Over the weekend I had a row with a neighbour over the bins. Admittedly we had parked in her parking space, which is always annoying, but despite apologising and moving the car straight away she wouldn’t give up with the shouting. So, in true grown up fashion I shouted back. About the bins. About the fact that the people who rent her AirBnb apartments use the wrong bins. All. The. Time. But that wasn’t enough. I kept replaying the conversation in my head, finding ways to prolong the drama. I knew I was doing it, but I just couldn’t stop myself. I could see the negative behaviours, and I could feel how it was affecting me.
So I turned to a friend and asked her, is it enough just to spot the behaviour, or is there a way of working out why? Why did it happen? Why was I feeling that way? Her response, “Is there a part of you that wants to lash out at something / someone else and you don’t feel safe to do so”? And there it is. Hit the nail on the head.
We’d just returned from visiting friends and my parents’ and we’d hired the car. I don’t like driving but wondered is it the driving that’s the problem or the destination I am driving to. I fill my time around my parents with visits to friends, anything to avoid staying in the family home for longer than is absolutely necessary.
My childhood wasn’t completely awful. I have some good memories. But there were some aspects that just weren’t that great. They have never been addressed. We’ve papered over the cracks and moved on, whilst pretending to the world that we have a loving family. It’s a home filled with arguments, bitterness, jealousy, blaming others and worst of all boxes. Mental and physical boxes, that I’m expected to fit in to, because we must maintain the public image at all costs. That of the loving family that we are. But we aren’t and I feel the contrast between my family home and that of my friends. I feel it to my core.
So yes. When I came back from the visit I was angry. So very angry about everything and I needed to lash out. But I cannot lash out at the people that I want to.
- I feel guilty about not living nearer to my family home – I used to and believe you me, it was much easier.
- I feel guilty about not caring about the fact I don’t live closer to my family home.
- I feel guilty that my parent’s neighbours are doing their shopping and mowing their lawn because I don’t live closer.
- I feel angry that those lovely people probably have thoughts and opinions about me not being there to do those jobs.
- I feel angry that my parents are more than likely going along with that and playing on the sympathies of neighbours who only see the image that has been so carefully curated over the years.
- I feel angry that I still can’t be myself in the family home. That I’m still expected to fit into boxes. Appropriate boxes.
- I feel angry that my parents blame the world and his dog for the fact I rarely visit rather than accept or acknowledge any responsibility.
- I feel angry that I didn’t get the family experience that I see my friends have with their families
- I feel angry that the benchmark of success is what you have and not who you are.
- I feel angry that I feel guilty
- I feel angry that they can’t see how their behaviours have impacted choices I have made throughout my life.
- Mostly I feel angry that I can’t tell my parents any of this and that it still impacts my life today.
You can safely say there was something / someone that I wanted to lash out at!
I’m generally very happy now, I have found my contentment with the world, so these flare ups do stand out more so than in the past when I was just plain angry and scared. The thing I am noticing increasingly is the effect that this tension has on my body. I’ve been in Bristol for the past three months and have cleaned up my act. I’m exercising daily. Doing exercises to help keep my body moving. Eating and drinking better. I have a belter of a physio who is peeling away the onion layers that is my body. I am pain free.
During this past week my body started to cease up again. The soreness returned to my back. My left-hand ribs are so tight I’d begun to wonder if I had a problem with my bowels. My diaphragm is tight and needed massaging to release it. I know myself that when I tense-up I suck in my chest and lift my shoulders. When I don’t deal with these minor things they progressively get worse and I end up in pain. But at least now I can feel it happening and respond before things go too far. I’m reading a book called ‘Bliss Brain’ by Dawson Church. In fact. I’m only one chapter in, but one passage caught my eye, ‘When your body knows it will be listened to it can speak quietly. A little rumble here. A slight pain there. We hear the message and take care of its needs’ (p27).
Slowly, I am beginning to hear what my body is saying and to understand how the tension and stress is impacting what it feels. I can notice the tension building and have some strategies to deal with it, a better understanding of what does and doesn’t work. I still need to find ways to deal with the anger, to not let it simmer in my body and find ways to release it more effectively than shouting at the neighbours, but finally I feel like I am starting to make progress and to join up the dots. I don’t know that I will ever resolve some of the issues that are making me angry – but with time I hope that I can lessen their impact and move on.