This is addressed to the older version of you… who has left home and is finding a new beginning away from the darkness.
Let’s talk about temper. I’m going to try and word this carefully so you can be open to chewing on it… because it’s a tough topic with some even tougher ingredients.
You grew up in an abusive environment and because of this, your needs were not being met. Your mother is wrapped up in her own pain and cannot recognize you as an individual… she needs to intimidate and dominate you because her neurotic need is control. The only way you could create enough space to be yourself was to rebel against her and reject her. She met this rebellion at first by beating you. When that didn’t work, she disavowed you… essentially “unmaking” you in her own eyes.
On your end, you mistake your toughness for emotional resiliency. But the truth is that emotional resiliency comes from believing that you are worthy of love no matter your mistakes and that you can dare to feel your full range of emotions – yes, even sadness , fear and pain – without compromising your strength or your worthiness.
You have distanced yourself from your needs because they could not be met. Which undermines your sense of self and of confidence in yourself… because your “self” has been locked up and put away in order to protect it and to find safety. But this comes at a terrible cost. Because the vacuum it leaves needs to be filled with something. So you have replaced it with an idealized image of yourself – that which you should be. This idealized image drives you to be better… to protect yourself… to hold power. So that you will not be harmed gain. So that you will succeed no matter what. You will conquer… or you will exist without any needs. Because in your mind, needs are weakness. Your desire to achieve this idealized state is more than a want… it drives you.
Right now you are trying to reign in your temper with raw willpower and discipline. This idea of whipping your feelings into submission is not healthy… because it doesn’t allow you the ability to *outgrow* your temper.
The key to your temper is in your belief about what should or should not happen. When you were in an abusive environment, your temper was sometimes necessary to protect you from abuse. However, when you now lose your temper at a small incident, it is because you have a claim on what should or should not happen – even at the smallest level. An honest mistake by you or someone else triggers a stream of anger and intense feelings in you because your idealized image believes that you do not deserve this. Life owes you a break. Right now, as you read this, you are denying that this applies to you.
In these moments when you lose your temper for situations that are not dangerous, your temper is based in your idealized image. Your fear keeps you rigid in your belief that you do not deserve this kind of treatment and therefore it should not happen to you. This conflicts with reality which is that these kinds of things can and do happen… and you do not have control over them. You have to resign (I know how much you hate that word) to this fact and deal with it.
How do you counter this? You have to accept your limitations and allow for other’s limitations. You have to ask yourself what claim you are making at this moment… and is it based in a “should”. Is your imagination conjuring up more dire consequences than might realistically happen? Can you survive the outcome of those consequences if they come to pass?
You are heading into a safe place where you can create new relationships and seek out health. To do this, you have to ask yourself these questions when you feel your temper begin to spiral.
You have needs and wants that were not being met. Later in life, you will continue to have some of your wants left unfulfilled (thankfully, most of your needs will be met). The key to this is to not confuse your needs and wants with entitlement. When they are left unfulfilled, you will tend to think of them as more than needs or wants… you will think of them as claims. And when these claims are unmet, you will push them down… hide them… and further distance yourself from your true self.
I know this sounds like psycho-babble. But it’s a painful journey many people have made before you. And there is no quick cure. It requires attention to your real self… your real needs… your real desires. And the ability to accept that you will not always get what you want or even need. But you will still survive because there is some part of your flame that didn’t get snuffed out.
Keep moving forward and know that your ability to feel a full range of emotions is your saving grace. Eventually you will discover that this is the foundation of your real strength.
You have seen this in your own words written do many years ago. I leave them for you here.
I was once a piece of darkness
Everything about me fed my blackness
Nothing escaped my void
No light no sound no feeling
But there was always that miniscule spark
That speck of something so small
It barely cast a shadow
But it did
And my darkness reached to snuff it
To carelessly flick it away
And barely cast it a glance as it dies
But it didn’t
It felt my touch and it burned hotter
It burned my darkness
It seared and it scorched
It flew straight into my void
And it burst into flames
It fed on all the light that I had swallowed
It burned and raged in utter defiance
The darkness shriveled at its touch
The fire fed itself
The brightness and heat cast itself outward
Attracting light and warmth from without
Sometimes the heat is too powerful
It can singe those who stand too near
The light cannot give it direction
But given enough heat, the light will follow
I touched a small spark and became a flame
All light and sound and feeling