When I was a girl, I had a recurring daydream—that I would one day be wealthy enough to have a "mad room" in my house. It would be soundproof and filled with stacks of china. And when I was angry, I could go in there and throw as much china against the wall as it took to get the anger out.
I had kind of forgotten about it, until I saw Iyanla Vanzant dedicating an entire room of a home in Iyanla Fix My Life (a TV show) to one of those heavy bag punching bags and a bunch of bats. It was a series about angry women, many of whom had been victims of abuse—verbal, emotional, sexual, physical—all kinds. And when the overwhelming pain would come up, they'd go in that room and beat the crap out of the heavy bag.
It was the same kind of idea as my room filled with china. And it got me thinking. What was I even mad about back then anyway? As I write this, a million things come flooding in. In essence, though, being a kid didn't come easy for me. I didn't easily fit in—not with other kids and not in my family. And that was made more difficult because we moved every two years. The kid I was just wasn't well equipped for a nomadic life.
And on top of that, I needed more than I got from my parents...from my family. I'm the youngest of six kids and both my parents worked a good part of my life. If I were one of, say, two children, I might not have felt so starved. If I were a different person altogether, I might not have felt so starved. My parents were normal parents and we lived a normal life, so it's not like I was poorly treated. But the person I was felt unheard, unloved, misunderstood and invisible, yet remarkably visible when there was something to criticize. I had way more feelings than I knew how to handle, and I felt like there was nobody to turn to—nobody saw or cared.
And the truly angering part was that most of this was not in my control. I had no control or input into how often we moved, where we moved to or how available my parents were. I didn't really fit in or have a friendship with any of my siblings. The ones closest in age to me were males, and they would be protective of me, but they weren't confidantes. I felt lonely and alone a lot. I cried a lot. I got pissy. I would act out at school and at home. I would scream into my pillow. And, occasionally, the pain would be too big for a pillow, and I would feel so intensely I thought I was losing my mind.
It's possible that the role of family and the purpose of childhood is to break you into pieces so you can spend the rest of your life putting yourself back together again. And all of it made me want a room where I could get the shattering out of my body and onto the wall and floor. Just like those ladies were getting the abuse out of their bodies and into that heavy bag.
I know the "dream of the angry room" seeped into my adulthood, but I don't know when it stopped being a legitimate goal in my life...haha. Somewhere along the line, I have found other ways to deal with pain and anger. I meditate. I talk to friends about it. I blog about it or journal about it. As I've written about before, I mow. And occasionally, still, the pain is too big for a pillow and I feel like I'm losing my mind.
I wish I could say I've put all my broken pieces back together again, but I haven't. Some of those breaks and cracks have been healed and have made me stronger. And some of them keep me stuck in cycles I now have control over, but choose to remain in in self-sabotaging ways. I both mourn for and celebrate what the shattering has done in my life.
We arrive on this earth intact. And we leave here a mosaic of all the times we've been broken and healed. Each person that hurts you takes a shard and each that loves you leaves a shard to help you heal. We not only get to choose which shards we use to build our mosaic, but we also choose what kind of shards we leave behind for others. How we use those pieces—to create something strong and beautiful or something fragile and inconsistent—is entirely within our own control.