I never used to be an angry person.
Don't get me wrong. I've never had trouble expressing anger when I actually felt it, but for the most part, I've always been a happy-to-live-each-moment kind of person. Opinionated, true. Willing to argue a valid point, yes. But not angry.
Not until I started mothering my traumatized children.
I know perfectly well that all children are frustrating, that they all disobey and manipulate and argue from time to time, and that even the nicest, most compliant kids are prone to the occasional tantrum. I have normal kids, have seen normal kids in action, and am perfectly aware of what they're capable of.
But I'm not talking about normal kids.
If you've never raised a traumatized or mentally ill child, a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder like mine, or Autism or FAS or a handful of other problems, I really don't feel like explaining what it's like right now. I've tried to explain it, I've tried to get people to understand, but no one does unless they've experienced it themselves. We've gotten a lot of "advice" from well-meaning parents that are doing a great job with their normal, healthy children (like "try counting to three...it works every time" and "all children need is love and consistency" and "just find their currency" and "maybe it's just food allergies"). But at this point, we just smile and say thanks and choose to forgive because we know they just don't get it.
We didn't either, until we got our kids. And then we understood what it really meant for someone to do absolutely whatever it takes to make you angry. To try to force you to hate them. To try to make you lose control, because all they want is to feel more powerful than you. The ability to control your emotions is cocaine to them, and RAD kids are addicts.
There I was at the beginning, having never heard of RAD, letting these sick children play with my anger and feed it and nurture it like a pet, all the while making them sicker. And then we have a diagnoses, and the pieces start to fit together, and I learn that I'm not supposed to let them make me angry.
And yet I can't stop being angry.
When we were in therapy for Miss M, I learned that a huge number of mothers of RAD kids are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), having endured trauma themselves by simply raising their traumatized children. We discussed it, filled out evaluations for it, and the therapist felt certain that I suffer from PTSD.
But so what? It doesn't change anything, does it? Just because anger has a reason, it doesn't make angry words any less detrimental, and it doesn't mean you can pretend the problem is not there. It still has to be dealt with, and in many ways, especially as my kids' behaviors are falling more frequently into the "normal" category, God has been doing great things in His quest to eradicate impulsive anger from my life.
But just when I think I've got it under control, a week comes along like this one and I'm reminded how close my anger is to the surface. And I see how much I need God.
As only God could arrange it, the topic of our sermon this past Sunday was anger. It was a great sermon, full of wisdom, but the one point that was engraved on my heart went something like this: Anger itself is not a sin, it's a doorway. When you're angry, the door is opened, and someone IS going to walk through it. Will it be Satan? Will you allow him to control your anger? Or will you give it to God, so He can show His power in the midst of your weakness?
I desperately want to let God control my anger. I want Him to use it to make me more like Christ. Yet my daughter is refusing to respect my authority, her healing is backsliding, and she's provoking me every chance she gets. I've completely lost it with her twice in the last six days, allowing Satan to take my anger and run away with it, blinding me. And even when I haven't blown up, I can still feel the anger eating at me, feeding my resentment towards her and crippling our ability to bond. It's been a bad week, and something has got to change.
And so I ask for your help. Would you consider praying for me? When my door of anger is opened in the coming days, as it undoubtedly will be, please pray that I'll be able to let God in first so He can work His wonders in my heart. And when Satan comes barging through the door, pray that I can kick his sorry butt from here to kingdom come.