You see, as a kid, I was a big door slammer. Whenever I was angry, I would stomp into my room and slam the door behind me.
This wasn't merely teenage angst, though. It was so much more than hormones. In fact, door slamming was my one and only show of power during a time when I felt totally and completely powerless and invisible at home.
This habit of mine enraged my father. And that was partly the point. I was normally compliant and obedient, but I persisted in slamming my door when seriously angry because I felt like it was the only thing I could do.
As much as I love my dad, he never listened to me. More than that, he often mocked my feelings, calling me a "baby" on a regular basis. He even encouraged my siblings to join in. When I get angry, I often get emotional, and as soon as that would happen, my father would jeer at me and refuse to listen to what I was saying.
In my father's defense, I now realize he likely has un-diagnosed Asperger's Syndrome, which could explain why my emotional displays were so incredibly infuriating and uncomfortable for him.
Still, that doesn't undo the damage that he inflicted by refusing to ever validate, or even listen to and respect, my feelings. It is no wonder that I believed that my emotional displays were evidence of my inherent weakness. After all, no one ever told me it was okay to cry when sad. No one ever took the time to listen to why I was angry. No one gave me permission to feel. Instead, I was repeatedly labeled "too sensitive" or "a baby" or "a cry baby."
So, I did the only thing that would elicit a different response. I slammed my door. It was my one act of power. The one way to be heard.
Sure, it pissed my father off mightily, but that felt good. I never felt like a baby when I made my dad mad; I felt powerful.
Though I am now 40, my dad still makes fun of me and my adolescent door slamming. He predicts that my kids will follow in my footsteps, and he assumes it will enrage me, as it did him.
I haven't told him about Charlotte's new habit; his smug answer would just be too much for me to handle. Plus he wouldn't believe me if I told him that the door slamming doesn't really bother me all that much. Instead of getting angry, it makes me look at my interaction with Charlotte. Is she just angry because I disciplined her or does she feel like no one is listening to her?
When I hear that echoing slam, I remember that I want my kids to know I hear them, that I value their feelings and opinions. We may not agree, and I won't always be able to make them happy, but I can listen. I can validate.
And I will never call them a "baby," because I don't want my kids to think that emotions are a sign of weakness.
"I have this theory that if we're told we're bad,
then that's the only idea we'll ever have"
For more posts on the topic of "words" please visit the Spin Cycle at Second Blooming!