To be fair, my father taught me displaced anger was okay. My mother just didn’t challenge what was being practiced and preached in my house on a routine – perhaps making her a perpetrator, perhaps a victim. Perhaps both.
That’s what my childhood has been. Dad getting angry over the smallest of things and then never, not once, saying sorry. And then rationalising that anger over something I did days ago, telling me it was a cumulation of things that led to the violent outburst and physical and emotional abuse.
And that’s when I learned that getting mad at people, over something that happened ages ago is okay. That’s when I learned that yelling and slapping someone because of work pressures is okay. Because that’s what I’d been witnessing and that’s what I was told time and again.
Not once did they admit their mistake.
Not once did I realise what I was internalising.
And now, at 19, I have to fight to control my anger, I have to tell myself that I cannot yell at the cabbie because my friends were mean to me. Sometimes I lose the battle and I yell and there is no greater guilt that hurting someone, intentionally or unintentionally, with no fault of their’s.
So parents and guardians, please. Don’t make the mistake that my parents made, and continue to make. Please don’t let your kids believe that it is okay for you to be short tempered because of the deadlines or the bills or their behaviour a month ago. Yes, sometimes you will snap. I understand that. But make sure you talk to them and explain to them that it was not okay. And say sorry. It won’t make you any less of a human being. It will indeed make your children feel safer and more trusting. It will help them learn the value of a sincere apology, along with acknowledge the fact that you aren’t perfect but that you’re trying very, very hard to be. They will appreciate it. I promise.
And to everyone else who has a family like mine, well. I don’t know what to say except that sometimes it sucks. Sometimes you have to ignore it and the other times fight back. But most of all, realise that your parents aren’t ideal. They try hard, but they are not ideal. Try to ingrain the best of them – their selflessness and their ambitions and their planning skills – but not their vices. More often than not, they love you with everything they have in them. Sometimes they lose their cool, and it leaves a scar on you. Maybe they will never even acknowledge their mistake, never mind mending things. And you will feel so hurt and betrayed but there is nothing you can do but let it go. It will feel better when you learn to forget some things.
And well, it is a struggle for both. Adults have their targets and challenges and it is difficult for them to change themselves. Adolescents and young adults are so lost in this world with their low self esteem and crazy competition, that we refuse to see the world from different perspectives. It’s a mad, mad world, for both you and your parents.
You may not be able to change them, but maybe you’ll be able to make it less painful for you.