it up against the garage wall and pound the crap out of it until you can get to a place where you can go to bed and not be angry anymore.

Like I told WG, Sissy will never stop being Sissy. She will ALWAYS be difficult. We can't make her change. BUT, we can change how we deal with it.

We can grab a basketball.

4 comments:

GB's Mom said...

A profound statement from a lady with a basketball!

{{{{{Hugs}}}}}

Elizabeth-Anne said...

Good for you! We have also found solutions in jumping on the bed, spinning in a desk chair, 100 jumping jacks (and my children count to 100 in 3 languages, so if we're still mad, we switch languages and start again), flipping over and over, and letting them somersault off the furniture. Perfect solutions? No. But it sure isn't a perfect world. And how do we know what Jesus did when he went up to pray after seeing all of the senseless injustice of his creations? I'm sure the steep walk up the mountainsides did him good!

Gwenith said...

I think what you taught WG this weekend is a valuable lesson that she will carry with her for the rest of her life. She's lucky to have a mother who can help her learn to not only cope with life's challenges but also deal with them constructively.

I really hope that your family can get the respite it needs.

marythemom said...

Great job! I think it's so cool that you brought some relief to WG too!

Mary in TX