I had a freak out this past weekend. I have a bad temper that only my husband and kids are “blessed” to witness. I’m ashamed to admit that. I yell. I throw things. I get over-the-top angry. I storm around, slamming doors and locking myself in the bathroom. Better to be locked behind a door with everyone else on the outside. I can’t hurt anyone’s feelings in there. I cry it out. I wash my face. My anger simmers down. And I come out, embarrassed.
I truly hate those angry flare ups. In the moment I’m certain that I’m right to have anger. It just seems to right. I have a point, damn it. Why do I have to yell, shout, cry and get MAD just to express myself?! I guess I don’t. Nobody HAS to get mad. But it feels like the right thing to do in the moment. Until afterwards, of course. When the dust settles and I realize that I truly freaked out and usually don’t even remember what it was that I was flipping out about.
A Little Bit Crazy
Sometimes I think I have a bit of a crazy streak and it scares me. Crazy tempers tend to run in the family. I’ve heard the stories and they aren’t pretty. My mom, wanting to break the pattern, used to scream, “Get out of the house!” when she was mad at me. She didn’t want to resort to spanking so it was better for her to make me leave. And I would, running out the front door to escape, letting the screen door slam behind me.
Knowing my mom now, the calm grandma who regularly has upwards of 5 kids in her house at one time, it’s hard to see the temper. I can’t remember the last time I saw her “crazy” surface. With time her temper has faded, with calm and patience smoothing over the crazy cracks.
I worry that the crazy temper has painted me in a unflattering light for my husband. He’s got a bit of the crazy in him (he’ll freely admit that, I’m not letting any skeletons out of the closet there). But it seems that when I’m around him lately every small slight becomes a major offense in my eyes. Every comment he makes to me is taken as a slap in the face. I’m challenged to breath deep and give myself internal time outs. But I’m struggling and it feels wrong to let everything go when in the moment, I’m hurting. In the moment, I feel like the wild animal that just needs to roar.
Why Do I Allow That Behavior?
I worry even more that my temper is becoming normal for my kids to witness. Would I ever let my kids stomp off, muttering unflattering words? Would I let my kids storm away from the table and lock themselves in the bathroom? Would I tell my kids it was okay to scream frustrations at the top of their lungs?
Nope. Not once would I ever let that sort of behavior slide from my kids. And yet, they witness Mom doing these things on the regular. It turns my stomach thinking about it and I hope it’s not too late. I pray that they haven’t picked up lifelong issues from seeing my temper flare in front of them.
I love my children. I love my husband. And I’m pretty sure that I’m not certifiably crazy. I’m totally able to control my temper when I need to. I don’t know why some days I’m a saint of patience around my family and other days I’m a caged tiger let loose, fangs flashing. Hormones? Pent up frustration? Who knows.
For many who know me and have never seen a speck of temper flare up in me, that’s proof – I am in control of my mood. So why do I feel so “comfortable” with my children and husband, those I love the most, that I would allow them to witness such a nasty side of me?
Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. -James 1:19
Oh boy. That’s a hard one to take in. Nobody’s off the hook on that one – “Let every person”, He says. He doesn’t say anything about those who were offended, that it’s okay then to lash out. He doesn’t excuse moms who get mad when their husbands diss their cooking or the kids are misbehaving. He says, “Every person”.
Quick to Hear
Hearing isn’t the problem. I hear it all. I hear too much, in fact. I let what was actually said develop its own personality and twist into something totally different.
When I hear my husband say, “I saw some moms running together at the trail today”. What my brain processed was, “I saw moms running. Why aren’t you running? You should run, too. What’s stopping you from running? If you were running, maybe you’d be in better shape. Julie, I don’t respect you because you walk instead of run. Why did I ever marry a girl who doesn’t run?” My mind literally jumped from that simple comment to the commentary in my head and I could feel the burn of outrage flaring inside me.
Perhaps for me, “Quick to hear” should be hearing only what is said and not elaborating or embellishing in between the lines.
Slow to Speak
Notice “Slow to speak” comes before anger. Because if we carefully construct our words and take the time before speaking, the anger probably won’t develop at all. I feel like I very rarely stop before speaking. Perhaps it’s because I’m the mom of four and the chatter is astounding at times. I often feel like I’m having to talk above it, louder and faster to be heard. But I don’t think I’m being heard even with that tactic.
Perhaps not speaking at all will “speak volumes” instead? Maybe I need to learn to hold my tongue and let what it only truly mulled and processed release into speech.
Slow to Anger
I’m praying that by training myself on the first two points, anger will be slow to come or will not develop at all. I truly pray that the anger I’ve been feeling, that the madness, the crazy side of me fades into something that used to happen. And that all traces of “mom’s freak out” will be a thing of the past, not something that my children remember as life shaping.
I don’t think it’s too late to make amends on this. I don’t think it’s ever too late to make changes when you really want to. I’m so well loved. Even if my temper does flare occasionally. I’m well loved, even if I am a little bit crazy.