Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I Have to Show My Anger

Two days ago, Raghav and A were playing together, after their first experience of a sleepover. Raghav had built one of the characters from the movie 'Planes' with Lego and A had taken off a few pieces from it for something, unknowingly. Raghav was very upset about that. It was a special plane and he did not want it broken.

He somehow could not say what he felt to A and so wanted me to tell A that, which I did.
"But I didn't know," said A
And I went back and shared that with Raghav. But it didn't help.

He said that he was still angry and that if A had broken his special plane, he was going to break the ship that A had built. I told him how I could understand that he was filled with anger about what had happened, but was wondering what he would achieve by breaking that ship. He agreed that he would not achieve anything, but that he wanted to do it. Just then, I had to leave him and the conversation midway, as I had to attend to someone who had just come home.

While I was away, I did not know what happened. When I got back, Raghav was sitting in the bedroom, and was sitting on the bed covering himself with his sheet, not wanting to see or talk to anybody. Meanwhile, A decided he would look for those pieces for him, found them and gave them to him. But Raghav was not in a space to even acknowledge that or even receive that. They parted ways for the day, without saying their byes happily to each other. And I too crashed early that night, too tired to listen to or talk to him about anything.

The next morning, I started up a conversation with Raghav about what had happened. He shared with me how he had in fact broken a part of the ship, and that he had not told A before, that the plane was special to him and that he should not touch it or break it. I pointed to him as to how A would not have known because he was not informed of all this. He agreed and came up with the idea of telling him what he could touch or not, from the next time.

"But did you break his ship like you wanted to?", I asked.

"Yes. I did," he said. And I fell apart a little. I did not expect that from him. I had thought that my conversation with him would have had some effect. I felt responsible for his 'meanness'. "Did you feel any better after you did that?", I asked. He said that he didn't. And like a 'good mother', I told him how I felt about what he did and how I did not like him taking 'revenge' like that. I shared with him how I too used to get so angry earlier with him. And how it always made me feel terrible inside later.

"Why did you get angry with me? Tell me more about it," he asked me. And so I told him how helpless I felt when none of the ways I had thought of had worked with him. How my anger simply reflected my fear of losing control. How I was scared of the future - how he would turn out. How I was scared that if I didn't control him then, I would never be able to control him.

"And how did you deal with your fears?", he said hugging me and kissing me.
"All that I know that I did was to face them...see them in the eye.....and know and understand which fear was ruling my mind.....after running away from them for years", I said. "Most often when we get angry, I think we are ruled by our fears," I added. "Maybe you could think about what you were scared about when you got angry," I said.
"I think I was scared because I could not remember how to build it again, and I wanted to because I did not like it broken," he said.
And we discussed ways he could try and recall how to build it, before the conversation drifted off elsewhere.

After a conversation with a friend, I realised even more clearly as to how I had responded to his anger from a space of not being okay with it and judging him and myself for that. I also wanted to find out from Raghav what he felt he had got when he broke his friend's ship and why he wanted to break it. And so I went back to him and asked him. This is what he said:
"I wanted to break his ship because I wanted to show him how angry I was and I could not think of a better way to show it."
Me: "So does that mean that if you found a better way of showing him how angry you were, you would not have done that?"
R: "Maybe.....but I also think that I could not have shown my anger in any other way....sometimes, you can't help it....you can't control your anger."
Me: "What did you think you would get when you broke it? And did you finally get what you wanted?"
R: "I only wanted to show my anger. I didn't want anything else. I didn't get anything by breaking it."
Me: "So what do you think you would do the next time? Would you do the same thing or try something different?"
R: "Try something else maybe......but maybe not. Because sometimes you just can't help it....I have to show my anger."

This incident and the conversation left me with many questions...
  • Why is anger such a mistreated emotion, which is almost treated like an outcast....to be done away with?
  • Can I make space to hold anger in myself and the other? By making space I mean getting comfortable with it......just like being with noise instead of running away and seeking out silence?
  • As a mother and a fellow human being, can I see and stay with another's 'meanness' instead of putting it down as something that needs to be changed or fixed according to my idea of what is not 'mean'?
  • When we are sad we cry and even wail sometimes, when we are happy or excited we laugh out loud and even scream sometimes, but when we are angry, we are not allowed to show it in a way we want to (without physically harming another person).....why? 
  • Why do we have this idea in our heads that anger harms? Is there another way of seeing anger?
  • Why do we look for moderation in everything, including emotions, and yet use the metaphor of emotions being like the waves in the ocean? Well waves can be wild and tempestuous too, not only gentle and cavorting isn't it?
  • Why do we want to control everything? Is it because we are too scared of losing control?

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