I know I’m not you, so to say that I know anything about you is really not my place. Maybe I’m writing this letter to a former me. If that’s the case, then read it that way. From me to me, and then see if any of it applies to you.
You’re not sure who to trust. People can be harsh and talking about the way you feel might bring on some judgment that you’re not open to receive. Maybe you’ve talked to some people already and they minimized your experience or even said that it’s okay for you to be angry and punitive with your children. There’s something that gnaws at you inside, though, because you don’t want to be this way.
Finding someone to trust who can actually help you help yourself isn’t easy, but it can be done. There are people who have walked the path you are walking, and they want to help you because they know there’s another version of this story and you are writing it right now.
You’d like to be over this anger stuff already. Are you saying stuff like this to yourself? Come on, really, am I still dealing with this? Why do I have such a problem with anger? What is wrong with me?! I want to be done with this, like yesterday. I don’t want to lash out at my family and I don’t even want to feel what I’m feeling. I hate this.
Since anger is a human emotion, we can’t just be done with it, but we can totally transform our experience of anger and minimize its occurrence in various ways. We can learn from anger – and actually befriend it so we understand why we feel angry and what we can do when we feel that way. We can learn how to harness the power of the anger and use it for good. Really! So instead of wanting to be done with anger, maybe try wanting to be done with being done. Maybe just replace that thought with something like, “I’m ready to have a new, much more empowering experience with anger.”
You’re not really sure you can change these patterns. Is it even possible to change our ways? Really? Who decides? Can I change life long patterns (or ones that just erupted and I have no idea what to do with)?
Fighting ourselves is a battle we won’t win. We can learn to change patterns, though, because they’re within us and we have the ability to make new choices in each moment. Patterns are habits or actions we’ve repeated over time. To establish new patterns we need to learn alternatives and apply them over and over. Sure, it may be intense and a lot of work. You can do it, though, and I guarantee you’ll feel better about the way you parent as you do.
You’re afraid that your kids might be better off without you – and if someone else recognizes this they might even be taken out of your care and possibly put into worse hands than yours. This is huge. What if they would be better in someone else’s hands? Do you have loving family or friends they can stay with for a while so you can figure out if this would be helpful as you learn how to deal with the anger you are experiencing? Does that question bring about the desire to punch someone?
Our children need us. We need to do whatever we can to help ourselves be the parents our children need. If that means some loving space at times, it is what it is. However, it can also be valuable for kids to be part of the healing process – to take part in therapy, making amends and forgiveness. It’s okay to be a work in progress as a parent, just get the help you need so you know you’re going in the right direction.
You’ve been awful when you’re angry and maybe you don’t deserve any help. Even if you felt a sense of justification for your actions, if you have some sense of remorse you not only deserve help, you will actually benefit from getting help. People experiencing rage need help to get inside of the rage and see what needs healing. Rage is a symptom of something deeper. If you don’t experience what you’d call rage, but you’ve lashed out, there’s still a basis for your actions that is worthy of exploring. Mainly, everyone deserves help, especially someone who wants help and is willing to put it to use.
You’ve tried to change and failed, so many times, and you’re not sure getting help would make a difference. Maybe I’m just a failure and I can’t change. Help would be futile in such a case. Now, I’ll go dig myself a grave.
No, don’t go there. Patterns take a long time to change. Try 2,000 times in context (or more) and when we slip back to old patterns we must begin again. Begin again?! Yes, we need to integrate new patterns to put the old patterns to rest so we can move on and parent with integrity. Don’t be discouraged and if you are, get help – it will make a difference.
You don’t believe in yourself, because you’ve let you (and others) down. Guilt is a heavy anchor, which can drag us down into the hell it created in the first place or propel us forward to create new experiences where we act in line with our values.
Allow guilt to shift to remorse, learning new skills and taking new actions. We all let ourselves down at times. How we deal with these perceived failures determines so much of our experience.
Be gentle with yourself. You need your loving care more than anyone else right now. Believe in you so you can make the changes you desire.
You’re not sure you need help; maybe this is just the way you are. Acceptance is a powerful experience. Resignation and indifference are not the same as acceptance. If you feel numb, it’s okay. Sometimes we’re in a space of indifference before we experience a big push to gradually walk across the bridge of change. So, sure, maybe this is the way you are right now. That doesn’t mean you can’t change the way you experience anger and change the way it affects your parenting.
It’s okay if you disagree with all of this. Mostly, I want you to know…
I hear you.
It can feel extremely difficult to ask for help when we feel like we’re not deserving, like we can’t change, like we’ve done too much damage already and ultimately when we don’t believe in ourselves. But we must, because we are the only ones who can really help ourselves. We must begin the process of change by admitting that we need help. Then we can ask for the help we need. Whether it’s from ourselves by way of changing the ways we think and act, from friends or others who offer assistance and solutions for the problems we are experiencing, from a loving source (or some combination of the three) – we can get the help we need.
It’s okay to need help.
We didn’t get the way we are by ourselves. We may need some help unraveling all of the thoughts and patterns we have that need attention while we are transforming angry reactions into conscious responses. While admitting we need help may leave us feeling vulnerable (because we are), it is also an act of courage.
I know you have the courage to get the help you need.
Why do I know this about you? First, because you are here reading this letter from me to you. If you weren’t brave and willing to look yourself in the mirror, no matter how much it hurts, you wouldn’t have read this far – you’d have clicked away. Second, because you are potential. You don’t just have potential. You are potential.
The same potential you see in your child exists in you. Sure, maybe it’s hard to see in the midst of uncomfortable feelings and experiences. It’s still here, waiting for you to notice.
Getting help is about honoring your potential.
It’s about seeing that you’re struggling and choosing to hold onto the glimmer of hope that resides in your soul so you can gradually let it lead the way through the anger you are experiencing and into a new experience with parenting and life. If you’ve been struggling and what I’m sharing speaks to you, reach out for the help you need. There are many people who are willing and able to support you in healing through whatever you are facing.
Change starts with us.
I know you can do this. You already are. Take the next step. Learn how to feel what you feel safely and find someone you trust. Reach out today. If you’d like to learn more about working with me, visit the sessions page. Also, check out these resources. If I can assist you in any way, please contact me anytime.
Are you struggling as a parent? If so, I’d like to share something with you: a story and some hope.