Working to Empty the Bag of Anger

Hey, um…c’mere. Yes–come closer, so I can whisper you a story.

We’re friends, right? So it won’t be a problem if I tell you a secret. Let’s sit over here, where it’s kinda dark; maybe the rest of the world, the part that doesn’t understand what abuse can do, won’t see or hear us for a while.

So here is the truth: I have been a mom for 18 years and often regret it. To coin an over-used phrase, I didn’t ask for this.

The doctor, upon diagnosing me with uterine fibroids, said getting pregnant was a great “fix” because the blood that was feeding the growing fibroids–that made me pass out at the drop of a hat and caused me to layer my clothing every day (at one point I flowed heavily for a year straight)–would be diverted to the baby.

Great. That meant I had to be intimate with the man to whom I was married at the time. I didn’t ask for that.

I won’t go into the whole abuse thing; I mentioned it here. This secret is about somebody totally different.

This secret is about my son.

It stands to reason that a pregnancy born out of a medical diagnosis, a lack of desire, and pain, hurt, ignorance, and so on would not necessarily lead to a happy family. My son was born at 29 weeks’ gestation, at a pound and 13 ounces; he was healthy, just small. His father tried to get out of being with me in the delivery room (despite the fact that this child was coming really early and things could go bad) because, as he tried to justify, he hadn’t been in the delivery room for the birth of his other (three) children (by three different women; he hadn’t been married to any of them).

When I go to the doctor and he or she asks about my pregnancy history, I am honest: two pregnancies, one child.

My first child should be in his or her 20’s, but he or she was not permitted to grow. I hadn’t married my abuser when I got pregnant the first time and, having already climbed too far into the horror hole thought it better to not be an unwed mother. Like it made a difference in the end.

The bag of anger got real big the night of fight number, oh, I-don’t-know; my son was an infant and the father said he didn’t remember me getting an abortion.

But that is still another story.

My son was three when he was diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum.

My son was four when his father died and soon after we went to counseling; I didn’t want him to grow up with the anger gene and become an abuser too.

As he got older, he got stranger. Puberty does all sorts of things to the body and spirit of a young person. Being an only child, I had no experience with these sorts of issues.

I have spent the last 18 years fighting for him, in school, to encourage sociability, to encourage learning.

It hasn’t worked.

He got kicked out of his regular school during his sophomore year in high school after a stealing spree and the inappropriate touching of a disabled young woman. He graduated from a special school, yet I cannot understand what he learned; he seems not to understand the most basic of things, even though the teachers and administrators said he was on grade level.

My bag of anger has gotten heavier over the years.

The one thing that has helped me carry its load is my current husband. He is a saint in all forms of the word. He loves my son and I, he is patient, he is kind, he does his best to understand what my son’s disability means and involves.

He’s been with me as I fought to get services for my son; he’s been here as we got word that my son qualifies for services that will carry him through the rest of his life.

Did I mention my son takes multiple medications to help calm his anger and to help deal with whatever is going on in his mind?

Did I mention my son has been hospitalized five times in the last year? We have had the police here to take him off in fits of anger, usually precipitated by one or the other of us reminding him of some chore or personal hygiene issue.

Did I mention he doesn’t think hygiene, or applying himself, or trying to learn, or doing anything other than eating, sleeping, or playing video games is important?

My husband is here, counting the days until the case manager is assigned and services can actually begin.

He’s here, counting the days until we can work out transitional housing.

Did I mention I need this boy out of my house?

I’m angry.

I’m angry at myself for listening to the doctor who said getting pregnant would be a good option to “fix” my fibroids.

Did I mention it didn’t? They came back with almost as much vengeance and I ended up having a hysterectomy.

I’m angry at myself choosing to bring a child into the world with an abuser.

I’m angry that I’ve sentenced this young man to a less-than-optimal life.

I’m angry that I can’t get through to him.

I’m angry that all the fighting I’ve done often feels like it was useless, especially on the days that my son is breaking windows (just the other night, he broke out the storm window, the one with the double-pane, on a bedroom window) or damaging the cars (that same night, he scratched up the truck).

I’m angry that my son seems not to care about any of us.

I’m angry that my son seems not to care much about himself.

I’m angry that he doesn’t get it that other kids don’t really want him around.

I’m angry that adults think he’s odd.

But there is a pinpoint of light, in that the services that are coming into play for my son include residential options. He says quickly that he believes other people can teach him better than we can.

I’m ready for him to go find out if that’s true.

And like the father of the prodigal son, we’ll be here should he want us around.

And hopefully my bag of anger will be lighter when that day comes.

About the Author

AR NealI am an activist, or should I say I am on my way to being an activist. I now realize the heroes of my life–my nana, my dad, Jesus, Angela Davis, Dr. King Jr., Malcolm X, my husband, our pets, Gandhi, and a host of others who have crossed my path as bright and shining lights for only a moment–have lived their lives (and in some cases, given them) for causes worthy of our attention. While I am under no illusions that I fit into the same class or category as any of those mentioned above, I pray to be able to appreciate their perseverance, resolve, resilience, and vulnerability (thank you, Brene’ Brown!) and have some of those qualities attributed to me one day.



  1. Andree, you’re writing style gets me every time. I am in awe at how you take something so difficult and make it look easy to tell. It’s not, I know it’s not, and I appreciate the great amount of effort that you put into making it feel so effortless.
    I do hope one day soon you can take that bag of anger and wad it up and throw it out. And you will. You’re strength is inspiring.

    1. Awww–thank you so much Melanie!

      I look forward to easing my stress for sure. We are working to get my son a placement and that will certainly help…

  2. Been to hundreds of calls just like you discuss as a police officer. Nothing stinks more than having to tell a clearly caring but frustrated mother that there’s really nothing that I could do outside of taking the kid to jail. That never turns out well for anyone.

    1. I think for us it’s been worse to hear the first part of that: “There’s really nothing I can do.” We have officers trained to work with special needs folks and often they don’t want to take such a person to jail and if there is no room at any of the 5150/psychiatric facilities, we are left to essentially just stay up and try to talk it out, or hope that after the officers talk to the person (in my case, my son) that the situation is diffused.

      And thank you for all you do–it can’t be easy, ever!

  3. Thank you for sharing this moving story. I am sure it was not easy but I wanted to thank you anyway. I appreciate your honesty. You have strength that most us wish we had….

    1. Thank you so much–I don’t feel too strong most days and then there are days when I feel pretty okay 😉

      1. I know exactly how you feel….No matter what we are all part of the terrible sisterhood of abuse survivors and that makes us the STRONGEST women out there (even if we dont feel that way sometimes).

        1. Amen, sister!

  4. How raw and honest. Thanks for sharing your story. I hope your son gets the help he needs, and that at some point you will be able to move past the anger.

    1. Thank you! The case manager came this week and just today in the mail we received her list of work placements. I will he calling to set up visit appointment with the two in which my son expressed interest. He has to get out there and find out about things like responsibility and since he did not want to learn it from us, he will have to get it some other way…

  5. Love you, chica, I’m sorry for all you’ve been through, and angry at the people who failed you, and so incredibly impressed by your strength. *hugs*

    1. Thank you, Rara! I appreciate that!

  6. I’m sorry you carry that bag of anger around. As you know, I have my own. But thankfully, you have a husband who’s there for you and getting approved for services is great news. Hugs.

    1. G’Fish! Thanks, hun 🙂

  7. I can’t even begin to imagine what you go through on a daily basis. I’m sorry it’s so hard for you. I’ sorry that the stupid system requires such a fight to get help and I know how much energy that drains. I hope you soon get some respite! xo

    1. We certainly need it. Once he gets a residential placement, he has to stay for six months. I hope we are able to take a break then…

      1. I hope so for you . xo

  8. What an ordeal. Geez for you and your son, I hope that you are both able to find some peace. I can’t imagine the strength it takes on a daily basis.

    1. Thanks, Becki! It’s hard because there are days (like today…) when I struggle to communicate with him. He is on a trend that nothing we say matters (we’re just the dumb old folks). I did manage to get him some appointments at employment placements; once he is assigned to one of those, he won’t be hanging around the house sleeping all day. Also, it seems he qualifies for state medical on his own and it looks like he might be able to get adult survivor benefits because of disability (he got survivor benefits since his dad died…interesting that Social Security calls them “survivor” benefits…).

  9. how dreadfully sad! hugs and best wishes

    1. Thank you, tersia!

  10. I’m angry that the scumbag abuser/father of your son, got the easy way out and you have to deal and pick up the pieces. Give your husband a hug for me and your a wonderful person and mother.

speak loudly, donkeys are sleeping

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