Monday, June 23, 2008

Breaking the cycle.

So my Dh threw a major temper tantrum this weekend over our laptop/internet connection. Please know that my DH is one of the most even-tempered, roll with the punches, calm and logical people I know. This type of hissy fit happens maybe twice a year, where he just blows his top. He was yelling and cursing and throwing things around and you coul practically see angry red lines rolling off of him.

And I was scared.

My dad used to act that way. And he is a gret guy, and he would never have physically abused us or anything like that, but when he got that way, we all tiptoed around him for days and his temper tantrums (what this was really) would frighten me to death. I still jump when I hear a door slam because that was A.Bad.Thing. in my house growing up. So when J gets like that, I freak out a bit.

What's worse? I get that way too, and more often than J does. I get emotional and when I'm tired or hormonal or stressed out, I have a very thin skin and short fuse. I tend to blow up the same way - fuming, stalking around, loudly opening and closing doors and cabinets and punching pillows and other things. I know that I've caused a similar wary reaction to J and others around me when I'm in a snit like that. It doesn't feel good, but I don't know how else to release that rush of overwhelming anger and frustration.

But seeing J like this over the weekend made me see my own behavior more clearly. And one thing I'm sure of - I don't want it to continue. For either of us. When we resolved the issue with the computer, he apologized for his behavior (as I've done in the past) and I told him it was ok, but that we both have to find a new way. I'm not sure what that will be yet - someone suggested leaving the room, breathing deeply to the count of ten and quietly telling the other person where we were on an anger scale. Which makes a lot of sense. We need to find something.

I don't want our kids to live in fear like I did, and as J later admitted he did - his dad is the same way as mine when it comes to this anger thing. More than that, we want to model better behavior for our kids - in relating the incidents this weekend to some friends with kids, they all told me how their own children, even as infants, picked up on their anger and stresses and were upset by them. And how they had to learn to deal with the frustration of toddlers pushing boundaries in more constructive manners, since screaming didn't accomplish anything. And how they see their kids mimicing their own behaviors and responses to things like stressful situations and angry situations.

I don't want my kids to be like me this way. I'm thinking a lot more about the behaviors I need to work on. I won't ever be perfect, and I'll still cry with frustration in the car when we are lost and I'm stressed out, but if I can reduce those instances, or visibly change my attitude and handle the situation more appropriately and more like and adult (more like my mother flashes through my mind), it'll be better for everyone around me.

As J put it - I want to break the cycle.

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