On Having A Tantrum

Do you ever get that feeling that you’d just like to have a full blown tantrum in all its childish glory?

I heard a child the other day in full expression of their pain and frustration, tearfully and angrily shouting “why is everything always my fault”? It seemed so honest in its emotion. I connected with that, felt envious even.

The feeling, desire and capacity to throw a hissy fit, a paddy, crying and shouting in full blood rushing freedom. Just the rawness of the pain and the unfairness of life. The desire to wail and pummel, “I’m so tired of working so hard on myself, trying so hard, feeling the same and not making any progress, I don’t want to do it anymore, I can’t do this anymore, I don’t know what to do …”.

To feel powerful in the powerlessness.

What do we do with growing frustration and pain that sits inside? Most of the time we control ourselves, tell ourselves everything is ok, I’m just having a bad day, it will pass, I just need more sleep etc.. We push it down, diminish it, reason with it, try and make it go away.

I notice the editing, controlling part of me that disallows myself a hissy fit. And also a part of me that doesn’t know how to ‘lose it’ rather than ‘sit with it’. And maybe a part of myself afraid of expressing the strong emotions because they run deep into the core of me and connect to old wounds that I’d prefer to believe I’ve moved on from.

Sometimes we might sit on this exasperation so long that something will set us off and this energy, internalised anger, will find a vent against someone else. If you are in a relationship, there’s an easy target at hand, something to rail against. Other people maybe walking targets, but it’s not them.

We need release, expression, acknowledgement, holding. The child feeling such injustice against them had a soothing mother who stayed calm and heard them. We don’t always have that comfort as an adult, or as a child, in fact we might have learnt it is not ok to express our feelings openly or learnt we won’t be met by someone who will see and hear us without judgement. We may have internalised judgement against our own feelings. Our coping mechanism, our system may be wired to shut down or withdraw. We may not feel safe enough to be the raw mess that we can be, that we feel we are. All of us are. There is no shame in this, in feeling pain.

I’m really clear from witnessing and participating in therapeutic environments designed to enable people to connect with parts of them that are hidden or suppressed (shadow work) that every adult harbours pain. Often trapped emotions; a furious anger or a tiny crying child whose needs might not have been met and still aren’t. Without bringing in and looking after these parts and giving them a voice, it’s hard for us to feel the whole of ourselves.

We have a responsibility to acknowledge our own discomfort and pain to ourselves.