Yelling is abuse. Period.

6 years ago

I wrote a post a few days ago about those small random moments, the ones that change the course of our lives.

I've been thinking a lot about that post and about all the moments I didn't include but wanted to. There was a moment I thought of at the time I wrote the post, but I left it out at the time. On retrospect, I suppose that was good, because really, what came before it and what came after it are really more fitting for a longer piece, and I think there are certain subjects we don't write or talk about enough.

A small moment: I am in my bathrobe, it is a weekday morning in the summer. I've just come out of the shower, not because I was done showering, but because I heard voices raised to a level that frightened me and a sound like a gunshot and as my heart is trying to burst out of my chest I jump out of the shower, grab my robe and wrap it around my dripping self, not caring what I look like but hoping nobody has been hurt.

No one was hurt. A kitten got where a kitten wasn't wanted to be. Screaming and yelling ensued, followed by the slamming of a door.

Not an unusual occurrence back then. In fact, this occurred so often, sometimes several times a day, that I am in retrospect surprised that this particular incident had my adrenaline racing through my veins the way it did. Anything could set it off. A spilled glass of juice. A dropped utensil or dinnerware. An animal mess. A bed-wetting incident. The stress spiraled and rose on hot turbulent clouds until in retrospect it seems that everything was always a mad tumble of yelling, slamming and crying. I know that's not really true. There were good days. There were good times and good memories, moments of tenderness and caring. That wasn't all there was to things, but eventually it reached the point that it blotted out the good and the tightrope I walked to try and keep everyone in line so there wouldn't be an explosion thinned to where I knew I was going to fall off and shatter into a million pieces.

Photo by Deiby.

I sat down on my bed. I cried, as I often did. And then something occurred to me that had never occurred to me before: This is what the rest of your life is going to be like if you don't do something about it.

The rest of my life suddenly seemed too high a price to pay.

I was not a perfect partner. I was codependent. I am pushy. I think I am right about a lot of things and I get really angry when people don't listen to me.

The environment was challenging. It is incredibly stressful to deal with a toddler whose bipolar manifested early and hard. I am not blaming my children. I am saying that it was hard. Sometimes relationships fail the stress test - that simply means we weren't compatible and there were things we were dealing with that illustrated this fact in a very intense way.

There were a lot of things wrong.

I was never hit. Not ever.

But don't ever let anyone convince you that just because they aren't hitting doesn't mean they aren't making you afraid. Having someone screaming at the top of their lungs as they slam things, punch holes in walls, kick inanimate objects, stalk around in angry circles, having this happen on a daily basis, many times more than once in a day, it is frightening. It is abuse.

Did he mean to be that way? Absolutely not. But he was. And it was terrible to live with.

The worst part of it, the part that haunts me to this day was that by the time I came to the realization that I needed him to leave, I was yelling too - yelling at him, yelling at my children, yelling at myself. Sometimes standing in an empty house and screaming at the top of my lungs. I was yelling at my children. Abusing them by yelling at them, just as he was doing, and it made me the same as him. He wasn't responsible for my behavior, I was.

This is what the rest of your life is going to be like if you don't do something about it.

I want to tell you there's a happy ending. There is, mostly. It's been two years now since he left. He has gotten better. I have gotten better. I feel as though I am slowly shedding the weight of all that anger and fear. But there are still days when I feel my life spinning out of control and as my adrenaline increases so does my will to keep my voice from rising to the top of the ceiling. It's hard. But it is getting better.

Mary a/k/a BarnMaven blogs at about single parenting, living with ADHD, too many animals to count and dealing with ADHD/Bipolar kids.

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