Monday, September 24, 2012

Bilious

I work really hard not to yell in anger at my kids.

I yell in tickles, in excitement, in daily you're-so-beautiful mirror-facing morning affirmation. I can use my volume for good. I will yell to get their attention. But once I have it, I get quiet.

This is important to me because I can hear the words of every time I was yelled at in anger when I was small.  When my brother and I broke a ceramic rooster on the mantle, when I was bored in class and shamed for clock-watching, every word and the face behind it: I can replay them on a screen in my head like a blooper reel of personal humiliation.

This resolve doesn't help me feel no anger, though. So while I'm calmly saying something like "I don't think that was the best choice you could have made," or "sweet girl, I'm frustrated because I've asked you to buckle your straps four times; every time you get in the car I want you to sit right down and buckle your straps instead of waiting to be told," I want to yell something. I feel better yelling. My emotions, positive and otherwise, have always found release in decibels.

So I swallow the sound down. My eyes lose their peripheral vision. I hear everything from further away because the unreleased yelling fills my insides with sour cotton balls. I concentrate so hard on not yelling and the unreleased anger has nowhere to dissipate. I swallow the bomb so I don't explode on my kids and it sits hard like a rock in my throat. I swallow it down and down and force it to diffuse inside me.

And I keep speaking calm words until I feel the intent behind them.


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Inspired by a real-life murder that threatened to topple the powerful Hapsburg dynasty in the 17th century, The Bloodletter's Daughter imagines how one young woman holds more power than she thought possible.  Join From Left to Write on September 25 as we discuss the The Bloodletter's Daughter. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

I studied this time period and area of the world in depth in graduate school and loved learning about the four humors that comprised the basis of the period's medical knowledge. The bloodletter's daughter helped her father restore the balance of humors in his clients. I would surely be diagnosed as choleric: possessing an excess of yellow bile. Yellow bile provokes, excites and emboldens the passions.  Being inflammatory, irritating and caustic, it provokes anger, irritability, boldness, ambition, envy, jealousy and courage.


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