I am mad.
I have been mad for about six years now.
Really mad for at least three.
The birth of my third child was a turning point for me. Car seat screaming, two toddlers under three with a newborn, and life was really hard. I was really mad that it was hard.
It didn’t happen overnight, but eventually I stopped just getting mad, and starting becoming mad. I know the difference is subtle, but it’s also very distinct. I stopped FEELING mad, and started thinking of myself as a mad person.
Over the course of the next three years, I very unintentionally continued to reinforce the idea that I was a mad person by being mad more often than I wasn’t. The list of things that made me mad was long and quite exhausting. Having to wake up, having to go to bed, having to deal with problems, having to clean messes. It made me mad when there was no coffee. It made me mad when I had to make dinner AND clean dinner. It made me mad when I didn’t make dinner, and we had to eat out.
Are you seeing a trend here? When I stop and put my mind to it, when I really think about it, there really wasn’t anything that DIDN’T make me mad.
It was exhausting, and not a nice way to live.
Today, Saturday morning, on one of my very rare chances to sleep in, my three year old came upstairs and pounded on the door for me to wake up. I was IMMEDIATELY mad. Where is his father? Why is he letting him do this? Why can’t he just let me sleep? I JUST want to sleep in ONE TIME. He’s going to wake up the baby! My inner dialogue was JUST so angry.
I laid there, kind of detached, and observed my brain spinning out in anger. One part of my brain was just so mad, and another was asking why. Why? Why am I so mad? What if I just… wasn’t?
And then I suddenly wondered… who am I if I’m not mad?
And then I realized, quite painfully, that I have made anger part of my identity. I have become so deeply identified with being angry all the time that I don’t know who I am if I am not mad.
One of the consequences of this realization was that it completely diffused my anger. I was immediately calm. However, it begs the question: “Who do I want to be instead?”
If I can become angry Mandy by deciding that I am mad all the time, I can become someone else.
I can become calm Mandy.
I can become energetic Mandy.
I can become peaceful Mandy.
I can become tidy Mandy.
I can become all of these things. I can become any of these things. All I have to do is decide that I’m going to become them, and decide that I’m NOT going to be angry and mad anymore.
I know that sounds like it would be really easy. I have a feeling it’s not going to be easy at all. But the realization and actualization is there – I know that I decided (perhaps unconsciously) that I was going to become mad. Now I have decided VERY consciously, that I’m not going to be that way anymore.