Friday, 13 January 2012

Letting go of those emotions

A favourite person in all the universe (they run home ed sessions IN THEIR FRONT ROOM and invite my kids to SLEEPOVERS) just wrote something which really chimed in my brain.

To the effect of, Which is more satisfying? Aggravated assault or departing the family home?

I have now tried many approaches to this fundamental problem: being in the company of your own family all day long.

How do you get rid of the anger, deal with frustration, and free yourself from the relentless double binds which children impose on you? Thanks to years of being in company with my own, I can clearly see the many strategies available to the demented full-time mother caught up in the daily maelstrom of the argument with kids.

What best to do?

1. Hide in the cupboard under the stairs with a bottle of brandy.
A strategy with obvious disadvantages. The thudding on the stairs is amplified and you continue to hear the smash of hurled objects. The insults I hate you poopy brain get out of my life I never want to see you again etc etc., all echo in your chamber.

On the plus side, a dark cupboard does offer the safe regression to the womb and, in the brandy, the comfort of the amniotic fluid.

So, as a strategy for your emotional escape, doable. (Unless you have foolishly turned the space into a 'computer room' with an unturnoffable fluorescent light and no door.)

2. Kick the shit out of the kitchen bin.
As an emotional release, extremely satisfying. But only in the short term. Maybe for about two minutes. Say, until your big toe hurts, or you realise the kitchen bin you have irretrievably dented cost you two hundred quid and boasted a state-of-the-art Philippe Starck foot pedal. Then you don't feel so good.

(It may be why our kitchen bin is now a plastic bag hanging from a nail, but I'm admitting to nothing.)

3. Slam the crockery.
Class-related emotional therapy. You can smash an Ikea dinner plate into the pot sink, sure! When you chip it, crack it, or it explodes, you can buy two more for under a fiver, so not much loss. In fact a price worth paying rather than two years in prison.

I have found, however, that with Minton or Royal Doulton in my furious hands, the whole catharsis becomes much more problematic. At the final throwing moment my brain must tot up the damage.

Then again, the superior range of dinner plates can take a lot of bashing.

Hmm, if you are a crockery thrower, worth investing in the best, in my opinion, to ensure they last the emotional damage.

4. Adopt a serious face.
Completely rubbish strategy with no merit whatsoever. Your true emotions have no outlet. Denying your feelings and placing them under the added pressure to be an uber parent will guarantee your anger furiously boils up inside you like a volcano. When the crust on your face ruptures, you can be sure it is going to be bad.

5. Threaten stuff.
Grounding. No TV for ever. Bed without supper. Incineration of Mr Flopsy, etc. etc. As a strategy this serves your need to control rather than release your emotional tension.

I have also found the strategy requires a certain steely heart and a dedication to emotional cruelty. I have tried it, of course, on many occasions, but am fundamentally spineless therefore fail to see it through effectively. If I have confiscated Mr Flopsy I invariably return it five minutes later with a backsliding excuse to cover my weak resolve. After ten minutes I will issue a grovelling apology. Therefore, no release of emotional energy whatsoever. Only the addition of misery and guilt.

I cannot recommend this strategy. Well, only if you are a heartless bitch with a control agenda and a mind set on revenge.

6. Hit someone.
Have I hit my children? Of course I have. Shark once threw a shovel at my head. What do you expect me to do? Turn the other cheek so she can decapitate me with a mallet?

Parents lash out because they are people who probably have had enough, haven't slept for a week, and they're facing the horrible realisation that their marriage has ended. Cut them some slack you moral idiots and stop trying to make people feel more guilty than they already do.

Now that's out the way, I can say, as a considered strategy for emotional release, hitting is a simple non-starter. After they recover their senses from their moment of shock, the kids hit you back.

7. Shout.
Emotionally satisfying in the immediate experience, but eventually futile. It gains only a headache, sore throat, and bad feeling. Made even worse after the neighbours complain, indicating they heard every word.

8. Eat the kid chocolate stash in front of them.
This strategy can work well, especially if you are on medication which does not permit alcohol abuse yet you still require some emotional support.

The downsides are that the kids never notice; they are too engaged in thumping each other. And, if you are going through a bad patch, it guarantees your enormous arse in a mere two weeks.

9. Make grand moral statements.
This strategy is typical of many holier-than-thou parenting strategies, usually scattered about by people who never stared a determined five-year old in the face.

In my view, grand moral statements are not much good in an emergency: discussions on how to run a happy family using Aristotelian precepts are essentially intellectual, therefore do not release your emotional tension.

Anyway, the kids can't hear because they are yelling, and even to your ears you sound like a tosser. Save it till over dinner when everyone has calmed down and their mouths are full of pasta.

10. Go berserk.
Throw yourself from a window, hang yourself from the stairs, put your head in the gas oven, etc. etc.

A really bad strategy to deal with overwhelming emotions, and one I have not tried, obviously, although I have entertained it on more than one occasion.

The state of mind needed for self-annihilation is one where you totally fail to see any funny side of living. There is a funny side. Of course there is. There must be. If there wasn't, we'd all be dead.

However, in the middle of tense and emotional situations, when you are seeking escape or release, I know that humour is difficult to find ...which is why I endorse the only strategy for emotional escape that ever truly works.

11. Leave the house.
Slam the door behind you. Kick it. Call your children cruel and horrible names under your breath, then stomp about with a face like a slapped arse until people stare, or until you feel a bit foolish.

But remember, when you return in a fudge of self-justification, righteousness, and shame, it is humiliating to ring your own front door bell, then stand there five minutes, waiting until your eight-year old with a grudge over your failure to provide strawberry sauce decides whether they'll let you back into the house, or not.

So don't forget the door keys.


kelly said...

I've gone and sat in the car's quite safe. I can see the kids through the window. I can turn the radio on and not can be the best ten minutes of the day. Now we live in the wild, I tend to stick coffee in a non spill cup and slope off to the lake all alone....and try and go all zen on the boardwalk....and now I sound like a total tosser who is showing off that she has a lake. It's just a big pond really.

Nora said...

You can´t win for losing, can you? I think you´ll have to go down to the beach, with your house keys, and not come back for an hour. The worst of the battle should be over by then, especially if you´re not there as the audience.

Big mamma frog said...

I stayed in the loft for a whole day once. I felt better, until I got down and found the mess that the kids had left around the house (think food fight in toys r us warehouse).

RuralDiversity said...

you have one sentence in here that's made me feel all good and zen-like and like I can master the emotional shit having a family throws at me because I'm not so stupid after all. Thank you. And I'll leave you guessing which one it is.

KP Nuts said...

I imagine I am that bit in the Simpsons when the monkeys bang the symbols in Homer's brain. That helps.