So to say that last week was tough in our family would be the understatement of the year. I don’t know if it is the early onslaught of winter, the fact Michael had a few nights where sleep wasn’t good, or his high blood sugar, but let’s just say that after handling about five nights of Michael blowing up in anger with little bits of my anger coming through, by Sunday I was mentally and physically wiped out. I was upset at myself that I’d let myself get worn out from redirecting his anxiety and aggression to the point where I opted out of family activities and sought complete solitude
That was not a bad thing, but seeking this out when we were are exhausted is not healthy. I didn’t even want music on in my house and that is not me, unless I count my burnout five years ago. Then I didn’t want to see people, hear music or participate in life. I hunkered down in my house and didn’t even write much. Thankfully I came through that phase with the help of finally releasing my anger in a positive way, and talking about it to professionals, family and good friends.
So this is why I think anger is a good thing. It’s an emotion like any other. I spent most of my life fearing anger. My own and other people’s. I thought it made me an uncaring person if I showed it. As a result, I developed a lot of unhealthy ways of coping with anger up until my late thirties. Michael has fallen into that same trap. I am trying to teach him to acknowledge his anger by not lashing out, but by letting himself feel the emotion, then coping by deep breathing, squeezing something, jumping it out on his trampoline, taking time alone to listen to soft music, or even ripping up paper. That seemed to work the other day as he unleashed his emotions in his room. I remember an art teacher in high school showing this to the class.
Anger is a good thing as it helps us recognize what is off in ourselves or in our child. Anger helps us connect to what changes we need to make to find balance again. Sometimes it means getting away from people. Sometimes it means seeking them out. Sometimes, more commonly, it is a mixture of the two things. Another good thing is that anger helps us learn what we need to fix. I like what our educator told Michael a few weeks ago. I often think of this too from my days of therapy. All human beings need to feel all emotions. It’s not normal to be happy all the time or sad or hyper. We need balance. Anger adds to that balance, and helps us appreciate when things start going right.
So as bad as I felt last weekend hunkering down, I realized this was not me pre-depression. This was the me who got a little off track, and was practicing what I preach to Michael. Let yourself feel what you are feeling, work through it, release it, move on. I took the day to write, take a long nature walk, and then spend some time with my cat. In the evening, I took a long bubble bath. Monday morning I was recharged, and I was reminded what I will do differently the next time frustration and anger start to build. I will take mini breaks. I am reminding Michael of this lesson too. He taught me what I need to do for myself, and now I was returning the favor. We both learn from one another.
Exceptional Parents, do you feel that anger is something you have made work for you and your child? Obviously , extreme anger is dangerous and needs outside help, but as long as your child and you have a healthy way to release anger and angry emotions, you will be able to get through even the toughest periods in your family life and become stronger for it. Until next time.