Tag Archives: anger

Day 13 Be Present: Forgiveness and The Prisoner

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Day 13 Be Present: Forgiveness and The Prisoner

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.
-Lewis B. Smedes

We can all be prisoners of our own anger, resentment, and stubborn resistance to forgiveness. Nobody knows how hard we have it. Nobody knows how difficult it is. Nobody is there in the middle of the night, when the fears, anger, resentment, and the anxiety are in bed with us. They wrap around us like strangling blankets, encasing us in the darkness. By morning, all we can do is get up and struggle to our day. “They did this to us. They made it awful. If only they hadn’t done_______, everything would be fine.”

Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.
-Lewis B. Swedes

What if we remember it differently? What if we forgive them, forgive ourselves, and what if we see ourselves (that prisoner), who really did a kick-ass job taking care of themselves and their loved ones in the face of difficulties. What if we change that memory into 1) letting the other person off the hook and 2) give ourselves some doses of awesome sauce?

What does that leave us with then?

Day 12 Be Present: Forgiveness and The Feast of Anger

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Day 12 Be Present: Forgiveness and The Feast of Anger

Forgiveness is a tough one. I have to work at it diligently. When I feel resentful, angry, slighted, invisible, disrespected, attacked, forgotten… I usually turn to anger, which feels good and energizing and powerful in the moment. I feel like I can stand up tall again; the world will see me and how important I am. They won’t do that awful thing, ever again!

I use anger to feel better about myself when I am hurt. And we all have lots of opportunities to hurt: snarky sarcastic teenagers, terrible drivers, forgetful parents, ex partners who forget their responsibilities (it turns out that even court-ordered child support can be blown off), demanding bosses who aren’t realistic, etc. When enough of these happen, and I am not taking care of myself (sleep, exercise, food, water)…

I sometimes stand up tall and get really angry, my blood really does get hotter, my head sometimes lifts off of my shoulders, my eyes actually bulge out sometimes, and my voice goes up an octave. I think I am the wolf. I am not present. I am not in my skin. I am not even in this stratosphere.

At first, I might mutter about 50 miles an hour and swirl around my house, cleaning, straightening, whatever helps me to feel more like a martyr. That really helps me get whipped up- housework. Then I let it rip- I rail, I (subconsciously) know the words to use that will sear the hottest deepest wounds. It all comes out. I am angry, disrespected, resentful, and nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. But I am powerful, so powerful in this anger! For about 15 minutes.

Then I feel terrrrrrrrrible.

“Of the seven deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back- in many ways, it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.
-Frederick Beuchner, Wishful Thinking

How can we be present when we are busy feasting on ourselves? Eating out own hearts? We have to take care of our anger if we are to have inner peace. Those wounds will drive us to eat ourselves unless we deal with it in a healthy way- friends, counseling, physical exercise, journaling, find your way to drop the face of anger. Leave the wolf outside.

I am actually very weak and susceptible to anger. I have to use forgiveness and prayer. Lots of both.

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
-Mahatma Gandhi

Action Item: Journal this morning about the wolf. What does she feel? What does she do, and what makes her snarl the most? What can you do to take care of it?

Visualization: Tell that wolf that you love her, and will care for her. Listen to her, and then let her know it is ok for her to go lay down and rest. Then you go take care of her.

Secrets of Single (or Just Crazily Busy) Parenting-For Feeling Overwhelmed

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Secrets of Single (or Just Crazily Busy) Parenting-For Feeling Overwhelmed

I was feeling a little down this week- too much to do, waking up hours too early, worried about kids, blah blah. The same old schtick we all feel. I think it comes with the territory of being responsible for too much, whether you are single or your spouse travels a lot, when we are outnumbered by kids, or when we just feel overwhelmed, it is important to stop and check in on ourselves. So I came up with this quick list.

1. Take care of our needs
Take care of all of our needs (except the new wardrobe every season, that doesn’t help me stress less to spend money like that). Get exercise more than once a week. Eat healthy food. Read a book. Sleep when we are tired. Then, when we are needed, we are ready. Remember, parenting is a marathon race, not a sprint. We have to be ready to keep on going and going and going. So feed yourself.

2. Deal with our anger
If we are angry at someone, it will come out when our kid pushes us to the limit (which happens often, since they are checking on the boundaries of their lives). We need to put the anger where it belongs- become comfortable with healthy conflict and tell coworkers when they took our awesome idea, or cut us out of the deal, or left a mess in the sink. If we stuff it down, it will just come back, at an inopportune time. It is not very effective parenting to blow up when my daughter doesn’t put her backpack (towel, socks, dishes, 100 other things…) away. I have to think about who I am REALLY angry with and put it where it belongs.

3. Forgive the Grownups
Our parents, your ex, my older sister, your older brother, and our friends in 7th grade SHOULD have behaved better. You are right. We didn’t deserve that treatment. And we won’t let it happen again. But they were doing the best they could with what they had back then, and if it happened more than 10 days ago, or 10 hours ago, quit harboring energy there. Make our plan to take care of ourselves better next time, talk to them if needed, and then, ask God to help us forgive them. Send them love and forgiveness every time we think of the bounced check, the biting comment, the abuse, the whatever. Like Frederick Beuchner said (I paraphrase here) “When we are angry, we are feasting with passion, yes. But we are feasting on the bones of ourselves, eating at our own well being.”

4. Stop trying to be perfect
Stop fixing everything and every relationship. Stop trying to have a house like on TV (this is my downfall- those kitchens look so clean!). Stop trying to fix the relationship with our sister/brother/mom- my sister really doesn’t want a face to face relationship. But I keep trying to push it, rather than accepting that she is filled up quite enough on texts alone. Every now and then, I wear my hair really frizzy and crazy, just as homage to the crazy way I feel parenting alone sometimes.

5. Reach out for support
Call friends, write friends, talk to supportive people. I have to be careful with this one- I often “go to the grocery store trying to buy a house”. I call a person who is not able to provide support (but I think they should, so I keep trying). The person I call (e.g. my mom) is just too caught up in her own stuff to hear me, and somehow, I am listening to her tell me how lucky I am, when I wanted her to listen and give me a verbal hug. So I check in and make sure the person I am reaching out to is capable of providing support, and has provided it in the past. (And of course, I need to be sure to provide her support when she asks- the street goes both ways).

6. Find the humor
Even lame stupid humor is better than nothing. I told my son this morning that I forgot what his floor looks like, but the stinky giraffe who moved in there really likes it. He laughed and opened up enough to share to me that it was bothering him too. That was music to my ears. Because when we have kids with messy rooms, aren’t we just afraid that they will live like street people and never wear a clean shirt after they turn 22? If I can abate the fear, I can sleep better. And laughing at fear seems like really good revenge for that 3:30 am worry session.

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Our Children Are Our Best Medicine

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I was asked to see Michael Vladeck speak about 2 days after writing my last blog entry regarding raising teenagers and pulling my hair out. Ha! Don’t you love how the Universe and God provide just what you need at the perfect time? Here is a 3-minute youtube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sKDob2lSzo

“When the student is ready, the teacher appears”. I guess I was ready. Michael Vladeck explained that raising kids brings up all the issues that WE need to work on. So if our parenting is a hard phase for us right now, then something is coming up in our own brains and beings that we need to address, recover, learn, and grow from in order to meet our childrens’ parenting needs.

He also said we are on the front wave of BEING instead of just DOING the parenting to support our kids. Remember our parents’ style of parenting (“Stop arguing now, or I will pull over the car and you can WALK!”)? We really are making landmark changes in parenting and raising responsible healthy adults when we listen to them, ask what is bothering them, be present with them in their struggles, and cultivate consciousness by being centered ourselves. (Yes, the consequences still apply, but we need to seek first to understand before we can be understood).

I tried this the other day with my teenage boy I have watched grow from a sweet little guy who loved to hold my hand to a sometimes lying taller than me dude who leaves puddles of water and wet towels on my bathroom floor twice a day. He was complaining about his teachers (2 of whom had emailed me and told me he is still socializing too much to actually focus on his work in class…).

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I began interrupting immediately, with the news of his grades and grounding, and blah blah consequences. He walked out of the room in a huff, which was a subtle clue that I had missed an opportunity and was going to have diminishing impact on his decisions. So I restarted: I apologized for not listening, and we sat outside so I would not be tempted to load the dishwasher while we talked it over. I barely talked at all. I mainly listened, and listened, and listened some more to the rant. I felt myself softening towards him, the anger melted away every time I said “Wow, that sounds hard”. I saw him relax too, and he poured a lot out. A LOT. I needed to hear that stuff, he needed to say it, and we needed that reconnection.

Michael Vladeck said that “Anger is sometimes the only way to have control, or semblance of control in our lives. Rage masks unworthiness.” Ouch! Good one there, huh? My son is out of my control and it makes me feel unworthy for some reason… I can no longer control anything in his life except the volume of food available in my kitchen for him to eat. He will either wear the bike helmet or strap it to his backpack. He will either eat the food prepared, or gorge on sweet tarts 20 minutes beforehand. It is also his choice to follow his friends or make his own decisions. He is not a reflection of me (unlike the message our parents gave/give us). He is his own person, and his choices should not make me feel unworthy. When I am stuck in my own gunk and projecting that onto my kids, I fail to be present with them in theirs and miss the opportunity to teach them to be present with their stuff, to model how to work out their issues.

Our kids have real-life issues. I am the one paying the mortgage and going to work, but I am not the only one in the house with a stressful life. Our kids need to see us grapple and deal with our issues. We need to grapple and deal with our issues for at least 3 reasons: 1) to model to them how to do it; 2) to assure them that it is ok to have heartbreak over a lost boyfriend, angst over financial stress, sadness over lost friends, etc. because everyone has that stuff; and 3) so that we as parents can clean up our own side of the street and be present with our kids having their own experiences and issues.

Anger Squared

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“Resentment is anger over time”. Says David Jeremiah in Slaying the Giants Within.

I was feeling very self-righteous, having mostly disposed of and therapied away my anger and resentment at my ex husbands. Occasionally it still pops up, but I don’t dwell on it or anything that happened.

But every morning, on my run, I would yhink of how angry I was at my boss for shortening a deadline on me by 25%. I was indignant, irritated, annoyed, and felt awful about myself that I couldn’t meet his expectations. But I just tried to suck it up, thinking I could compartmentalize it, work as hard as I could while children slept, and everything would be fine.

But it wasn’t fine at all! I was angry at other people, sarcastic, crabby, had high unkind expectations, and didn’t take kindly to jokes… I was unable to compartmentalize my anger, and it grew in my belly unchecked but more like mold than a volcano.

I had to have a nuclear meltdown before I realized I needed to stand up for myself and explain that his expectations would not be met.

We cannot compartmentalize our anger or resentment, it molds and grows and festers over to our other relatonships.

Maybe this is why when we love one person, our other relationships benefit as well by all the spread of good feelings…