I come from a family of yellers. One might not be surprised that having alcoholics for parents and loud family arguments kind of go hand in hand. It wasn't until I was 30 something that I put 2 and 2 together and understood why so many family dinners dissolved into screaming and fighting and crying. As a child I also couldn't figure out why the arguments always went so wrong; I was constantly misunderstood and consequently constantly defending myself. I developed a deep emotional wound that even the smallest misunderstanding could trigger and send me into paroxysms of explaining and apologizing until I would hopefully be 'let off the hook' by those I offended.
My husband comes from a quiet family. Now admittedly, this may have been in reaction to their own family histories. Grandma on one side was known for dish throwing and temper, my guess is she wasn't quiet about it either. So her child naturally was drawn to a quiet person who dealt with their feelings in a calm way. Oh heck, my mother in law never gets above a 5 on the loudness meter even when at her angriest.
My husband chose me, however, so this aversion to emotionally demonstrative and slightly verbally intense women seems to skip a generation now and then. I instantly felt out of place in their house when I went for the aforementioned grandma's funeral, I was the bull in the china shop. My family would have feelings all over the place, including the good ones like funny stories about the deceased. Here I felt like I was in a monastery, which is emphatically not where I fit in.
However, I loved the peace and silence at times. I've written before about christmas in this family and how delightful a drama free season was (well, as drama free as it could be since my mom knows how to dial a phone,) and how I relished the safety of a home like that. Now it doesn't mean that people weren't thinking things I suppose but it sure seemed like a judgement free atmosphere and certainly no one yelled. Ever.
Except me. The funny thing is that I only have to raise my voice 2 levels to be accused of yelling by my husband. I often pause in confusion thinking, I wasn't yelling? You wanna hear yelling? But the main point of this essay is my feelings on yelling at my children. Good God, does anyone really WANT to yell at their children? There are long conversations in my triplet online group about our guilt that our triplets regularly push us so far with their behavior that we end up yelling at them. Half the time it has more to do with our tiredness or our being sick more than them really behaving any differently than usual, but those with children will agree that some days? Those kids are just full of terrifying ideas.
And they seem to hone in on when you're vulnerable due to some other trauma going on in your life and really sock it to ya that day. And you could have your best poker face on and be singing along with them when they decide to just say no to everything you say or ignore you or pick on a sibling until you are a roiling ball of rage with veins popping out all over while you shriek like some lunatic about what the heck is wrong with them anyway?
And when you're yelling you tend to say things that you really never meant to say. Things your parents used to say to you: "Why are you doing this to ME?" "What is your problem?" and "Why are you being so bad?" Those may seem minor but to a kid who isn't always sure that you love them all the time no matter what it can be poison. It can seep into their souls and convince them that there IS something 'wrong' with them. That there's some horrible side of them that makes them a bad child and that deep down inside there is some dark part of them that no one would love.
Or at least that's what happened with me, so I can't let it happen again. Mommy needs to take more time outs. Kids respect time out. Kids might learn something about being a grown up or how to control their own anger by watching mommy take a moment to calm herself instead of screaming whatever comes into her head. This, of course, is way harder than one might think. The rage is like lightening for me, one minute I'm handling the children calmly and rationally and the next the control line has snapped and I'm grabbing and spitting and yowling like a rabid cat. My own rage from childhood even feeds into the lack of control because I'm recognizing that I am not in control and my being their mother is not 'good enough.' Just like the way I was not in control as a daughter and never a 'good enough' daughter.
It's amazing and terrifying. I want to be a loving role model to my children and have a house of peace, not crazy drama like my own childhood. I am not an addict, so that's a step in the right direction, now I've got to get my rage under control. It is not fair to visit the sins of my father (and mother) upon my children. Thank god I'm already in therapy.