I Am Allowed to Scream!
I knew I was feeling off that evening.
I had just gotten back from an amazing and inspiring trip to Joshua Tree where I attended Babe Town Fest and it was my first real night back, sitting down to dinner with my daughter and husband. They were both vying for my attention and talking to me at the same time. My husband was saying something that I did not like or agree with and my daughter was trying to have me focus on what she was doing and I really wanted to have a quiet evening. So, I screamed…that was not my initial intended reaction, but that was what happened.
My daughter started crying and my husband gave me a surprised and disappointed look. I immediately started to feel guilty for expressing an emotion that in my body felt necessary. Other times, I would have just stuffed whatever feeling I was having, like frustration, into my body so that I could continue to appear to be the mom and wife where nothing bothers her and where I am always “on”. I no longer wanted to feel that way.
I had recently run into an article in the NYT called The Rage Mothers Don’t Talk About where it quotes that “mothers are supposed to be patient martyrs, so our rage festers beneath our shame.” It is a very well written article and despite the fact that I have very rarely felt rage towards my child, I have felt frustration and exasperation and sometimes, I do want to scream and at times, at her because it can be too much to handle.
I remember having read about Robert Sapolsky’s work and his book, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers and how most animals deal with stress after having been chased. A zebra, after having evaded their predator, will literally shake their body in order to let go of their stress so that way it can no longer affect them. After hearing of this technique, I have actually done this practice a few times. After being cut off when driving, yes, I will tailgate the person who cut me off for a few seconds, but then I will breath, let out a huge sigh and do a little shake to let go of any anger that I might be holding on to and no longer closely follow the car in front of me. I have even been known to scream in my car because I was so pissed off. I see this as being quite similar to “shaking it off”, I at least vocalize my anger and frustration and toss it into the wind.
How unfortunate that as women and, even more so as mothers, that showing any other type of emotion other than love and kindness can bring about shame for us. That was exactly what I felt after I let out my scream in front of my daughter and husband. I later apologized to my daughter for getting her upset and explained my reasoning. I always encourage her to show her emotions and share them as well, I should also be free to do the same. I couldn’t even look at my husband for the first few hours after it occurred. That is not my norm, it is out of character and not what I should have done was the thinking in my mind.
But who am I to say what is normal for me, or what my true character is when it has been suppressed for so long that I am afraid to really show my true colors. My weekend in Joshua Tree not only opened up my eyes and heart to what I have been allowing in my life to tell me what is and is not appropriate, but that I can choose my new normal if I want. I can take on a different character and still have it be me, but maybe a more assertive, confident and empowered me.