William Shakespeare once said, "Men in rage strike those that wish them best." The same can be said of a certain stressed out, bipolar mommy.
Now I've never, ever laid a hand on Punkin' Butt. I'll admit there have been times when it was close and I had to just walk away, regardless of what she was doing "wrong." I say "wrong" because usually when I get that angry with her, it has nothing to do with her. Sure, she may not have been listening (again), but the real reason lies in me.
Rage strikes me when I least expect it, although I really should be expecting it. It's usually been building - irritability; rapid heart beat; feeling flushed; a headache in my right temple - and I've just ignored or not noticed the signs. When I'm starting to feel manic like that, rage doesn't need much of a reason to show itself.
There are several things that trigger me. Hunger is always a biggie. Boredom tends to make me manic and irritable. But I think my biggest trigger is noise. We can only run one major appliance in our house at a time. I can't run the dishwasher, washing machine and dryer all at the same time. My brain can not handle that much noise. It's just something I've come to accept and learned to deal with.
But there are times when I push it. I wait too long to eat; I don't plan out my day well enough; the house gets too loud. I start to feel manic. Then something goes "wrong." And the person usually doing "wrong" is Punkin' Butt. Throwing a temper tantrum, pulling the cat's tail (again), even just getting in my way as I'm stomping through the house. This is when I lose it.
When I lose it, I yell. A lot, and very loudly. And I find it hard to stop. No one is excused - PB, The Bearded One, our poor old cat. I'm mean. I tell people (and animals) to shut up. Yes, even my 2 1/2 year old little girl. I've told her to go away, to get out of my face, to leave me the hell alone. All in a very loud, very angry way.
It scares the shit out of me every time.
It's scary to lose control that fast, that violently. And it's scary to tell you that it even happens. I'm always instantly apologetic and ashamed at my behavior. What kind of monster screams at their baby? Because, yes, this started years ago. And I don't ever let myself forget a single time it's happened.
Punkin' Butt doesn't seem to have suffered any long term effects, thank the lords. And half the time she laughs at me when I yell at her. But it's the times when she looks at me with fear in her eyes that trouble me the most. I wonder if I've scarred her for life.
Thankfully, those time are becoming fewer and farther between. I'm learning to control my anger and how to read the signs long before things come to a head. There's a lot more laughter in our house than there used to be. And I'm learning to forgive myself for past transgressions.
But a part of me will always carry guilt for the way I've treated her. My therapist says that's not healthy. I think it's the way it has to be. If I didn't feel the guilt, how would I remember to behave better? And how could I not feel guilty? My daughter deserves to be treated better than that, and the guilt I will always feel is a daily reminder of how not to treat this precious person.