‘I was furious about a dirty dish in the sink, because of the rages my mother used to go into. Rages that lasted hours, and resulted in things said she could never take back in a million years.’

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“Getting over the anger, resentment, maddening frustration, and all of the other negative emotions was the very hardest part of healing from childhood for me- and it took years because I simply didn’t understand why I felt the way I did. I found that I had to DIG into every part of my memory, as if I were digging to China.

‘What am I so furious about?’, was the question that bounced around my mind far too often- and I had no answer. Rage made a home in me. I would get livid and sharp tongued when I cleaned the kitchen for 2 hours just to find a simple cup in the sink after leaving the room for just 10 minutes, and for what? It was always so trivial, it wasn’t normal to feel that level of emotion, and I knew it.

‘Why is this brush on the counter, and who spilled something wet here? For the love of kittens, can’t ANYONE put their shoes by the door, or put a new bag in the trash can?!’ Much of my inner dialogue was even self-inflicted or projected onto complete strangers for simple human error.

‘Why can’t I accomplish X, Y, and Z?!’

‘Why can’t this random driver park like any less of a caveman?’

‘Why is this woman walking so slow?’

‘WHY DO I HAVE ADULT STRESS ACNE?!’

That last question seems comical now.

This this was my inner dialogue around the clock for years- constant agitation with every single thing. I fought so very hard to conceal it, and honestly most of the time it was just inner turmoil with the occasional escape from my lips, but inside I felt like I couldn’t even enjoy my life because I was always just- chronically ticked off, even when I had a smile on my face. None of it was seemingly related to childhood whatsoever but truthfully it was so tangled in that it was unrecognizable. It wasn’t even visible under the mess of my wiring.

Your anger may not be born from childhood- it may be born out of any toxic relationship, divorce, loss, whatever leaves you feeling unheard or alone for an extended period of time. What I do know is that my anger was grief of a million things, and that grief all boiled down to a whole lot of love with nowhere to go. I didn’t know how to give it to myself.

The number 1 best medicine for me has been validation, both from other survivors, and most importantly, from myself. I had to validate my feelings on the BIG hurts in my life, so that the small things weren’t magnified out of proportion.

There is such a thing as righteous anger, and if you’re a survivor of abuse or neglect that’s exactly what you have. You are allowed to, and even encouraged be angry while getting to the root of your story. Just make sure that you’re angry WHILE processing, and not angry because of pent up avoidance.

I learned that I was furious about a single dirty dish in the sink after cleaning, because of the rages my mother used to go into over the same. Rages that lasted hours and resulted in things said that she could never take back in a million years.

I learned that my fuse was short with my family because why? Because what does a long fuse even look like? Is there such a thing? Could I lengthen mine?

I learned that I was furious with other drivers on the road because road rage is what was modeled for me. Oh, there are people in the world who don’t throw their hands up at a stranger who makes an error in the parking lot? Wow. Shocking.

I learned that I felt furious with my own shortcomings, because when had they ever been met with gentle support, or understanding by my birth giver? Oh, that’s right, never.

I learned that ALL of the things I stayed angry around the clock for were because I had never experienced any of my previous years with peace attached to any part of life. I’m sure you’re picking up what I’m laying down by now. How could you possibly expect yourself to live in harmony with life, when you don’t even know what that’s supposed to look like? I’m here to tell you that you have to create it for yourself. All I can say is try to see through the emotion to the root of it, so you can recognize it, honor it, and then make a conscious effort to practice the pause and REWRITE YOUR LIFE one single instance at a time. I know it seems like a mountain to take on, but the beautiful thing is that once I started practicing the pause, I was able to decompress individual things just once, and almost instantly take the edge off of whatever the issue it is, shrinking the anger to molehills, and after practice I’ve gotten to watch each summit turn into speed bumps that I can skip over with ease.

The first time I called my son back into the kitchen to please help mommy and rinse his cup because she worked SO hard cleaning, he giggled and crawled up on the stool to take care of it, and something that held a firm grip DEEP within me settled like magic.

Then I found myself picking up my husband’s work boots and thought, ‘Man, he works so hard and has loved me through so much nitpicking that he didn’t deserve, the least I can do is this.’, and in that very moment the boots changed to gratitude on the floor. (Although, I may still curse out loud if I ever trip over them at night, I am flawed after all.)

I have even learned that it’s possible to ask my spouse and child to fix things, without a bad attitude attached. (What?! That’s a thing?) Yes, it is.

My point is just that you are not broken or defective, and you absolutely can fix this. I have walked this road right alongside you, no matter how alone you have felt in it. Some of the bigger issues have taken repetitive mental effort from me to pause and process the why and get a grip on my tone before my voice hits the air- but they do get a little less upsetting every single time I tackle them. So please don’t be discouraged if it takes time and effort, try to remember that you are literally erasing the past.

My constant state of tension has truly melted into warmth and gentleness that I didn’t even know I had in me- and it just keeps growing, swallowing up the bad like a sunrise swallows the sky from darkness to light. Rewriting history one moment at a time has allowed me to actually spend more time enjoying life, and much less time spent dwelling in the pits of rage, and the regret or guilt that follows that kind of seething anger like a lost puppy.

I’m still working on certain things- and very well may be rewriting my reactions to the world around me until the day I die, but thankfully I’m actually to a point that I can enjoy my life with more peace than chronic anger, and that is absolutely enough for me. In fact, I never imagined it could be a reality.

It can be yours too.”

Courtesy Hayley Runnels

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Hayley Runnels of The Undone Mama. Follow her on Instagram here. Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.

Read more from Hayley here:

‘Here am I, leaving my house for prom. Yes, MY house I shared with a roommate. I had no one to zip me up. I wrestled with my dress for half an hour, finally getting it zipped with a coat hanger.’

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