What’s Anger Got to Do With It?

379 days of loving more!

Two Wednesdays ago was supposed to be a most joyous day. It was my 365th day of not yelling. I woke up excited, proud, and so happy. I woke up eager for the day of celebrating with my boys to start. I woke up to start writing only to hear all my 4 boys up at 5:30. Ironically, on this momentous day, I went to yell but stopped myself. I knew they were all awake because they too were excited; there was no reason to squash that! They too were planning a fun day and were eager to get on with it. I took a deep breath, closed my mouth and pretended to not see them as they scampered downstairs to decorate the kitchen with daddy and put out signs shouting congratulations. My youngest, #4, now 18 months, had settled himself back to sleep so I settled back into writing.

Around 6:30, I was informed that it was time for me to come downstairs as long as I was wearing my orange sweater and orange jewelry (well of course I was!) I headed to #4’s room to wake him so he could join me in the family celebration.

Well, this is where the joyous day took a turn. My sweet son was awake all right; and having another darn seizure. (Ah, two weeks later and the tears that I have held so tight to my heart finally start falling out as I write this….) I shouted down to my husband to grab the video camera and the emergency medicine to stop the seizure. We watched him, helpless. My husband, who never experienced a seizure, wanted so desperately to help him. “Don’t touch him sweetie, he’ll come out of it. 3 minutes can pass and we’ll give him his medicine.” I said, trying to be reassuring even though I didn’t even believe what I said.

I watched the clock and him anxiously. My other sons now stood beside us in the nursery.

“Mommy, come downstairs!”
“Mommy, here’s an orange rose for you.”
“Mommy? Mommy? MOMMY!”

I wanted to scream “NOT NOW!” but I knew that would break their hearts. I found all the calmness and togetherness I could and said,

“Oh thank you for the rose boys. I love it! And oh I am SO excited to see what you have done. I am so lucky! But right now I need to take care of #4, okay? I promise I will come down real soon. I love you.”

Darnit. It broke MY heart! My three sons were so proud and excited and I had to put that on hold because of another darn, not understood, unexplainable, yet potentially dangerous seizure.  And the seizure BROKE MY HEART too. Again? Really? I thought we were out of the woods. I was so hopeful. And today? Of all days? (Well today was actually the perfect day because Daddy stayed home late and could help and because it gave me one last chance to practice staying calm!)

3 minutes passed; we administered the medicine. It didn’t work. He continued to seize, his lips now turning blue at the edges; a trip to the Emergency Room was in order. I grabbed some things and we all raced downstairs.

I ran into the kitchen, the beautifully, 110% orange kitchen. Oh how I wanted to stop and enjoy the moment, the celebration of a year’s worth of work. Oh how I wanted to hug my boys and say thank you and it’s wonderful. Oh how I wanted to hug my husband and say it was just the perfect way to start the day. Instead I squeaked out an “It’s great guys, now please, run to the car.”

The oldest two ran; the third insisted on shoes that day of course. And not just crocs, but sneakers. And no he didn’t have socks on. My husband and I were getting antsy as #4 continue seizing but we stayed calm; we both know after a year of not yelling that getting uptight when needing to rush achieves nothing.

We arrived at the hospital. I ran in and got rushed into the Pediatric Emergency Room for oxygen. Twenty minutes later #4 finally woke up (he had fell asleep or passed out at home; I don’t know which one.) At that point my husband had sent me an email with a picture of the kitchen and I burst into tears.

Tears of ANGER. I was SO angry. So very, very angry. Angry at myself – I had bought a video monitor per the neurologist’s suggestion yet forgot to bring it to my desk that morning. What if I had it with me? Would I have seen the seizure earlier? And I was angry at my son’s condition, not him, but his seizures. Why today? Why today? Today was supposed to start with hugs and high fives, not tears and terror. And I was angry with the doctors who still do not agree on the proper medical path to take.

And it turns out, two weeks later, I am still angry. Why? Because we still don’t have a clear path. We still have seizures that are getting worse and we still have two of the top pediatric neurologists in the country disagreeing as to what to do. So yeah, I am ANGRY. I am angry because I love my son and want to help him and right now, it doesn’t feel like I can.

This anger has been eating me up for two weeks now, perhaps longer. And the result? I have not been a pleasant person to be around. I have not been as loving as I wish to be. And my kids, they feel my anger, my stress and they are showing it in their own way and are as expected, more difficult to be around. Which leads me to one conclusion:

There is no upside to anger.

None. Anger does me no good. It doesn’t make me feel better. It doesn’t help me move forward. It doesn’t help me be more loving and calm and understanding so that I can have a good head on my shoulders to figure things out and feel less angry. It certainly doesn’t help me parent better! Anger just brings me down. Yes, there is a moment for anger. Yes, I know some famous psychologist or something speaks of anger as part of the grieving process. So yes, I am okay with feeling anger, but it’s what I do with it that is really important. I need to let it go so that it doesn’t affect everyone around me, especially those I love dearly.

Anger has been on my mind for months actually, and not just because of the seizures. Looking back at my year of not yelling, I realized that anger is such a huge part of yelling. I have looked up definitions of anger numerous times on this journey to try and write about it but surprise, surprise, I didn’t like any of the definitions. So, I made my own this week:

A.nnoyed
N.egative
G.rumpy
E.xasperated
R.ageful

Those are the five feelings I feel when I am headed towards anger.

I start mildly annoyed (ugh, you didn’t pick up your shoes.) The annoyance grows to negative feelings all around (don’t you ever clean up?) which leads to grumpiness (seriously, can you do nothing right, harrumph, this day is gonna stink), and then exasperation (oh my gosh, how can I get you to pick up your shoes? I don’t know what to do!)

Of course after all these feelings, comes rage followed by a big ‘ole yell! What starts so small and simple as annoyance can so easily lead to negative attitudes, grumpiness, and exasperation and rage. In the past, when I hit rage, or even exasperation, that is when I charged; that is when I charged with my words.

At the start of my challenge someone pointed out to me the most beautifully ironic thing:

theorANGERhinochallenge

Do you see it? Anger is hidden in the name of my challenge. Surreal. It is a complete accident and yet such a wonderful one. Because this challenge, for me, I realize now has been making sure that I don’t let myself ever feel all those 5 feelings at once again. It has been about teaching myself to manage them, so when they come on I can let them go. One by one. The key for me has been to tame the annoyance quickly so that it doesn’t spiral into the following stages; so that it doesn’t become full-blown anger.

I haven’t tamed my annoyance lately and it’s showing. I’m more negative. I’m grumpier. I’m getting exasperated; not just about my son’s medical condition but about my all my sons’ behaviors (acceptable and unacceptable.) And I know what’s next; a big ‘ole, most likely unnecessary, yell.

So, it’s time to let go of my anger. Because again, anger does me not good. Anger at my son’s medical predicament does me no good. Anger at my sons’ for whatever reason does me no good. Anger just leads me to yelling and that is not a path I wish to take again. There is no upside to anger; and there certainly is no upside to yelling.

End Note: I ended up having a great day. I got to snuggle with little man all day and still celebrate with my boys. All 5 of them. Daddy stayed home because of the seizure so it turned out to be a family day…even better! 

*
To read related posts to my son’s medical situation click on the links below!
Waiting to Exhale
Waiting to Exhale, Part 2
Code Orange Rhino
A Time to Yell

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15 thoughts on “What’s Anger Got to Do With It?

  1. I am a new reader to your blog. I found you through the Parents Magazine Blog Competition and vote for you every day! I’ve even sent many of my readers your way and some are currently taking (and talking about) the Orange Rhino Challenge!

    I just had to write after reading tonight’s post. Having been through one seizure (and one was enough) with my child, I know how desperately scary it is. And having a special needs child who often has medical complications and issues, I also know the balancing act it takes to tend to another child – let alone three. I’m so sorry this all had to happen on your 365th day. But I bet I speak for a lot of your readers and supporters – the biggest celebration is all the lives you’ve touched and changed through this blog. What you’ve accomplished is remarkable and I hope that helps ease your disappointment.

    I truly hope the docs can get to the bottom of your child’s seizures! I’ll keep your family in my prayers.

    kate
    Chasing Rainbows

  2. So sorry you have to go through watching your little one have seizures. I hope the medical professionals can help with his best interest in mind. Thank-you for sharing 😉

  3. I like your definition of anger, it fits me so well.
    I only discovered your program today but can see that I need it. I can also see that you experience drama big enough to yell and have chosen not to. Congratulations!

  4. A big hug to you. I can relate.
    I think I told you I had lots of ‘stuff’ in the past. I was angry too.
    Children are NOT supposed to be sick. Doctors are supposed to be able to KNOW how to fix it
    we mother’s are supposed to hold it all together and keep the house perfectly with perfect children and our hair in place while we cook in high heels and pearls…..
    Our realities are always so different from what our imaginings, our hopes, our dreams and our plans are. Is it that way to teach us something? It sucks. It does. I am PROUD of you for hanging on, for keeping cool and for taking your time to process your feelings.
    Your family is so lucky to have you. Take heart.
    Thank you for sharing

  5. So well said. I hope #4 gets a diagnosis and treatment that works for him (and you) soon. Thank you for sharing that story and your challenge with all of us! My children thank you, too!

  6. Wow, This has affected me in ways I didn’t expect. I started reading your blog a week or so ago, from a pin that one of my friends pinned. I am a yeller and have been trying in the last month or so to stop. I do good for a couple of days but find that there is always something that starts me up. I noticed last night that my anger begins to swell if my husband is not feeling well. He has dealt with Chronic Headaches most of his adult life. He has had many tests, medicines, etc and has not found anything that will help him. Some days he is okay but most days he is not. I find that my anger level (to my children) increases as his headaches do. And yesterday I realized that when it is getting worse for him then I begin to get anxious and my kids can’t do anything right. Then the yelling begins and my guilt and frustration collide. After reading today’s article I saw myself as I could become. Someone who doesn’t yell because the situation is tough, but has the ability to overcome those feelings and be strong. Thank you for your words. They have touched my soul and are an answer to prayers that I have been praying. I need to work through this and figure out new responses to old problems. This part of your article needs to be a quote I place near my bed that I can read each morning. “So, it’s time to let go of my anger. Because again, anger does me not good. Anger at my son’s {my husbands} medical predicament does me no good. Anger at my sons’{and daughters} for whatever reason does me no good. Anger just leads me to yelling and that is not a path I wish to take again. There is no upside to anger; and there certainly is no upside to yelling.”
    Thank you! Keep up the good work and I will pray for your family and hope that you may find a resolution.

  7. Please research Glut-1 Deficiency Syndrome. My niece went 8 years with unexplained seizures and was finally properly diagnosed in May of this year. The ketogenic diet has worked wonders for her. None of the pediatrician …some of the best in NJ could diagnose her. A new doctor finally ordered a spinal tap and that is when they were able to succesfully treat her. Glut-1 Deficiency or Glut1 transport Syndrome. There are only 200 cases in the US. Most of the doctors I’ve spoken to have not heard of it.Prayers for a diagnoses for you all. Thanks so much for your post. I’m 2 months without yelling! Please contact me if you have questions we’ve been through it:(

  8. You write so beautifully! As a mother of 9 I feel your pain. Life can be so cruel and unpredictable and totally out of our control, and sometimes it’s just too much. Thank you for sharing your struggles, because, you are right, we CAN learn from it. Lashing out does not hurry us up faster, it doesn’t make things better, it’s just ugly and no good for anyone, but some of us are still looking for those tools to push past the feelings and into total control. I’m so anxious to start the 30 days!!!

    I found your blog last week, and I’m sure it is a Godsend! And there are no coincidences, the orANGERhino thing, totally a Godinstance! And because of this post, I’m going to keep with your orange and rhino theme even though I’m not a fan of orange, or rhinos for that matter. LOL! But, now I think they are my most favorite things!!!

    Know that your family is in our prayers!
    Krysten Snow
    aka the Snowmomma

  9. Thank you for sharing. Being a Mom means sacrifice. You sacrificed YOUR celebration for the well being of one of your children. Obviously it was well worth it but the selfish part of us wants to feel sorry for ourselves. It is huge what you have done and you have been a great help and inspiration to me. In reading about your definition of anger, I was reminded of something I used to use when I worked out of the home (before kids) Anger is only one letter away from danger. Scarey when you think of it that way. Praying for answers for your little one. God Bless.

  10. Hello, I am praying for #4 that the healing power of God will put to rest these seizures. By the stripes of Jesus, #4 is healed (Isa 53:4-5, NKJV.) By faith, we receive that which we pray for (1 John 5:14-15) and I will continue to thank the Lord for healing #4. Amen

  11. Tears fell down my face while reading this post. I’m so sorry. My heart goes out to you and your family.

    You are right. There is no upside to anger.

  12. Oh gosh this made me bawl. So amazed in and in awe about how you have been able to handle this horrible situation with such grace and self-awareness.

  13. First — thanks for your blog and your honest sharing.

    I am so sorry you had to experience the terror that comes with seizures. My son had a seizure disorder as well. We went to ER, ran tests, MRI etc. Idiopathic epilepsy. After doing research on the meds, I was really concerned about them and the effects on a growing brain.

    I began searching for alternatives to medicine. I spoke with a naturopathic doctor who helped us with a homeopathic and some diet changes. We took out all MSG (even folks on medication can have break through seizures after MSG). His seizures began to stop. There is a book TREATING EPILEPSY NATURALLY by Patricia Murphy that has some good info.

    Just offering info. Each parent has to decide the right course of treatment for their child — medicines are right for some. Sending you light and hope for answers and continued health. If you have any questions, I’m happy to share more information.

  14. I cried reading your post. I am the mother of a child with a major medical condition, and am too too familiar with ER trips. We are more stable these days, thankfully, but your post brought tears to me.

    I just wanted to mention another view of anger, one that incorporates it rather than banishing it. Too often I have found if I banish my anger, then it comes back to me, sometimes with more veracity.

    I have found it helpful to remember that anger exists to let us know that our boundaries have been crossed. It’s very, very functional in that way, and we can welcome that message instead of sending it away. So, your boundaries have been majorly crossed by so many things in this situation, and your body and mind are saying STOP, which you are experiencing as anger.

    Functionally, my recognition of my boundaries being crossed can give me a lot of power and focus, especially if it’s given a place at the table. I don’t know if that idea is helpful to you too.

    All that said, I have not managed to not yell for a whole year. You have completely impressed me. Thanks for your guidance and inspiration.

    April

    • Thanks for reading and a point well made! It is very true. While I need to let anger go, I must also acknowledge it. And it can be powerful to learn from the anger too. Because often for me anger is so strong because of love :) Hope your child is doing better…and that the stability continues!

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