A few years ago, I promised my children that I would not yell and storm at them when it was time to do their chores. After a bit of trial and error, I successfully reigned in Mommy Mean. I felt relief when I no longer saw my boys’ tear-stained faces staring at me in fear. I felt like I was a better person after taming my temper.
A couple of years later, while married to my abuser, I extended my “no yelling” policy to my husband, too. Although I wasn’t quite as successful when it came to him, my participation in our once habitual yelling matches dwindled significantly. I still felt the pain and anguish, but I no longer fought fire with fire (that never worked anyway).
On the night I left, during the build-up to the main event, my husband quietly asked me, “Why don’t you get mad no more?” as he traced the vertical line etched from anger between my eyebrows. I think he missed my displays of anger. I think he missed having someone to out-yell, someone to conquer, someone to reduce from hell-fire to tears.