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Am I normal...or is this like my mother? (A bit long sorry)

(23 Posts)
MyFirstName Wed 12-Mar-14 09:54:41

I am currently having some counselling to deal with some "stuff". One of the things that has come out of this is a lot of my people-pleasing/anxiety stems from the fact my mother used to have really sudden "rages" about stuff. Suddenly blow up about minor things (washing not being put away for example). Mum's rages would largely be directed at my DSis..and often take the form of her hitting DSis. I was the favoured child - the anger - or rage - would rarely be directed at me. I just had to watch it. My way of coping as well would be just to do the thing making mum mad..put the washing away, tidy the cushions - what ever. As my counsellor pointed out, I spent a lot of my childhood feeling frightened and anxious about mum's rages. And guilt that they were rarely directed at me.

So, anyhoo....just a bit of background there so you understand why I want to ask my question. Following the realisation that yes, it was bloody frightening sometimes growing up with these rages, I thought that I never want my children to have that fear of me. Actually makes me sick just thinking of it. And of course it starts you analysing and thinking. And wondering which bits of you you need to be aware of. Which bits of me do I need to "fix".

I know I can shout sometimes. I think most parents do at one time or another. And like most parents I would really, really like not too have to shout. I do have other strategies - counting, making things funny, calm repeating, reward systems etc. And use these on a fairly regular/successful basis. Very occasionally I need to use a time out too. So I try (and mostly) succeed in never parenting like my mother. But my DCs are 5yo and 8yo at the moment. My mother worst behaviour was when we were early teens.

What I am here for really (and sorry is so long) is to find out if what goes on internally - inside me - is normal. Because despite what happens with me biting my tongue, taking a breath and counting etc inside I do get really cross with them sometimes. And one of the things that took me to counselling was how I was feeling - if my anxiety levels rise generally I become more shouty. I get cross/angry internally more often. And I just realised that sometimes I get a bit of a "rage" too. You see your 5yo DS still not dressed - and "ARGGGGG - Will you get ON with it". So a shout is as bad as it gets. But - my body tenses and my teeth grit. Just a little bit. Not Hulk-like. But it is a physical "anger". IYSWIM.

Is this fleeting rage just me? Is it part of my upbringing? Is this because of my mother if you like? Or are these little flashes quite normal and we all have them. It is how we deal with them that is important? Do you get them? Do I have to be super aware as they are not normal?

kingbeat23 Wed 12-Mar-14 10:00:36

I get this. I raged at my DD yesterday because after 8 times of asking her to get dressed she was still rolling around on my bed whining that her hair was tickling her back. I shouted and then didn't feel very nice about it.

I have been known to shut myself away in the kitchen and talk to myself so I can let the anger pass. I don't know if this is a good thing or not, maybe it's a sign of detachment? I don't know.

I realise this might not be the answer you were looking for grin but at least we know we're not alone and someone else can give us some better managing and coping strategies to help not get us to that point!

MyFirstName Wed 12-Mar-14 10:07:11

Actually it is kind of the answer I am looking for. Before I started the counselling I thought that having the old "rage" was totally understandable and normal - they can be infuriating things these DCs grin. But I suppose the counselling has made me worry I am the only one that feels it. (Counselling still very raw - not dealt with the fall out yet - that is no doubt for the next few sessions)

Detachment at a time of "rage" is probably a good thing?

HotDAMNlifeisgood Wed 12-Mar-14 10:13:55

Perhaps focus on the fact that you control your feelings of rage, and have developed a range of alternative strategies to shouting.

That's really something to be proud of.

Sounds to me like you're looking to beat yourself up over your feelings. I think you should instead be proud of your actions.

Mygoldfishrocks Wed 12-Mar-14 10:16:22

You're over thinking this - but of course there are extremely compelling reasons why you're doing so!

I am well known for not having a temper. I rarely get angry and am usually on a very even keel.

However I also have two children aged 15 and 7. Do I shout at them? Yes sometimes. It's very very normal when you've gone through a cycle of gritted teeth, repeated requests, being nice etc etc to suddenly snap ' that's enough! Do this immediately or I will really lose my temper! ' and that's usually enough to make them snap to it!

You are entirely normal and children do cause that sudden flash of irritation / anger in you that's over as soon as it began. There is nothing wrong with letting kids know where your line is and when they cross it.

You are nothing like your mother was. You've already broken the cycle because you're so aware of it. Continue as you are, using your techniques just like the rest of us. And if you occasionally raise your voice because they're stepping out of line ... So be it.

Mygoldfishrocks Wed 12-Mar-14 10:18:45

And yes, the physical feelings are normal. You're pissed off and you're annoyed. As you know, they pass and ease. Until the next time. And then they pass and ease again.

And I speak as someone who considers herself mild mannered and non shouty. We ALL feel this way sometimes

nearlyreadyforstatelyhomes Wed 12-Mar-14 10:31:51

Hello myfirstname

Your post really resonated with me. I've just this second posted on the stately homes thread about how the fact that I can largely deal with my own DM being "difficult" (not convinced she's a full on narc yet) but that what I'm struggling with is how much of her is in me. Am I like I am because I learnt it from her, or is it just my personality, but then why is my personality like that?

I guess it's natural that we subconciously learn by example, and whilst we might not have liked what we grew up with it was still normal to us and without seeing how other people handle situations, how would we then know to handle a situation any differently? Well I suppose as we get older we realise we don't want to make our children feel the same so try conciously to do something different.

I'm waffling a bit but I suppose I'm saying you're not alone in this on many fronts. I get cross with DD (she's 2yo) and she gets really upset and I feel horrific. My DM also rages/rants but my underlying memory of how I felt as a kid was just that she was always cross or frustrated or unhappy or stressed or tired. That or showing off and making it all about her. I do not want my DD to feel the same. But I also think it's perfectly normal for your children to drive you insane. My best friend has a wonderful relationship with her parents and was bought up in a calm, normal household, and she gets The Rage with her kids. All kids can wind parents up but I think what hotdamn says is so true - how you act/react speaks volumes, particularly if internally your feelings are driving you to something else!

So overall I think you're acting fine and it sounds like the counselling will help you work through this and other feelings. I'm not brave enough for counselling yet, though appreciate it something that I should probably do.

Best of luck smile

MyFirstName Wed 12-Mar-14 16:22:27

Thank you everyone.

Yes - I am overthinking things grin - and have been/will be for the next few weeks I suppose whilst the counselling things to the fore.

I am grateful for the answers. I can now put those flashes of rage in the "normal" box. And as HotDamn says, concentrate on the fact my actions do not reflect the rage. My mother's rage was just acted out so, so differently. I can, do and will act differently.

And nearlyready...I may join you on that thread at some point. Not sure if what I went through was that bad - mostly my childhood was pretty cool. But I can recommend counselling. Not just CBT - something a bit more to help you understand/name your emotions. Knowing I am acting irrationally - that there is no need to be anxious - has helped me fuck all in the past. Understanding why I am anxious...because I am reverting back to the fear of an angry mother...now that...that has been a lightbulb moment. Door opening. Horrible but wonderful. wonders if she can get anymore clichéd statements in. I am early days yet - but I would recommend taking the step. It took me years of thinking I would probably benefit. flowers

MyFirstName Wed 12-Mar-14 16:43:03

brings thing to the fore.

struggling100 Wed 12-Mar-14 16:44:48

You sound completely and utterly normal to me! Snapping a bit, yelling occasionally are not the same thing as flying into a towering rage over nothing.

You don't have to be perfect to avoid being like your mum.

nearlyreadyforstatelyhomes Wed 12-Mar-14 17:42:16

myfirstname I'm not sure I am totally entitled to be on the stately homes thread either - no physical abuse or even particularly obvious emotional abuse, it's all very very subtle which constantly makes me question whether I'm being over sensitive. But I know something isn't right. When I playback stuff from years ago and recently, be it blazing rows or subtle comments, I know that those things aren't normal. And everyone over on that thread is v friendly and helpful. Plus it's not a competition so if you feel ready come over. Thanks also for the encouragement re counseling, I made it as far as the BCAP website today!!

Sounds like you're ok the right tracks anyway. I think being aware of how you come across is at least half the battle. I'm sure you're a wonderful mother actually smile.

MyFirstName Wed 12-Mar-14 20:15:12

nearly I did pretty much the same. Made sure they were psychotherapists as well as counsellors (so BACP). Then I discounted any I didn't like the look of, or their wording on their profile (I did not analyse why - may be shallow - but just went for gut instinct). Checked out what they did. Avoided "sex therapists" grin and just looked for someone who resonated. I called one. She got my hackles up (nothing she did). Called another and that is is. I have really, simply gone with instinct.

Good luck with whatever you do.

flowers

justpaddling Wed 12-Mar-14 22:41:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GarlicMarchHare Thu 13-Mar-14 01:29:26

Not at all sure you need this comment, MyFirst, but just for any readers who can use it ... Emotions tend to feel overwhelming when we're afraid of them. This is often because the emotion triggers embedded feelings - patterns of thought & behaviour - from the past. There can be other reasons for it, too. The point is that we feel the emotion is 'bad' or threatening, so we try to suppress it or get rid of it. This has the unfortunate effect of "Don't think of a penguin!" (if you're a Fawlty Towers fan, "Don't mention the war!") By focusing on not being angry, we make it our central issue and, of course, get all wound up in it. Whether we explode or not, it ends badly for us as we feel we've been in a battle with ourselves.

Emotions can't be 'bad' or 'good'. They just are what they are - hormone spikes put out by the nervous system in response to something it perceived as a danger signal. No worries: some days this system will save your life, and your child's. You still have a conscious mind, though, and it's in pretty good harmony with your unconscious one. It can make a nano-second appraisal of whether the trigger calls for action. Child in path of speeding car? Act! Child whining about sandwich? Nah wink You will still feel the hormone spike, but that doesn't mean anything as you're not in actual danger this minute. It's just your nervous system doing what they do.

Your brain's already figured out whether action is needed, before you even feel the emotion. What causes inappropriate outbursts is the muddle of moral judgements around it - hate or fear your own feelings, and how does your nervous system react? With another series of spikes, obviously!
So ... the trick is just to let them wash through you. They're not 'bad' feelings, or 'wrong'. They're just what they are - okay, and don't require a response or you'd already have acted.

Retiring to another room is a very good strategy whilst you're just learning this - you can do a bit of calm breathing, distract yourself and feel better. Breathing is ace. So is counting. After a bit, you'll find you can just say "I feel angry/annoyed/anxious" in a perfectly normal voice, as a perfectly sound observation on what you're feeling. Sometimes I say Ouch, or Grr, or (often) Argh ... actually, I tend to swear but that's just a bad habit!

Now mindfulness has made its way into the mainstream, it's probably OK to share this ... I learned to just 'watch' my emotions going through, thinking to myself in a mildly interested way: Ooh, anger, that got triggered by her tone of voice ... Hmm, this feels like fear, never mind, nothing to be scared of here ... and so on. I'm far from perfect; this may be a lifetime project for me - but I can safely say I've not raged since the day I started, and never will again. It's worth it smile

GarlicMarchHare Thu 13-Mar-14 01:29:51

Blimey, that was long! Sorry.

nearlyreadyforstatelyhomes Thu 13-Mar-14 06:09:37

garlic that's really interesting, I think I get it. So it's basically about separating how something makes you feel with how you react to it? Acknowledge the emotion then choose to act differently or not let it control how you act?

Lweji Thu 13-Mar-14 07:03:50

To be honest, I suspect you end up concentrating too much on the anger and rage issue.
Why not take a positive approach?

What happens if they don't get dressed? In my house, if DS doesn't get dressed he goes in his pjs. Or we do a race. I often end up shouting when we are getting ready, but more in an encouraging tone than an angry tone.
If something is spilled, he has to clean it. (he's 9)

Yes, I get angry and I do shout occasionally, but it's not very common and if I notice I start getting shouty, I take stock and revise what I'm doing and why.

MyFirstName Thu 13-Mar-14 08:08:33

Thank you. This is all Fab stuff. Yes I think the fear (and anxiety) which is triggered by the rage noe has a name/understanding of the cause. So I can see myself (hopefully) being in a place where I can think "Yes, that is anger. Caused by the faffing despite 100reminders (or whatever). Anger/rage is OK and my wave of anxiety is not necessary. No-one is going to end up being beaten up on the floor.I do not hit. Mum is not here. I am not mum."

MyFirstName Thu 13-Mar-14 08:12:04

Just paddling..sounds like a similar upbringing to my DH. He now hates confrontation too and tries to avoid at all costs. I think children do need to see anger. But anger resolved healthily. Anger with love. Without violence. Aiming for the happy middle seems the ideal here. Thank you for reminding me that no anger can be unhealthy too!

nearlyreadyforstatelyhomes Thu 13-Mar-14 08:24:27

Have you read How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk?

I found it really interesting - one thing that stuck in my head was that a key thing is to not dismiss your childrens feelings and actually think about why they feel like that. In fact, I think the book has some useful ideas for communicating with people in general, not just kids. It's an interesting read anyway I thought.

MyFirstName Thu 13-Mar-14 09:38:57

Over the last few years I have read many books in an attempt to "fix" myself grin. And to give me strategies which did not involve turning into my mother. Just putting off the counseling maybe? But I agree, the "How to talk"book has some great ideas in it. I only read it a couple of months ago and I feel it is/has already helped open up communication at MyFirstName Towers.

GarlicMarchHare Thu 13-Mar-14 13:25:13

Mum is not here. I am not mum.

- This is brilliant! smile

Yes, I'm a big fan of "How to talk" as well. Agreed, it helps with all sorts of communication, not only kids.

nearlyreadyforstatelyhomes Thu 13-Mar-14 14:26:32

I'm too wimpy to get the other books. Plus part of me thinks that they are for people whose parents are complete monsters and I can't put DM in that category.

OP I'm really sorry you've been doubting and questioning yourself so much, that's such a confusing and destructive place to be, yet really difficult to get out of. Well done for putting the wheels in motion to feel good, as you well deserve to.

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