I have always felt emotions unusually strong, strangely deep. I think in feelings. I sometimes have more feelings about a situation than words to explain it. And when I was little, I got very overwhelmed by these feelings. If someone was doing or saying something I didn’t like, (especially if they didn’t stop after me asking “nicely,”) my first reaction was to get angry. If I felt I needed something my mom couldn’t magically make appear that second, I got angry. If I got too excited and someone didn’t share my enthusiasm, I got sad, and then I got angry. Anger was my default emotion.
Feeling angry wasn’t the problem. The real issue was that as my emotions started to swirl, taking over my whole body, the only way I thought I could fix the situation was to yell, scream, punch things and break things. So I did. Almost every day. And I couldn’t get myself to stop. I couldn’t figure out how to calm down or not get worked up in the first place. I didn’t want to hurt people, but I was so good at it. And it was easier than calming down.
This isn’t something I am proud of at all. I had some pretty dark days. Those who didn’t know about the anger thought I was an angel and wanted me to marry their sons. Those who knew what I was like at home thought I was a monster and made quite sure I knew it.
What I am proud of is that I eventually figured out how to process and be in charge of my emotions.
I didn’t do it alone. My family helped me get it.
I’m not perfectly self-regulated: I’m still impatient and sometimes need to remind myself of childhood lessons learned. But I know I can do it. I know I am not that angry child. I can choose to be happy instead of letting negative emotions conquer. I can choose to feel sadness or frustration without hurting those around me. I now know I have control over my reactions to emotions, my emotions don’t have control over me.
I’m in a vulnerable place, telling the uglier parts of my story. But I am here. Not still in the place of the monster child, but here, where I understand those kids, where I can help them.
They are not really monsters, they are strong souls who will learn and grow. On days you’re ready to lock your child in their room for the night (or maybe check yourself into a hotel), come here. I’ll help you see what they’re going through. I’ll help you see that you’re doing an amazing thing, raising that child. If you feel like you’re the monster child, the demon adult, I’m here for you too. Don’t give up.
Like I said, every child, every adult, every human is different. I know each person is overwhelmed and calmed in different ways. I don’t know your child but I know you do. And I know that by sharing what helped change me over time, you and I can find what works for your situation.
It’s time to let my secrets out. My secret failures and triumphs. It’s time to listen to the heart of the monster child and make the connection to the strong soul inside.