Last August it was a decade since my husband had his first heart attack. After he came home from the hospital some ten plus years ago, it felt almost like someone flipped a switch inside him. The kind, patient, intellectual man I married was suddenly very very angry. A lot of that anger I explained away as fear. From that time though, our relationship was forever changed.
When my husband is angry, it is a burn that is slow to start. Something innocuous is usually the spark that ignites the fuse. Then the anger becomes progressively hotter and it spews faster until it explodes fully. The actual explosion ends only when he breaks me. When finally he has gone through all of my defenses and he sees how much he is hurting me, when I am sobbing because I feel like my heart is breaking...only then can he let go. This whole process can take just minutes, or hours, or even days.
Today, I am wondering if his anger has forever changed me. Impaired me, as a person and more importantly as a mother. On my mind lately is how often I snap. How many times I lose my temper to find upon further reflection that I am not angry at all. Sometimes I am frustrated, annoyed, frightened, tired, or sad. All of these feelings or emotions have one trait in common for me...I dress them all as anger. A defense mechanism I believe it is called. I deserve to be more in control of what I am feeling. My children deserve to have a mother that is more patient and indeed better at hiding her impatience. I am working on me. I am working on acknowledging when I lose my temper and why. I am trying to make myself cognizant of when my patience has worn away and how I got there. I am in short...getting better. I am not the 'me' I was in my first days of motherhood or in the early years of our marriage, but I am a better me than I have been for awhile. Will I ever come full circle? Will I ever return to being the person I lost?
My husband has been gone for five months now. I am amazed by how different my house is when our Daddy is away. There is so much more of my 'teacher voice' and so much less screaming. There are more times that I realize that I can actually hear my kids, and less when I wish I were a million miles away. The house is like a balloon that is deflating, all the latent anger escaping. This reality is so much better than our old one.
I love my husband. The children love their Daddy. Of this there is no doubt. I ask myself a thousand times a day how I can show him this different and better family. How to avoid triggering his anger long enough for him to see our stronger, happier, more laid back existence. I wonder if he'll even notice. I want to let love and compassion be the strongest influences in our home, not anger and fear. I want to...put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
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