By Jessica Lau
“My father is angry”; “She has to be right all the time”; “He just explodes at anything and everything” : These statements are often expressed from clients across many different cultures and are deeply heard and felt by myself in therapy.
Just like the young lady in the video, growing up with irritable, angry or even raging parents can leave us “there”— helpless and just don’t know what to do!
It can look like:
The child us felt really anxious around that parent. It was unpredictable what could trigger the parent’s rage. A big mistake or something as routine as pouring a glass of water could lead to an overreaction, usually an explosive emotional response such as yelling and shouting out loud if not hitting.As adults, one can be stressed and worried about one’s own actions. Narratives like “am I doing the right thing?” “What would people think of me” run in the adults’ mind. We can enter work environment or relationship that we feel unsafe, unpredictable and demanding as if we are addicted to the stress.
The child us never felt enough for compliments but were always criticised or condemned. It was just sad to be hearing words of shame most of the time.As adults, one can feel ashamed, inadequate and worthless. We question our capabilities a lot.
- Anger, frustration and resentment
The child us felt resentful for not being understood. We felt angry for being accused of things that we did not agree.As adults, one can become very defensive to a point that it appears to be aggressive or offensive to people. You snap easily. You pick on clues that people are going to hurt you and you would rather hurt than to be hurt. You yell back. You shout first. You become the person you never want to become.
While we have all the right to be angry, the behaviours that hurt other people are never acceptable. Perhaps below all the anger the parent emitted in the family, there are some deep sadness, loneliness and insecurity that never have the opportunity to be embraced and processed.
Know that you are not alone if you are wounded by irritation, anger and rage. Know that you don’t have to be wounded for any longer. You don’t have to live in the offence for the rest of your life.
The healing is in you today.