temper temper

It does not give me any solace to admit I come by it honestly. I have unseen scars from the belt and the boot tip to prove it. But albeit mother bear or alpha female or simply a product of being overtired and overwhelmed, when my children were younger I had to work to temper my temper.

Perhaps it goes back even further. To my own younger years. When my mask for being hurt was a secondary emotion–anger. This is completely counterintuitive, you know. People are sympathetic to the wounded. But not much love is lost on the angry. When my little sister and I squabbled or I otherwise got myself and/or my feelings hurt, I would hide it under a wall of anger. Perhaps it was pride–wanting to be strong? I have no idea why. It was just what was. And so, too often, I would be scolded or punished more harshly because of my own hardness.

Which, now I think about it, is entirely different than the unleashing of frustration that often surprise young mothers who found them generally perfectly composed through their adult years. Until now.

I’m not proud of my temper (belt-free and boot-free that it was). But I am grateful for all the times I was reminded by the spirit to apologize. “I’m sorry. It’s not your fault. I didn’t handle that well. And I’m sorry.” It was the apology I always craved as a child. And I gave it freely. It wasn’t always. I hope it was enough.

I’m grateful too that whatever it was–experience, age, the spirit, or maybe simply throwing my hands up in the air and admitting I have no control over anything and I’m legitimately tired–that tempered my temper over the years. I’m not perfect. But I’m better at choosing my battles. Not being the one to escalate a situation. And learning to, when I can, simply extricate myself from the conflict.

Sometimes I still have defensive wounds. But I’m more likely to forgo the secondary emotion and simply be at peace with the hurt. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. It just is.

[Day 110 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]