Mommy Rage Recovery (Part 1) ~ My Anger Story

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help for moms with rage problems
As most people do, I have happy memories of childhood and some not-so happy memories.

My parents loved one another and stuck together through some extremely difficult times. My grandparents were always present at special occasions, and we visited with them often, but just like every family, we had issues. For us, those problems came in the form of verbal abuse, codependency, and rage. I don’t think that anyone intended to be overly-critical or unpredictable emotionally, but these characteristics defined their childhoods and became a part of their personalities, which was reflected in the fabric of our family.

The making of me

Unfortunately, the constant fluxes had a detrimental effect on who I was becoming, and by the time I reached the sixth grade with preteen hormones revving up, I was an emotional mess. I can remember moments when I thought no one would ever love me. When I was angry, I was extremely angry and would not hesitate to hit my brother… hard. I was even self-abusive. I would yell and scream just as I had seen displayed by family members so often in previous years.

As a young adult, most of my aggression turned inward, and it was not until I became a parent that I saw those tendencies towards rage and verbal abuse begin to rear their ugliness in my life again.

The mother of rage

I have a very distinct memory of changing Lira’s diaper. She was about 16 months old and was trying to roll away from me. I snapped and popped her bare bottom. The red welt was a vivid admission that I was losing control of who I was and who God wanted me to be. I asked my husband to leave and take her with him. He refused, committing to help me overcome this sin carried down generation after generation.

As I struggled to recover from being a rage-o-holic with my supportive husband by my side, the number of victories grew but moments of anger still studded a few of our days. I would fly into a rage and then experience tremendous guilt, curling into a ball in the corner of the kitchen and weeping over the emotional harm I was causing my family. However, I could not wallow in self-pity for long because I needed to remain consistent in my battle against the angry monster inside.

A promise of hope

Over the next few weeks, I plan to outline the steps I use to overcome “Mommy Rage.” I am not an expert and my advice cannot be considered a replacement for professional therapy. I am just a wife, a mom, a daughter, a Christian… trying to submit my heart and mind to the will of God and to break the chain of rage and verbal abuse that has been handed down through the generations.

You can expect complete honesty, and I ask you to pray for me because this is the hardest thing I have ever tried to write. However, because I believe that mommy rage is a hidden epidemic, I feel my story must be told.

I also want you to know that I am praying for you, the mom who is struggling just as I am. You are not alone and I want to take you by the hand and walk this path with you. Feel free to EMAIL ME if you are too embarrassed to leave a comment.

More from this series ~

Part Two: Quick Start Steps
Part Three: Learning to Relax
Part Four: The Power to Recover
FAQ

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Comments

  1. says

    ((<3)) The Lord bless and strengthen you. I just know this series is going to resonate with and help many women who struggle in desperate silence behind closed doors.

    • Nicole says

      I believe this issue is much more wide spread than many women would be willing to admit. Society has taught us that we are not allowed to have bad days, be weak, or lose control. We also have never been taught better ways to handle our emotions as our parents were raised to hide the rage in the same silent shame that we try to cover up.

    • Penny says

      Thank you, Carol Anne. Now you can see that I am not as brave as I appear to be. I was such a coward about writing this and I appreciate your prayers.

  2. Ana says

    Thank you for sharing!! I grew up with a undiagnosed bipolar father and mother stuggling to hold it all together. I love my family dearly and most days I feel confident as a wife and mother. Other days “it is all just too much” and the rage is aimed at my unsuspecting family. I don’t want to handle being overwhelmed in this way. Thank you for your bravery in sharing! Thank you for the support!

    • Penny says

      Bless you, Ana. I know that feeling so well… overwhelmed – over-react – Mommy guilt. I will be praying for you.

  3. VIcki Harris says

    I look forward to your sharing with us. I too have some rage moments..I grew up with an abusive mother who was enraged most of my growing up years..over the years of raising my son I have sought help to overcome that legacy….his teen years have proven to be quite the challenge so much so I am considering sending him to live with his dad, who is much more even keeled than I am…..thanks for sharing such a personal story with us

    • Penny says

      Oh, Vicki-my friend, I am going to pray that you will make the right decision for your family, whatever it might be, but I truly believe that you can overcome this heritage of rage. We just need to support once another with prayer.

  4. Nicole says

    This is a wonderful post. It is something that is so hard for many moms to admit to the world. I know I also have mommy rage, and yes…it is a learned behavior. I always feel guilty after the rage, but more than that I feel like a failure as a mother and wife. When I see my children throwing a tantrum and say or do something that I do during one of my fits of rage I am even more ashamed of what my children and learning from me. I always apologize and tell them I didn’t handle my feelings appropriately. I look forward to the rest of this series!

    • Penny says

      Thank you, Nicole. I have had tremendous Mommy Guilt so many times. I can remember crawling into a ball in the kitchen floor, my children peeking around the corner. Such a painful memory that I pray has escaped their young minds. Be encouraged. You are not alone!

  5. says

    I will be walking this blog post journey with you – your story sounds very similar to mine. Hugs and prayers as you follow the Lord’s leading to share your story publicly…many do not approve of that (I’ve been told this anyway – but I too continue to share my story publicly) – however, as someone who knows the negative power of secrecy…I applaud you for being open and sharing with others who, like me, need to stand together. Hugs and blessings! Dawn

    • Penny says

      Thank you, Dawn, for your kindness. The shame can be suffocating but I am trying to stifle the fear of what others will think to strip away the mask. I appreciate your encouragement very much.

  6. Mary says

    I struggle with anger/rage – it stems from being raised in an alcoholic home with an angry mother. I have become an angry mother too, and want to break the chain! I mostly get angry when I have lack of control over a situation, and when my kids are disobedient. I have been training them to be angry too. I look forward to the rest of your posts!

    • Penny says

      {{HUGS}} Mary, I pray that God would break the chain in your family. I understand the destructive pattern so well but there is hope. Be of good courage! You can do this.

    • Penny says

      It is okay to have those moments were you just cannot take anymore but the hard part is knowing how to react under those circumstances. I appreciate your support, Tracy. I will be praying for you.

    • Penny says

      Thank you, Kris. I understand the secrecy. No one wants to be labeled as an “unfit mother,” but in our shame, we do not seek the help and support we desperately need. I appreciate your prayers tremendously.

  7. Sara says

    Thank you for sharing this, and I look forward to future posts. I also struggle with rage, and while it is my own sin, it is something that I believe stems from the family culture I grew up in. I’m sad when I see similar behaviors in my children, and I pray daily for grace & patience in dealing with myself & my children. Thanks for tackling such a difficult issue.

    • Penny says

      Seeing our children follow the example we give is very hard, but the grace you are praying for is already there. I firmly believe that there is not a mistake I can make as a parent that will remove my children from the reach of God’s grace and His ability to use it in a mighty way in their lives. {{HUGS}} I will be praying for you.

  8. says

    I just wanted to say how brave you are for not only trying to change, but to share your journey with others. I think you are right – things like this go down from generation to generation and become so second nature it is hard to know how to break.
    Hugs!
    Beth =-)

    • Penny says

      Thank you, Beth. I do not feel very brave but greater is He who is in me than He who is in the world. God made it very clear that I was supposed to share this. To Him be the glory. :)

  9. Mary Prillaman says

    Thank you for taking on such a controversial, but oh-so-relevent, topic. I, too, grew up in an abusive home and am now the mother of a child with Asperger’s and sometimes I literally have to remove myself from his presence for fear of doing violence to him. As I struggle to deal with my issues and his, sometimes the feelings of guilt and inadequacy are overwhelming. I look forward to reading more.

    • Penny says

      Bless you, Mary. Having an Aspie definitely complicates things. If your son is anything like my daughter… she is so legalistic and is becoming so much like me. That hurts more than I can put into words but at the same time, she can send me into a fit faster than anyone. :(

  10. says

    Thank you for this post. This is something I struggle with also. My mother tended to be a hide your emotions person until she blew. When she blew, look out. My step-dad was a more verbal abusive person and sometimes physically abusive and tended to rage. I tend to be more like my mom, which isn’t necessarily good. It means when my hubby and I first got married, I tried so hard to hit him a few times and he always managed to just hold me. Then it died down quite a bit, until my son was born. As time went on, I learned that it was better to draw boundaries so you don’t feel the rage/emotion. This has primarily worked for me. Not completely. I always said I would not smack my son in the face, but if he had been born as a teenager I would have. Now he is 14 and oh, my gosh, it is a struggle.

    • Penny says

      I wonder what my life will be like when my children are teenagers. I was already developing those anger tendencies when I was a teen and my mother and I would fight face to face. Now, my daughter is so strong-willed. I need God to change me because I fear she will soon be battling this very same problem. I will certainly be praying for you, Skirnir.

  11. Lynne S. says

    This could… no scratch that… this IS me. I know I have to change and it’s hard. I have two children, one with special needs, and some days I just think I can’t do it anymore and I lose control. I’ve never physically abused my children, but often times verbal abuse is just a bad. Reality hit the other day when my 8 yr old daughter, who is not my special needs child, said “You’re always yelling at me, I can’t do anything right.” I can remember thinking the same thing as a child and how much that hurt. Even my husband comments on how much I raise my voice to the kids. I guess because that’s the way I was talked to as a child and it seems normal to me, but it’s not. I’m committing this very moment to heap more praise and love on my children and to stop the angry outbursts and yelling.

    • Penny says

      My heart breaks for you, Lynne. I know that it is difficult to make those commitments to be more positive and I will be praying for you. This might sound silly but it really does help if you keep a secret notebook and PLAN how you will bless your children each day. I will decide to be especially nice to each child X-number of times in each day and then try to get two of those special words/actions done before lunch so I only have one more thing to do before bed. It might be a hug, a kiss, a word of praise, a piece of chocolate, a private conversation… Tracking my progress helps me make it a habit. :)

  12. nonny says

    Praise AGod for HIS great work in your family! Praise God, He is renewing the years the locusts have eaten. He is SO good. Your sweet spirit is SO SHINING Christ’s redemptive love to your family and on here thousands of MOMs! Good work! Walk HIS path with your head held high for you are truly precious in His sight. I grew up in a rage-ing home. I understand. You are changing the tide for the generations (HUNDREDS, possibly!) of people who will be born in years ahead. ♥

  13. says

    This post really hits me. I struggle with rage also. I look forward to reading more. I will pray for you on your journey and ask that you also pray for me.

  14. says

    I had checked facebook on my phone today and just now had a chance to get on the laptop and read your post. I am SO glad that I did!
    I often act in ways that I don’t want to (I yell a lot) and then realize that I am acting the same way that I saw my mom act. I can see how my yelling hurts my two daughters and I’d love a little help in breaking the cycle.
    Thank you for doing this for all of us!

    • Penny says

      I am so sad to think of the pain my mother must feel in knowing that I struggle with the same rage she did. Our mothers never intended to harm us. These patterns are like grooves in a muddy dirt road. They get deeper and deeper and when they dry, the patterns are like cement. However, God can smooth the path when we commit to follow Him. Praying for you Jamie!

  15. Mo says

    Like many others have said, I also struggle with rage. Not frustration, not anger… RAGE. That is an ugly word. I know how difficult it probably was for you to write this post, but you must be relieved to know how many of us are out there. I grew up with verbally abusive parents and I vowed to never live my life like that. And here I am today, a mother of three displaying acts of rage toward my children. I feel so much guilt and shame. I do not want to be like this. EVER. AGAIN. It stops this very moment. PERIOD.
    Thank you for shedding light on this issue and I can’t wait to read the rest of this series.

    • Penny says

      Praying for your strength through your commitment, Mo. Please know that I am not completely recovered. I am MUCH different from what I once was since the rage has faded into a painful memory but there are still moments where my anger boils over. Recovery is a DAILY battle that I can only fight with God before me. You can do this. You can change. Don’t listen to the voices that will tell you there is no hope. {{HUGS}} to you. I will be praying for you by name.

  16. says

    Wow. I came here from a FB link that Kris (WUHS) posted. I am going to follow you through this and pray for you and all the women who God wants to read what you have to say. I am specifically praying for spiritual protection as you venture into a territory that God wants you to cover but the enemy does not. Thank you for being so bold to talk about something that I have hidden for years. I, too, have asked my husband to leave me and take the kids with him. I’ve said some awful things to them and I just simply pray that God gives them the grace to focus on what is true, good, right, and pure. You are a blessing and I thank you.

    • Penny says

      My heart cries with you. Admitting there is a problem is a HUGE step in the right direction. PRAISE GOD for a loving husband who wants to stand with you through this. I will be praying for you every morning this month. By the grace of God, we can overcome.

  17. Heather says

    What a brave, wonderful thing you are doing!! I’m sure you will touch more lives that you can imagine!! I look forward to reading along!!!

    • Penny says

      Thank you, Heather. I promise that I do not feel very brave. More shame than anything. But, I very much appreciate your encouragement. :)

  18. Jeannette says

    I was just praying about this last night. I have a 2 year old son and a baby girl due in December. Spanking has never worked with our son but I still find myself swatting him when I lose my patience and I have no idea why! It doesn’t teach him anything except to hit when you are angry and he doesn’t even understand why I am upset with him. My husband will be deploying sometime in the next few years and I’ll be left at home with the two little ones alone for at least a year. I look forward to hearing your words of experience and Godly wisdom on how I can be a better, more calm mom before I have to go it alone with just the babies, God, and myself.

    • says

      Wow, I am so glad that I have had my husband with me. Sometimes we each needed each other to stop the other from doing something we regret. Will you have someone close who you can call if you need to, like a mother, grandparent, in laws, or a good friend?

    • Penny says

      First off, I have to say thanks. Your sacrifice as a military wife is far more than I will ever experience. The habit to lose our temper becomes such a strong response that we go into automatic mode as soon as something triggers the anger. However, God is able to change us! He can take those reflexes away.

    • Nicole says

      It is so hard as a military wife. My husband was deployed for 2 out 3 births. For our youngest he was deployed 18 of her first 24 months. Rage is so much harder when you are stressed, alone, and away from family. Never be afraid to ask for help. I am stubborn and think I can do everything on my own until I just break down. I have learned to ask for help, although I am still not good at it. It seems military wives in particular have been conditioned to think they need to be both parents non-stop without flaw at all moments.

      • Penny says

        I just can’t imagine what it would be like to have my husband gone for an extended amount of time. We often tease about what would happen if someone like Sting or Harry Connick Jr asked him to go on the road with him (and play his saxophone). I would be happy for him but crazy-scared inside.

  19. Mandy says

    I can’t even comment through the tears. I will most certainly be following this. You’re such a joy to my life. Your sharing on this particular subject came as an answer to prayers. I can’t even put into words…

    I’m anxiously waiting for Mondays now. :)

    • Penny says

      Bless you, Mandy. Oh, how I wish I could have all of you over for coffee or tea. To hold your hand as you cry and give you hugs. I understand your pain. {{HUGS}}

  20. Theresa says

    Thanks for your honesty! It is so hard to be a mom…especially a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. Lately, I have had a lot of blowing up screaming at my little ones. I keep praying for more patience, and I feel horrible that I yell at them. It is like unless I yell, they don’t listen. They do not deserve to be yelled at, but it is so hard not to. I will continue to pray for patience, and will be working on ways to redirect my anger/loss of patience. Maybe it’s time to start exercising again… thank you so much for writing this series!

    • Penny says

      Hi Theresa. Yes, I agree that it is hard to maintain a level head when we are with our children 24/7. That is why it is so important that we learn to relax and give ourselves permission to put Daddy in charge or call a sitter so we can have an hour or so by ourselves. I am SO guilty of putting myself last and it shows when I am battling a bad day. I also think we condition our children to not react until we yell. They know that they don’t have to do what we want until we raise our voices and so they wait for it. Thanks so much for your comment. :)

  21. says

    Thank you for posting this, and I can not wait to read more! It is definitely something I struggle with on a daily basis. I have been looking for ways to get help but just so unsure of where to turn. I was seeing a counselor for a while, but unfortunately it was not the right person for the situation/issues that we deal with in our house and while she really did try her best, it just didn’t work out. Right now is the perfect timing for you to do this and for me to have found it!!! Thank you God !

    • Penny says

      God always has a plan. I must advise you though that I am not a counselor and have no training in mental/physical health. I’m just a lady who has been through it and wants to help others get the help, in whatever form it might be, that they need. I’m glad you are here. :)

  22. says

    Thank you so much for your courage and your transparency. I too was an emotional wreck. I have come a long way since the beginning of my marriage and my first baby. I no longer curl up in the ball in the back of the closet in anguish. I no longer hysterically call my husband at work and beg for him to come home to help me. Anger outbursts are so much milder and quite a bit fewer, but still they still occur. It’s an issue that I will always work on, with God’s healing and help.

    • Penny says

      I agree that it is a constant process. I am so glad that you have grown and are able to control your reactions. Please feel free to reply to other mothers when you feel you can offer encouragement. :)

  23. says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for following the leading of the Holy Spirit and writing this. I could have written your first few paragraphs, having grown up in an extremely similar situation. After getting saved in college and having kids young,, I still have not come to grips with how to control my anger. I’trier ruffled with turning into the happy church mom, whenever I see friends, rather than being real and asking for help. I’m looking forward to reading your posts! I will pray we will all be free from anger and the guilt that follows.

    • Penny says

      That’s a fabulous prayer, Jackie. Thank you so much for your comment. I agree that being real with other moms can be hard but it is so necessary even if it is only to the ONE we can trust. Just pray and ask God to reveal to you who you can talk to without fear. :)

  24. Stephanie says

    Girl, you just spoke to my heart. My husband actually sat me down last night and told me that I’ve become mean. Want to talk about how much it hurt to hear that? It shook me to my core. I know, as in I physically feel, how grumpy I am and how low my patience has become. I was raised in a home with emotionally/verbally abusive parents. I never wanted to be like them. As a parent of some stubborn teens, it isn’t gonna be all cupcakes and unicorns, but I want to enjoy what little time I have left with them.
    I can’t wait for your next installment. And as you can tell by all the comments you’ve received, Mommy Rage is indeed a widespread problem.

    • Penny says

      Oh, Stephanie. I bet that was very difficult to hear, and it probably is going to be harder for you than me because your teens have already been exposed to the anger pattern. If they are anything like I was, they will probably try to go toe-to-toe with you and that rage-instinct is going to make you want to flip out. FIGHT IT. Your family is worth every ounce of effort you can put into changing your reactions. I am adding you to my prayer list.

    • says

      That is what has surprised me thus far. A lot more comments than I would have expected from others in a similar boat. I have tried over the years to somewhat share my problem with church, but always been afraid to, and so only was a bit vague. I am glad others are coming out too, as now I know it isn’t just me. I have known it wasn’t just me, but now I can see that too and experience that, if you know what I mean.

  25. says

    This is something I definitely struggle with and have felt God dealing with my heart over for some time now. It’s one of the hardest things to fight against though and I feel like I fail so miserably time and again! Thanks so much for your willingness to share your heart. I really look forward to reading the rest of the series and hopefully finding encouragement and help from it!

    • Penny says

      God’s mercies are new every morning. Never give up trying. Take just one step each day. Even if change happens slowly, it is STILL change. :)

  26. says

    I am a Mother of 8 kids and 6 are at home now. Four of which are teens. I have no idea what has happened to me. I find myself yelling more than I ever did and just feeling so frustrated and angry. Two of them well actually three are special needs. I homeschool five of them and need to find my soft sweet side all the time. I get most frustrated because I feel like they dont take me serious. I never want to be like my Mother was. I know they all know I love them but I sometimes hear myself and think holy cow I sound like her. I don’t hit or abuse my kids as I was physically and emotionally abused also. I just seem to yell to get them to hear what I’m telling them. I am so thankful for this blog and pray it helps me!

  27. says

    Oh can I relate. You are not kidding about guarding daily against the anger and rage. I had no idea the very children I desired and snuggled and love so much could also fire up in me intense rage. I have made tons of progress over the last 10 years, but I am always encouraged by other stories and looking for tips to do better.

  28. Wanda says

    Thank you for being so transparent! So often we feel alone, as if we are the only one that struggles with issues like this. May God bless you and your family.

  29. Angela says

    I am here. This is me and I so desperately want this to end for me and my children. No more family curse! Thank you God for getting me here.

  30. says

    I am with all of you in prayer. Please pray for me. I have been working hard these last few months to spot my cycle of rage and verbal abuse and turn it around to be pleasing to God. I started my blog particularly with this in mind, but I have not share this motive with anyone, until now!

    Lord, be with us all, to change the deepest, darkest secrets of our hearts. Allow us to grow and trust that you WILL bring us out of our sin, to be a glory and testament to you and our families. Amen.

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