Sunday, August 24, 2008

Beast


Posted by Anonymous.


Immediately after it happens, I am surprisingly cool. It's only a few minutes later, when I think of his little face and the fear and confusion written on it that I start to crumble inward. The guilt and disappointment in myself are overwhelming, and there's nobody to blame, no extenuating circumstances to add up and say "This is why it happened." It just comes out of nowhere.

I am surprised because it's not a particularly hard night. I was easy on everyone, letting the children watch a new DVD, skipping bathtime so bedtime could happen punctually. Kyle wasn't even resisting more than usual, and he even cleaned up his cars without being forced. But he peed in his pants and then asked for water. I said no. He cried. I thought about how he gets his way in this manner too often, that it's becoming a pattern and it must be stopped. So I stood firm, and kept saying no. He threw a tantrum. I lost it.

I slammed his closet door and yelled at him as loud as I could: "LISTEN TO ME! WHEN MOMMY SAYS 'NO' YOU SAY 'OKAY, MOMMY!' You do NOT throw a tantrum and scream and cry!" I held him by the shoulders and yelled this into his face, which made him cry harder. His eyes widened and he shrank away from me in fear and despair. He had awakened the hideous impatient unmotherly thing inside me. He knows the deal by now. He's already three. This would end badly, and he was totaled.

It only gets worse. I roughly pulled his Pull Up on and then shoved him into bed, yelling "I'm sick of you! Go to sleep!" and then slamming the door on my way out of his room. And then, as he wailed with rejection and sadness, I calmly took the garbage outside and threw a load of laundry into the washer.

Who is this version of myself that can treat my child this way? Why do I, the nurturing woman who dissolves into tears when I hear of any child being mistreated, mentally stand aside and watch from within as this happens? It's like another person takes over my body and I can only think "you should stop. This is getting worse. You'll regret this later."

And I do. I do, very much. My throat hurts from yelling and from suppressing the sobs that are just below the surface. My heart hurts, and it's making my back hurt and my toes hurt and my head hurt. I have hurt my child with my words and manner, and I can't take it back.

I need a way to handle this when it happens. I need my self to speak up when the angry beast rears her head and takes over. I need to stop this now, before it happens again as the children get over, and these episodes root themselves in their memories and affect the way they are shaped as people. I need help.


34 comments:

Anonymous said...

this entire thing has me in tears. i could have written this myself. it pains me deeply when things are going well and I reach toward her and she flinches like i beat her. i have intimidated her and she's afraid I will hit her. I need help too and don't know where this comes from.

Anonymous said...

You are not alone. I get ugly like that now and then too and I am not sure how to stop it. I am not beating my kids but I do yell and scream when I really should be calm and collected.

Anonymous said...

you know you need help. please get help. change will come and it will be real and your child will know.

Anonymous said...

I have found that this is really symptomatic of my depression and when I am cycling, off my meds, feeling overwhelmed and out of control I scream at my kids. I will never forget the time I yelled at my son (2.5 at the time) and he started crying and said "I want my daddy"...it was one of the most horrible feelings I have ever had in my life.

So maybe think about where your mind is that you are triggering this way. Watch yourself and when you feel it rising, leave immediately and go take a walk if you can. If not, go in another room until you can calm down. It's the fractions of those minutes that make me go over the edge.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I have also learned to apologize to my children when I've gone over the edge. I hold them and talk to them and tell them that I am sorry and we talk about ways of working on working through these episodes. But a follow up is important to me, for what it's worth.

Kristin said...

I know that this is a part of me. It freaked me out enough that I didn't have children. I have to make up stories as to why my husband and I didn't have kids, but I was terrified that I couldn't keep my cool.

Anonymous said...

sweetie, just want to ditto the comment that it is a flag for depression and not you being a horrible mother/person or whatever. The impatience I get w/ depression is so different from say getting ticked off at a bad driver. It feels almost primal. It can and will get better from here. You know you want it to. Saying it aloud, even anonymously is where you start doing it differently.

Stacey said...

You are so far from alone with this. I could have written this post myself, which is what compelled me to respond. Please have some peace in knowing that it is because you love your child so much that it pains you to hurt him. And because you love him and want to do something about this, you need to dig down deep within and find that strong person who is able to stop the yelling. I myself am working on this...it is really really hard. Take baby steps, like starting with the apologies when you lose it. I find my children really respond well to that. Then forgive yourself. I wonder what else is going on in your life...do you have other stressors affecting your mental well-being? If you do (like me) it may be worth a chat with your doctor. I found a great family counselor who has taught me strategies to handle my kids without yelling. It's been a great blessing. Don't be afraid to seek help--it's not a sign of weakness. It's a sign of strength. You're a good mom--and your kids are worth it.

Anonymous said...

You're furious about something, and it's not your boy. Therapy would help you figure out why you're so mad and how you can express it in a way that won't scare your kids.

I fight this battle every single day and because I'm in therapy, most times I win. When I'm mad, I want to tell my kids that I'm sick of them and that they're selfish little jerks. Instead I say something like, "I am so mad I could throw something! I am really frustrated right now!" My kids don't like hearing that but at least they don't internalize bad things about themselves when they hear it.

Anonymous said...

I grew up with parents just like you. Well intentioned, loving parents who needed help, advice, and guidance.

As an adult, I forgive them for what they've done, but I cannot reconcile their complacency. Get help. They're worth it, you're worth it.

You aren't a bad person. You have anger and control issues. They are treatable with dedicated therapy work. Please, please, please get help.

We're in your corner. I've dealt with this kind of rage myself. You will be overwhelmed with freedom and peace when you get some help.

Anonymous said...

I could have written this post and it kills me inside each day that I act like that.

I'm in therapy and on medication and while it helps, it's baby steps and really fucking hard work.

I don't have any advice, just a big sympathetic shoulder and a "me, too," to give you. And a thank you for being brave enough to post what so many of us are going thru.

Steph said...

Again, you are not alone. Therapy may be the answer. Medication may be the answer (I doubt I will ever stop taking my prozac). Speaking with other mothers (like you've done here) can also help a great deal. I wish you the best.

Anonymous said...

One of the best things you can do is say sorry to your little one. It'll teach him that even mummy can make mistakes, but even mummy has to say sorry when she's wrong. Tell him you gave yourself a time out, something like that. Ask him if he accepts your apology and will give you a kiss and cuddle.

He'll understand that you were angry but you still love him but he pushed to far. He's a child, but it doesn't mean you can't treat him like anyone else you yelled at. I always feel so much closer to my son when I've done something mean to him and I apologize and we cuddle. It makes us both feel better :)

Dating Trooper - Dating is Warfare said...

I know this beast lives within me too. But I don't have kids yet. I'm 35 and the clock is ticking. But reading this triggered my maternal snooze button yet again.

It must be a scary feeling. But it sounds like others go through it too.Hope you get it figured out. If so, share the good news too OK?

Anonymous said...

From the Beast:

Thank you to everyone who is commenting. I had no idea. I just had no idea.

Baby in the City said...

You know you want better for yourself and your son, so please do get help.
Also, when you are calm, apologize for your behaviour, in detail. Your son will remember and know what you are talking about. Explain to him what happens, that it is not his fault, that you don't mean it, that you love him dearly, that he deserves better. If you were to walk him through it, teach him the words and give him the self-esteem, he might just surprise you in the middle of an episode one day by telling you not to talk to him that way, that you are out of line and hurting his feelings. Could snap you off the sidelines. At the very least, I think we all need to equalize the negative things we do and say to our children with positive messages of accountability, remorse, love. None of us are perfect, but when we're wrong, we need to fess up.

Jessica said...

I was nearly in tears when reading this... a little for you and a little for me. My son is 10 months old and I lose it sometimes too... not hitting but being rougher than necessary or treating him with disregard. I would lay down my life for him and yet I treat him that way... I can't wrap my mind around it. I am seeking help, I hope you do to!

Anonymous said...

I must be the only one who thinks that kids need to learn that "When you persistantly act like a whiney shit, it's going to piss people off."

Lamont

Anonymous said...

I am crying as I read this because it is me, every single word. I know the feeling of being taken over and looking on as if I was not part of it.

My grandparents were alcoholics and they hurt my parents with words and beatings. My parents tried to be different, and in many ways were, but they still had that genetic predisposition towards anger and rage and although I understand and have forgiven them, I still remember the spankings with the belt.

I have been seeking help for about ten years now. That's why I waited so long to have kids. It's a combination of nature and nurture. The nurture part is the "easier" part (but none of it is easy). I have learned that when I'm not taking care of myself my ego feels so neglected that it rages out to get the attention it feels is missing. It hates that the kids get away with making my life so much harder. But I'm learning to deal with this.

The hard part is the brain chemicals that are hardwired by generations of anger to respond in certain ways to these situations. My normal female hormonal cycle is a huge contributor to this as well. I have been talking about wanting to go and find some kind of doctor to try and help me with this but I don't even know where to start.

Blow ups used to make me feel better when I was younger, but now they hurt. They hurt my heart for obvious reasons, but they also leave me with headaches and my body is left drained and ringing.

As someone else mentioned above, I hug and apologize. I admit to them that I shouldn't have been so angry and yelled like that. I want my children to know that mommy has an anger issue that I'll spend my whole life working on for them and that it's not their fault. I want them to know that they don't have to be like this but that there are people in the world who are.

Reading all the comments encourages me to start the process of trying to find someone who understands and can help me find solutions to the chemical aspect. Thank you for being brave enough to send in your post and speak out for all of those who walk in your shoes. Thank you to all the comments for sharing your stories and experiences.

Anonymous said...

I too could have written your post. We're all thinking of you. If it's possible, get help. If you're like me and can't afford it, walk away. Lock yourself in your room, give yourself a time out. If the anger gets the better of you, apologize.

Anonymous said...

All this talk about therapy and what not is bs. Children have to learn who is boss. They have to learn to control themselves. Children will push you to see how far they can go. They have to learn what behavior is right and what is wrong. I sometimes yell at my kids. I yell really loud. Have I made them cry because of my yelling? Yes. Do they fear me when I am yelling? Yes.

I will tell you this. My children love me as much as any children can. Yes, I discipline them, but I also do a ton of fun things with them. Do they jump in my arms almost everyday when I get home? Yes. They know how to act especially in public. If you are too easy on children they will run you over.

The best thing is you don't have to yell at them much once they know where they stand and what they can do. They learn quickly. Are there other ways for them to learn? Yes. I use them in addition to the yelling. Do they stand with their nose on the wall? Yes. Have I gone too far at times? Yes. I have apologized to my children for that.

Anonymous said...

I so understand your pain. My kids are adopted so they have already had the shitty end of the stick with lousy alcoholic, druggy, prostituting bio-parents. My oldest is ADHD and we had a horrible start to our relationship that went on for four years (we've had them 5 years now), but I'm still battling those old scars he placed on me and I placed some on him too. Not physical ones, no way, but I have spoken to him terribly before, many times, all the while thinking "What the hell are you doing?"

It is hard. Really hard. I work at it every single day, harder than I work at anything else in my life, to say positive things to him now. But I fear that will never make up for all the negative things I have said to him in the past.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mother,
We know you love us and sometimes you get upset. It doesn't stop us from loving you.
Your children.

Actually, Friend, please try and get some help. DO NOT feel alone in this--we are only human. I know if I do not take my meds, I'd go postal (that's why they don't sell guns on the street--just because of me.) There should be resources in your town that can help. Here is my email if you want:
nkappes@h-mlaw.com. My rosary will be said in your intention tonight. God bless!

Anonymous said...

You described my mother. As a child I never knew when my mother would fly in to a rage and at 37 I still don't. Even know if I see my mother's anger flash I brace myself for the screaming and shrink away from her. You need to get help because if you don't learn healthier ways to deal with what's going on then your relationship with your child will suffer and so will his children some day. The shouting and rough handling is just as damaging as hitting - you just can't see the bruises. Apologizing is great but if you don't change the behavior it won't mean much.

Anonymous said...

Could have been me. Hurts.

Anonymous said...

This was me. I realized I was depressed. I went on medication and even though I still lose it sometimes, it happened WAY less often. Everybody in my home is way calmer and happier now.

AmyinMotown said...

This is my mother too.And it's me.Not as often as my mother did, and not as severely, and I don't do the personal attacks (yet) but I have cursed at her.

I'm already on medication. My problem is, she's three and a half and strong willed as hell and testing me every minute of the day (she BIT me today. Unprovoked, I might add). And the baby is still up multiple times a night so I haven't had more than three hours of sleep a night in six months, SIX MONTHS DAMMIT, so I am exhausted all the time. I find myself getting short with the baby and screaming at my girl.

One thing I try to put into practice is when I feel that flash of anger I tell myself "stop"and get out of the situation. I can usually be calm pretty quickly, and just getting away from her when that anger starts is helpful.

The other thing that helps, like everyone says, is apologizing. I remember how terrifying my mother's temper can be; I also remember the few times she apologized AND didn't make it all about her. Just today I apologized to my daughter for yelling at her, and she said OK; then a little later she apologized to me for what triggered the yelling (pulling my hair). Spontaneously, and sincerely. We've even talked about working together to make things go better -- she tries harder to cooperate, I try harder to not yell.

It's hard. Its so hard. Admitting it's a problem and actually your fault and not your kid's is huge, from someone who's been on the receiving end.

Anonymous said...

i have cried into my pillow some nights from some awful thing i said. i don't remember my mother ever yelling, but she says she did EVERY DAY.

::::wifemothermaniac:::: said...

my blog is my way of writing about how I'm trying to stop doing this. I've been tryong hypnosis, therapy, traditional chinese medicine, herbs, vitamins and supplements, tai chi, meditation, listening to various audio tapes/videos on peaceful parenting, reading at least 30 parenting books. I'll keep working on it...it's a hard one. It helps us to share though. The next thing I'm looking to try are the "emotional freedom technique" (google it).

Anonymous said...

I too could have written this post.. only my child is ten months old. I feel terrible when I lose my temper and get frustrated for whatever reason. My son's spirit is full of light and happiness...and to think of me losing my temper at him... well, it makes me sick to my stomach and so let down with myself. To see that face after I've lost my cool... is the worst thing in the world. You are not alone, I am not alone though it is a club I want desperately out of.

Anonymous said...

I think A LOT OF US could have written this post. I could have. Absolutely.

It sucks.

Anonymous said...

Get help. I remember every single cruel thing my parents said to me in a rage. I hear those words in my head. It's not too late, but it will be soon.

With all that said, parenting is absolutely the most difficult and frustrating thing I have ever done. I waited to have a kid until I was stabilized on meds for 10 years, which put me in my late 30s. I was that afraid.

And I am quite sure that without yelling or name-calling, I have hurt my own kid. So I am not judging you. I'm just saying: time is short.

Anonymous said...

Could have almost been me. My 3 year old will stutter for 2-3 days after I've yelled at her and/or handled her roughly. It only happens every few months but I HATE myself for scaring her.

Anonymous said...

You do need to get help, and I hope you have done that. You say "You do NOT throw a tantrum and scream and cry!" but you are behaving in the same way when you don't like what he does. Just something to think about.