Tantrums A La Carte

He is pouting after his tantrum last night.


Not brooding, not contemplative, not introspective.

Like a three year old, caught teasing a playmate by holding out a toy then snatching it away.  Placed in time-out by his patience wearied mother,  tries to buy his mom’s forgiveness by offering her a leaf he picked up off the ground.  His mother, coming to recognize the ploys and tests of her child, sternly tells him to go back to his corner and think about what he had done, unswayed.   But, he thinks to himself with all his childhood anger and sense of defeat, if I give someone something they are supposed to get happy and smile for me and let me get out of the corner!  So the errant toddler cries harder and louder to make it clear the depth of the injustice that freedom from consequence could not be bought.  It is all his mother’s fault for making him have consequences!  It is his playmate’s fault for daring to call attention to his selfish acts!  It is the God’s fault for not giving him everything he wants!  And when no one heeds his screams, his lip comes out and he feels the weight of his self pity and wants everyone to see just how cruelly he was treated.

I think children are supposed to grow out of this.  Somewhere they come to realize that taunting your friends creates more than just an external punishment, but that your friends won’t like you anymore.  And having your friends not like you can hurt, and if you really like your friends, you don’t want them to hurt or you to hurt.  I’m not sure when that shift occurs, or why.   I think I need to study this change more deeply, so I can comprehend.

He never reached that change.  He lets his emotions rule his thinking, and his emotions are no older than a five year old, most likely three, possibly two.  Or less.  He was drastically, emotionally incested.  He was the only place his broken spirited mother could cling, could rely on, could own.  I try not to blame him for his severe, selfish, infantile, cruel flaws.  I try to be understanding with his tantrums and his fears and his deceptions to protect his soft inner core.  I try.  Then he lies while staring deep into my eyes again, or plays another mind game, or attacks me for standing up for myself, or throws a tantrum far out of proportion to the injury. 

He hurts me.  He hurts me because I care, and so I will hurt.  As he couldn’t hurt his mother, or his father, or the world.

He is a selfish, angry little boy with a stick, poking the mortally wounded cat, fascinated by its piteous mews of pain.

Perhaps he is my darkest mirror.  All the dark, shadowed, cruel images from every person in my childhood, every vampire sucking moment, every betrayal out of the blue, those are what he is composed of.  If I gaze upon his likeness long enough, burned into my brain will be all the horrible emotions I try to rework into light and love, all the miserable thoughts I try to reconstruct into positives and opportunities for growth, all the denials and games and mental gymnastics required to hate oneself and the world that I try to see that flip side and consider there is more than I might have at first perceived.  If I worried my mother’s death would leave me with no mirror to see all those things I didn’t want to become, to be, ways to never behave, I have only to look at the man I married to see every single one.  self-pity.  head games.  blatant hypocrisy.  cruel words.  broken promises.  empty commitments.  self hate.  self-destruction.  addiction.  thoughtless words.  self-absorption.  derision.  blame.  lying about every thought, feeling, action, desire, to themselves and the world.

I write this out so calmly.  As if my insides weren’t screaming in terror and pain and utter confusion.  As if I didn’t feel like I were falling eternally, endlessly, gasping for breath, snatching at cobwebs for vain hope of slowing, finding up, not crashing to a splat of lifelessness when I finally find bottom.  My guts are bloody as I drag myself along the gravel of the pit, which was once a well of darkness but now is a vast open scar where the sun beats me blistered and the rocks trick me by sliding me ever into the center, no matter how long and how hard I crawl to escape. 

And he throws a tantrum, and I don’t know if I ever grew up enough to be this kind of adult.

Some scars don’t show until you poke just the right tender spot.


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