Yesterday over coffee, a friend told me she was “on the edge” — permanently. Every day something happened that she felt might just tip her over from mild-mannered mom to angry beast. She felt like she was always on the verge of losing it. I gave her a hug and told her I felt exactly the same way.
In fact, it was only last week that my husband told me that I am not only wildly defensive, but I am almost always angry these days. At first I was stunned when he said this, and then I realized that he was right.
Most days I do feel a knot of stress in my stomach. It begins upon waking, primarily because it’s cold and wintery, and everything is such an effort. The sheer amount of energy I use in the morning to get my kids dressed and fed and their school bags packed is unbelievable. The clock ticks — inevitably I am always running late — and it’s a race to get out the door, up the hill, and in to school on time.
I get home to the dishwasher that needs to be unloaded, the laundry that needs to be put away, and the living room that needs to be tidied — when all I want to do is begin my job of writing. I then try in the next six hours to pack in a full-time job, grocery shopping, chores, and list-making — before
trudging racing late up the hill again in time for school pick-up. Then homework, dinnertime, bath-time, and bedtime all beckon.
The sheer mundane ritual of life — the grind of the everyday chores of living — sap the sheer joy out of me and I end up angry.
At what exactly? At my money worries, the fear that I will lose my writing jobs, my worry about not having a “grand plan.” I’m angry that everything is hard and stressful and it’s just my husband and I trying to raise these kids, with no tribe — no help. Most of all, I’m angry with myself. I beat myself up every day that I’m not a good enough mother, that I shouldn’t have shouted at my kids, that I’m being selfish to want to have five minutes to myself, that I’m not as good as everyone else.
Life overwhelms me a lot of the time. I tend to sweat the small stuff, so much so that I end up in a flying rage over the littlest thing — like the fact that I can’t find my son’s PE shirt. I’ll scream at him and my husband until they scream back, then I’ll lock myself in the bathroom and cry at being such a demonic mom.
Needless to say, if anyone were in need of an “anti-anger pill,” it’s me. And it looks like there may be hope on the horizon.
Scientists at New York University might be on the brink of formulating such a pill after experiments helped them identify the brain’s anger center. They found that chemical changes in the brain’s lateral septum made the mice they were using attack other animals, a discovery they said could lead to the eventual creation of drugs to help control anger. SIGN ME UP!
And I’m not alone in this, as proven by fellow mom Jill Robbins who recently wrote about her own struggles controlling her anger. According to the Mental Health Organization Boiling Point report in 2008, 1 in 10 people say they have trouble controlling their anger and over a third of us know someone who’s had anger issues. Two-thirds, meanwhile, believe that people are getting angrier.
So why are we all so angry these days? Is it because it’s become more acceptable? That we’re used to seeing anger on social media, swearing on TV, and people venting at work? Perhaps. I’d also warrant it comes down to women being expected to be moms, housekeepers, workers, friends, brilliant cooks, and interior designers — all the while posing in sexy selfies. It’s no wonder we feel burnt out, stressed, and exhausted. The “have it all” mentality is draining the very life out of women; we have too much on our plates and it’s stressing. us. out.
I think it’s time we give ourselves a break. Learn not to sweat the small stuff. Ask for help. Be grateful for what we have rather than fixating on what we don’t, and stop expecting so much from ourselves and other people.
Anger isn’t doing my health any favors, or my relationships and marriage; I certainly don’t achieve anything quicker or better by letting the red mist descend. It’s time to ditch anger before I really do explode. And hopefully by the time this anti-anger pill is available, I won’t need it …More On