I have verbally destroyed strangers on the phone because I thought they disrespected me.
I have seen friends look at me with a strange wonder because what they heard come from my mouth was so opposite of who I am on a normal day.
I have created moments in relationships when friends have been afraid to say something I didn’t like for fear of how I would respond.
I have ached in the depths of my heart for all the facts listed above. I have felt both at a loss and as a victim to part of my own self — a piece of me I have fought to understand and be in command of. But I haven’t been in command. It has snuck up on me when I have had a bad day or am sad, or something out of my control happens. It has come like a stilled lava beginning to heat up. I have tried to control it. Pray. Ask the Lord for guidance. Hide in my room if I could until it subsided, until there was no heat.
Life doesn’t always make room for hiding away, though, and I have found myself raging against anything and everything. I know I am probably painting myself as someone who needs anger management — I’ve never been violent or verbally abused other people. However, I have taken what I saw as truth and highlighted it in way to hurt people’s feelings. I would speak sharply and without compassion. In the moment I would not care about the other person’s heart or feelings. I was focused on myself being right and creating what I thought was safety.
It wasn’t until two months ago, at the age of thirty-three, I was finally able to conquer this rage inside. I finally figured out what it was. You wanna know??
IT WAS ME!
It was the four year old me. It was the little person who believed that she was looked over, not important, and un-heard. All that rage, unkindness, and verbal bashing…that was a temper tantrum! It was the four year old inside of me trying to be heard…trying to protect herself.
What I’ve realized is that the only person who can control that four year old is me. The only person who can raise that four year old is me. The only person who can stop the temper-tantrum’s is me. All these years I put that fear and powerlessness outward. I raged against my friends, I raged against my family, I raged against pastors and bosses. I needed people to be perfect in their relationship with me, or I would inevitably get hurt and a temper-tantrum would ensue.
As I look at that four year old today, from the aspect of managing her, my heart is a bit broken for the wake of pain I’ve left behind. I know the family and friends who stand with me today have moved on. But I so wish I had understood much sooner what it was going inside of me. I wish I could take back all the moments of verbally laying people to waste because they did it “the wrong” way. I wish that four year old version of myself had not been in charge for all of those years.
Today I don’t hide away in my room. I don’t walk it off. I don’t plead with the lava stirring beneath the surface. I simply take a moment and ask my four year old self what she is afraid of. I ask if I believe that I am being heard. I ask what the pain is. Then I make a plan about how I am going to take care of me…and I do it!
As I go about my day parenting my own children, I also parent myself. I want to be an example to them both of continual growth and teach them the skills they need to take care of themselves.
My hope is that they won’t spend years raging against the wrong machine. That they will know what they are afraid or what is hurting them and make a plan about what they are going to do about it. I want them to move on so that the wake they leave behind in life will be one of maturity and unconditional love.