Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

On Anger, and Relaxing Through It

“Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”

  • Aristotle

I close Facebook without reading notifications or messages. I’m so angry that it’s not until I use my hand to pick up a glass that I realize my fingernails have left white indents in my palms. I’m angry about pre-existing conditions mattering again.

About lives mattering when it feels like too many don’t.

I’m angry that a man who seems to have a heart filled with hate has replaced one who seems to have one full of love. That he wants an Education Secretary who doesn’t know anything about public schools, or special education, or IDEA

I find that I need to relax through my anger.

Years ago, I carried my anger around like a pet. When it shot daggers of feelings at those who deserved it, I pet her, gave her a special treat. I felt justified and believed my anger pet was helpful. Loyal.

I kept her, fed her, and found her early on each day. Sure, there were days when I neglected her. Forgot about her. But mostly, I watched her grow and grinned as she grew stronger.

I knew enough to keep her mostly hidden.

I knew enough to know that my other pet, a warm, fuzzy, and semi-psycho dog who barked at squirrels farting three blocks away was the pet the world might embrace a little better.

But still, I didn’t really know the truth of my anger pet until my dad accidentally saw her one night.

“We need to talk,” he said.

“Fine.”

“I know you’re angry, and you have a right to be,” he said.

“I’m not angry,” I replied, believing it.

“Okay. Well listen to me anyway,” he said.

“When we’re hurt, or pissed off, we carry anger around with us, thinking it hurts those who hurt us. We think being angry with somebody changes them. Makes them realize how foolish they were to be whatever it is they were with us.”

I didn’t say anything, but reached into my pocket, and stroked my pet.

“Here’s the thing,” he continued. “Carrying anger around is bullshit.”

I pulled my hand from my pocket, and stilled it on my lap.

“What do you mean?” I asked. I tried to not sound desperate or annoyed although I was both.

“I mean, you have anger in your heart, and you think holding it will hurt the person you direct it towards. But really, it only hurts you. The person you’re pissed off at is clueless, just living their life. It’s only you that anger hurts, because you’re the one carrying it.”

It took a couple of years, but eventually, I set that pet free. I left her off near the side of a stream in Colorado. We shook hands, and she jumped in and swam away, hollering back that I knew where to find her.

I found ways to relax when I wanted to call her home.

Sometimes, to relax, I read. I write, or I pace.

Other times, nothing works to relax.

Sometimes, simply pressing my lips to the soft space behind my son’s ear relaxes me.

Taking silly selfies usually works.

Other times, I need nothing less than holding him tight, or curling my body around his as he grows sleepy.

Sometimes, it’s hard to remember that relaxing is a thing. When our bodies buzz with the type of anger that shakes our hands and flushes our faces, relaxing is the last thing we think to do.

We want to hurt right back.

But that anger doesn’t hurt those who hurt us. I have to remember that. Today was a day I was already angry. We have a hateful man leading this country. He’s making horrible decisions. Ones I do not agree with. I’ve made phone calls, I’ve marched, I’ve… I’ve… I’ve… I’ve…

None of it feels like it makes enough of a difference. But humaning is still humaning and neighboring is still neighboring. 

Helping makes me feel seen.

And then today, in the car, while my seven-year-old sat next to him, this boy said “My birthday party’s tomorrow night!”

My breath caught. My son wasn’t invited.

I didn’t say much. I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation. 

The boy continued. “We’re going bowling and my guests will come to my house tomorrow after school!”

“Can I come?” my son asked.

“No,” the boy said.

And just like that, I was hurt and angry and embarrassed and sad and well, all the things you’d imagine being in that situation, I guess. I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation but when you’re seven… well. 

My little boy didn’t say anything. 

We got out of the car, waved goodbye, and I took my son to the Scout Shop. I knew he’d love looking at compasses and knives and tents.

We blasted My House by Flo Rida in the car. Bounced in our seats.

I could use some more relaxing though. My step-mom is having surgery tomorrow. My son had to go to the ER. Twice this week. He’s totally FINE now, but OMG, I need to relax.

Maybe, I should take up knitting. I hear it does wonders for the hands and for the heart. 

In the meantime, I think I’ll look at cute animal photos and snuggle up with my little boy. That always does the trick.

***

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. Tonight’s sentence is”When I need to relax…”
OR
“People need to relax/calm down about…”

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  • Emily - I think your dad’s advice is very wise…however, I know firsthand how incredibly hard it is to keep anger in check when it has to do with our child being left out (or teased or whatever it may be)…I have heard knitting is relaxing…January 26, 2017 – 10:22 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I wonder if knitting is fun… I’m not a very crafty person but maybe it’s time to check it out. And yeah, nothing like our kids getting whatever-it-is to bring out the inner beast in parents I suppose!January 27, 2017 – 12:50 pmReplyCancel

  • JY Walters - I have so been there and realize it is about me needing everyone to love my son. He does not require it because he does not love everyone.

    Tucker will be fine with it. As Mom’s we bare their scars.

    I think the world needs to calm down about the great divider politics and focus on loving each other. We do that and we have everyone beat. Managing from the bottom up.

    Anger is not a constructive emotion but it does help creativity. But I struggle with this too because I am passionate about the world.

    Love you but Tucker will be fine. You may have a stroke but Tucker is okay. Have a date with you Mickey glass! It heals many wounds!!January 26, 2017 – 10:35 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I like your idea of focusing on loving each other. That’s always a good good thing. And I know T will be fine… Cheers (from the Mickey glass!).January 27, 2017 – 12:51 pmReplyCancel

  • Allie G smith - Just take some deep breaths. I’m on a FB sabitical because it stresses me out way too much.January 27, 2017 – 6:55 amReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - Oh that no invite and how it played out stinks! At least it was one on one, a smaller blow, easier to roll off. Did Tucker bring it up again? Love your dad’s talk. That’s one of the things that we know deep down but it’s so clear when someone sits us down and to lay out truth so we can see it clearly.January 29, 2017 – 8:46 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Yeah, that invite decline was hard. It turned out to be less than a party and more of a sleep-over with a few preschool friends but still. Yikes. Tucker brought it up a few times but I think and hope he’s okay after I learned what was going on from the kid’s mom….
      and Yeah, we know about the anger but so need to remember that it only hurts us. I struggle with that a lot.January 29, 2017 – 10:25 pmReplyCancel

  • Rabia @ The Liebers - I am struggling with this too. I don’t want to turn off or ignore things, but I can’t stay this engaged and still function normally! I’m struggling to find the “happy” medium.January 30, 2017 – 4:03 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Here’s to each of us finding the happy medium. Sometimes so hard though right?January 31, 2017 – 10:50 pmReplyCancel

  • Dana - A big ouch to the party invite…helping our kids navigate friendships is one of the hardest parts of parenting.

    I get your anger – Matt asks me why I watch the news and get on FB if it just makes me agitated. I feel like I need to bear witness, and that my anger and frustration can be motivating. To a point, though. After that, as you say, it just hurts us. Ugh.January 31, 2017 – 3:11 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - UGH to the party invite. It sucked. I know what you mean about watching/not watching the news and FB. It’s like we have to know but knowing is very upsetting these days. I’m going to scream if DeVos isn’t stopped. Seriously. But she’s just the one thing I’m on right now. ALL of it is just horrifying. UGH is right. Lunch soon?January 31, 2017 – 10:54 pmReplyCancel

  • Out One Ear - Linda Atwell - Oh Kristi—I’m so angry too. And I know my being angry will not change anyone. It will change me because I will harden my heart and will avoid the news so I don’t have to hear stuff that makes me angrier. That doesn’t mean I won’t stay informed. But ten years ago, in the fall after my husband just retired, the market crashed. Big time. And every night on the news (and all day long, too), I heard about people losing their houses and jobs and going bankrupt and we were both frozen with fear and anger and more anger. The more I watched, the more fear and anger we felt. Then I realized. We own our house. We are retired. Although I was concerned about those that were suffering, the state of the economy really wasn’t affecting us and I stopped watching the news. Years later I read a book, Three Simple Steps. It talked about people’s happiness related to how much they watched the news. That most of the news predictions never came true for most people. The less news, the happier they were. Trump is a totally different situation, though.

    Having been in Mexico for the past twenty-some days, with little access to TV, my only source of media is FB and a bit of CNN snippets. I am somewhat aware of all the ugliness, but at this moment, it is distant. When I get home on Saturday, I’m sure all this ugliness with come rushing back. I am not a Trump supporter. He will never be my President. I will do what it takes to have my voice heard, but I will not let his ugliness destroy me. I know you won’t either. Hugs, my friend. Hugs.

    p.s. I am so, so sad about the party invite. Sometimes though, I think it bothers (us) parents more than it bothers our kids. Did your son ask about it later? Lindsey had those kinds of things happen, but she never seemed to be as frustrated as I was. I hope that is the case for Tucker, too. I truly hope his heart was not hurt.January 31, 2017 – 6:20 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Hi Linda,
      Thanks for this. It was a good reminder to me about the crash 10 years ago. At that point, I was at the peak of my career and didn’t feel very affected and didn’t watch much of the news. I think there’s something to be said for not watching. I’ve been obsessing about all of it – DeVos, others, the horrible haters, and if I didn’t know about it all, the truth is that my day-to-day is fairly the same. The flip side though is that so many people of other religions and skin colors are being denied basic human rights and for that I feel like I HAVE to watch, you know?
      Ugh.
      I know that so many of us won’t let DT destroy us or this country where we welcome people with special needs, with differing viewpoints, all of it.
      Hugs right back to you. Huge ones.
      Re: the invite. Tucker was upset but way less upset than I was. Later, we found out that his friend had a sleepover with a few preschool friends he doesn’t see often and that it wasn’t a birthday party party… If his heart was hurt, it was only briefly. He asked whether he could have the same boy over today after school… so he’s certainly not angry, which is a good thing…
      In all your travels… COME TO DC!January 31, 2017 – 11:00 pmReplyCancel

      • out One Ear - Linda Atwell - I know this is different. So we must stay vigilant. I hope things change soon because I can’t stand the hate this man spews. It does not represent me. 🙂January 31, 2017 – 11:40 pmReplyCancel

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