Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Of Storms and Love


The most hateful hate I have ever known erupts like lava from the volcano that is Eve. Accelerated by the steam of fear and frustration inside this eleven-year-old body it destroys all in its path indiscriminately. It is not about chores or homework or curfew, although that is the story. As her mother, I want to know what lies at the core, what is driving this fear and sadness.

“I hate you!”

“You don’t get it! Nobody understands me!”

The sneer of derision. She looks down on me for my ignorance, but beneath that is the stark terror that I might not "get it." That it may be that nobody will ever understand how she feels.

I am nearly jealous. At her age, such a volatile, emotional display was acceptable only within the walls of my head. Never to be uttered aloud.

I can remember wishing for confrontation to appear in my daily life. Any situation where I would be clearly justified in getting angry – an explosion that everyone would condone and agree with. I worked through scripts in my head, Dad or Mom or random strangers in the store doing me Wrong and eliciting rage like they never anticipated. I would stop them in their tracks with cold, calculating comebacks, catching their breath in their throats as sudden illumination flooded their brains – they were Wrong. I was Right.

As a teenager, I was quick to anger in the driver’s seat, honking, flashing lights, raising my middle finger. I was courageous within the steel frame of my Datsun 310, stomping on the gas as I passed little old ladies holding up traffic on Highway 101.

On sick days I would lounge on the couch watching “Days of Our Lives.” Inhabiting the diva, wishing for a chance to become indignant and furious, clever barbs and speeches designed to wound sitting lightly on my tongue.

I never imagined being the recipient of such anger. And I’m sure she feels justified, or if she doesn’t, she would never let on. And now I know that her bravado is surely false, its roots deep in fear and uncertainty and an overwhelming rush of emotion that is too much to contain. When I ask her to sit with this anger and fear and frustration, her body sheds kinetic energy – her feet stamp the ground like a wild stallion and she twists in her chair as if being wrung out to dry. Her teeth grind and she begs to be let go. This emotion is too much to bear. "Please let me go!" she screams.

It is all I can do to deflect the energy instead of letting it penetrate. This lovely, perfect creature, flesh arisen from mine, whose heart beats with a measure of my blood, is in such pain and to take it on would only destroy us both. My gift to her lies in attempting to shed this incredible energy and replace the void with love and light.

I wish it were easier.

5 comments:

Annie Boreson said...

"This lovely, perfect creature, flesh arisen from mine, whose heart beats with a measure of my blood, is in such pain and to take it on would only destroy us both. My gift to her lies in attempting to shed this incredible energy and replace the void with love and light."

How wonderful! To be so wise is a gift. I, too, felt that anger as a child. We were unable to express it as we were never supposed to do anything to embarrass our family.

You are giving your daughter permission to ride through the anger rite of passage now instead of carrying it around like a clogged artery. Terrific!

Wanda said...

So true. Good luck to you both.

Deb Shucka said...

Incredibly beautiful writing here. I'm really sorry for both your pain, but know for certain how fortunate Eve is to be so well-understood.

I had to laugh at the picture of a young you watching soaps for examples of how to be angry. :-)

Robyn said...

Wow. Thank you for this beautiful post. I struggle daily with the overwhelming anger of my tween. I know I am her safe place but between the normal tween anger and her anger at her absentee father, I sometimes feel like I am drowning in it.

Sandi said...

Oh boy, do I remember days like these. Much worse, actually, but perhaps yours are, too. I alternated between begging her to be reasonable, to angering her further by being unreasonable myself, to eventually, somehow, her agreeing to counseling. It took a few years, however, before she would willingly go. I had to accept I was not in control of her life, and allow her to make some really bad choices. She was diagnosed ADD, and surprise, surprise, I discovered I was also. Neither of us used medication, both of us used counseling and learned to manage our lives a little better.
Now, she is my treasured friend. We understand each other perfectly. :)

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