I’ve written about anger before …
In poems for my memoir ….
Anger itself is not violent, but when left to fester, it can become a hurricane sweeping through the Caribbean to Florida up through my home state, South Carolina. Those storms are never forgotten.
The reason I write about my experience with anger, just like my memoir, is to tell a story and maybe at least one person will realize he or she is not alone.
I’m not naturally an angry person. On my best days, I like to reach out to people. Sometimes I sit back and listen.
When I was younger, I was more naive and opened up to people more easily.
From where come my anger’s origins?
There are many experiences for which I have felt anger, but at its heart …
…. was the feeling of complete professional failure when my husband and I lost our first home, and I gave up time …
with my son.
Excerpt from Never Saw Jesus in the Mirror
(Title Poem in Memoir)
“I never saw Jesus in the mirror. No blue-eyed saint from a Venetian religious piece on display in an art museum. People in my hometown, Peach Corner, said, ‘Isn’t your mom amazing?’ They would say. ‘She was my favorite teacher.’ I shook my head and said, ‘Sure.’ I thought about the times she’d come home after school and laid down. The only time I looked for her in the mirror was to see if I’d gained weight, or evidence of a weary face revealing the me who didn’t want to read anymore after reading to and with students all day. Hayes asked me to read to him ten times or more.
Bad daughter? Admitted.
Bad mom? Admitted.
I never saw a preacher glance at her Bible from a pulpit and lower her voice for her final summation in the mirror. I never saw my dad in the mirror, but I walked behind him on the day when he first served the church. He walked on the sanctuary’s blue carpet—the color of old hospital walls. He pulled a vacuum out of the sanctuary closet, and began to clean the sanctuary floors. That was 1997, and the day I discovered my second favorite hiding spot in the church when the youth group played the game, Lights Out. (My favorite hiding place was the top of the commode in the boys’ bathroom sitting cross-legged.) Dad joined the choir, and he was almost always the first person to shake the new pastor’s hand.
Choir ladies held my hand, and said, “Your father does so much for our church.” With white-gray bobs, the same women said, “You have a beautiful voice. Why don’t you sing in the choir with your father?” They saw my dad as a hometown saint, and at one time, I had a scholarship to some small college for singing. One day, I stopped singing in public, and I shrugged my shoulders. I sing to my son, I thought.
I admit Dad became a certified family saint when he helped with my family’s rent because Ben’s paycheck still hadn’t arrived. Mom and Dad took us in when we were evicted. When I looked in the mirror, I saw a mother with a small log at the bottom of her stomach left over from baby weight, who feared judgment from old choir ladies and mom’s former students. Why? Because I would always be seen as a helpless; maybe hapless child who could not buy a house for her family. I admit I never saw Jesus in the mirror.
My Daughter and Postpartum
Since my daughter’s birth, my anger grew from postpartum depression because the anger itself was under the surface.
It is–and was–never my daughter’s fault.
The anger came from a storm deep within. Any person or thing that took more time than necessary from my children felt my furry. There are a lot of experiences I’m good at describing, but the absolute and total depression I felt when leaving my children during my internship and to drive 45 minutes away to my first teaching job was almost inconsolable. When my son told me a few months ago after I was already experiencing a difficult first year in my job, “Why are you coming home so late? I want you home”;
I thought my heart would burst.
When a former, indirect adviser — from a different department in my college — told me I had to attend a mandatory meeting for teacher candidates over my son’s IEP meeting with about six teachers and a principal to determine whether or not to move Hayes to a different school because of his behavior, I exploded. I mean, plain out exploded in email at this person.
How can you, I thought, in an age where you’re competing with the University of Phoenix and other online universities to recruit working students and parents tell me I must choose this meeting over my son?
Rage, like a light rain, quickly fades. I regretted wording my email the way I did.
I also regret requesting that six teachers and a principal reschedule the IEP and decision because of the demand that I attend this meeting.
Yes, I was angry, but not all of the time. Near the end of my first school year, I realized I needed to go back to therapy.
You know, it’s okay.
I take medicine.
I began working out and writing again. I took time for my kids without feeling guilty for not completing any job.
I forgave others.
Then I forgave myself.
Not only did I start working out the whole body like I used to, I began eating better and keeping a fitness journal. In this fitness and health journal, I began writing Bible verses down. I had not done this since I was a teenager. If I am going to be a good teacher, I have to take care of the tools. The first tool is me.
I have a wonderful education and background. I have two wonderful children and an absolutely, amazing husband, who has been through the thick and thin with me. I have a new job in a wonderful district to which I’m moving my children.
I was told today.
“There is no reason your son should be on a modified education plan because he is high functioning and clearly smart.”
I cried for joy. I cried because someone wasn’t just going to throw my baby into a cage. Someone understood his specific needs, and they’re placing him in the exact class to help him manage his behavior and reactions.
When I tell you God held my hand today, I felt it.
When I tell you it is not easy to talk about my faith, believe me.
When I tell you someone saw my son as a person, and not his disability or demanded I take time from him; I will break down in tears.
When I tell you no, I never saw Jesus in the mirror, but I saw a hope for my son’s future where he wouldn’t just be a number or …
a date I had to change.
A special thanks to everyone, including my husband, parents, mentor teachers, and friends who took this journey with me.