Anger Management

In church on Sunday, we had a lesson that I can’t remember now. I was dutifully finishing my project of finding an anagram of my full name, which I’ve been working on for a little while. It’s so hard to make an anagram that makes sense grammatically. Anyway, there was one part of the lesson that prompted a response from the woman who was sitting next to me, with whom I differ greatly in the area of personal faith. She is sure she has found the truth, and follows instructions to the letter, even if she thinks they’re stupid. She believes that her obedience is a symbol of her love for God, and doesn’t think it’s important to find out why some rules are in place, or even if they’re really rules, or simply cultural traditions. She’s not stupid, and she has given this considerable thought. Her husband, a man who converted after they were married and she decided to go back to church, feels the same way.

This woman began her comment with an explanation of how frustrated she gets when she is angry, because she reacts with rage, with loss of control. Other women in the group nodded, a few commenting on the same lines. I stopped my anagram, because I was so surprised at all these seemingly mild-mannered women, who apparently thought of themselves as having anger-management problems.

Many of the women talked about how hard it was, especially with small children who don’t react in reasonable ways. One woman brought up the fact that when she is feeling uncontrollable rage, it’s generally because she is not prepared to deal with the situation. If something comes up that throws a wrench in her plans, or if a child is behaving irrationally, then she gets easily frustrated and gives up trying, and yells instead.

I was so grateful to have been there for this discussion. I have been trying on and off to control my anger, most especially with my wonderful little kids, and I have felt like such a circus freak. I know we never see each other at our worst, I mean, who screams at their kids when they have friends over? Yet I find such comfort in the fact that so many women in the same room professed to have the same weakness as I. It makes me feel so much more normal, more a part of the group, instead of an outsider looking in.

I never knew I had such a small store of patience, until I had kids. That’s the ultimate cliche, that you have kids to learn patience, but it is really true. My husband told me before we were married that he never got mad, but our kids have sure proved him wrong.

It is so heartening to find out that it’s not just families with a history of chemical imbalance that have a hard time staying calm. It’s not just my family. Other people have been through it, and have learned over the years (years!) how to remain calm, and react with love and patience. It can be an acquired skill, it can become a strength.

I just wonder if all the stress-related ailments I have will go away after I learn how to be peaceful.

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~ by woundedhart on November 28, 2007.

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