I grew up in a happy and well-balanced home, in fact, I had the perfect family…or so I thought. I was a happy child and teenager, but there was something holding me back and I had not idea what it was. The truth is, I didn’t realize there was violence in my home until I was an adult and went to see a therapist. She made me realize that even though I never saw my mom or dad hit each other, the yelling, name calling, put downs and slamming of things were forms of violence. You can imagine my surprise, because up until then I believed it was completely normal to yell, scream, throw things, slam doors, etc. I had no clue that these were forms of abuse that I had been exposed to.
As children usually do, I copied my parent’s behaviors and became a very angry person. It was easy for me to lose my cool with my siblings, friends, other family members and even strangers. My mom would tell me “watch your tone,” and I would be completely confused thinking “this is the same tone you use, its normal.” This ‘attitude’ of mine caused me a lot of pain, because it was difficult to get through my day-to-day life. The anger was debilitating and heavy to carry. I would tell myself “I’m not angry, I’m normal.” Well, I was incredibly angry and yes this was normal, given how I grew up and what I had learned at home.
Anger is a normal human emotion, which we all experience through the course of our lives. The problem is when we are not aware of our anger and we allow it to control us and take over our lives and relationships. I’ve learned that what I lived at home was emotional and psychological abuse and that it was not normal or okay. I’ve also learned that this had a long term effect on me and on all of my siblings. So, what could I do about this? What could help me heal and move on?
Here are the steps I followed to help myself get better:
Confront and accept my truth and my reality
Get help by going to therapy and telling my story to others
Learn to begin a process of letting go of underlying pain and hurt
Find a way to forgive those who hurt me and forgive myself
Learn to manage my emotions by using relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation
Know that this is an ongoing process and I need to work on myself every day
I’m not perfect and I will never be, but that’s okay. Today, I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Certified Anger Management Counselor. As such, I can utilize my experience to help others who might be dealing with similar difficulties.
Do you have a tiger inside you? Is it causing a lot of problems in your life? Are your relationships suffering? You can make a change. Take the first step by acknowledging and facing your inner tiger, and then follow the steps that will help you learn to tame it.
Mishka Kimball, MS, CAMC, LMFT #112986