confession: I was an "angry" child

This title already needs A LOT of clarification. 

We use words in such a general term. 

"Happy child"

"Angry child"

Never "a child who gets angry"

I can tell you that in my life my family has always referred to me as "happy-go-lucky" and it's true. I appreciate the little things, I love to laugh, sing, dance, hug, you name it." I was always easy to please.

Ok Haley so where is this 'angry child' thing coming from?

When I say child, I really mean my later elementary years and early middle school. 

The emotions I felt were sadness and confusion, but the emotion I was most comfortable expressing was anger.

I suppose it's normal for a child to develop an "attitude." It is usually a stage. Mine seemed more than just pre-teen angst. I packed a bag numerous times and headed for the woods. My mom would call to me from our back porch and tell me she would call the police if I didn't come back home. 

I have always desired the idea of running away. Now, most of that is my desire for adventure and freedom. Though, there were many times I viewed running away as my best option to feel safe as I worked through my emotions. I didn't want to hurt anyone. I just wanted to be alone. I was a highly sensitive, genuinely good kid, whose biggest fear was being a bad person. 

That makes me sad to this day; that my gentle childhood self feared so deeply she was not worthy.

I remember being in the grocery store with my mom so many years ago. I must have looked miserable, because the cashier handed me a small bag of candy, and then said "Ah there, you DO smile!" I was embarrassed. I felt like I had to "turn my happy on" as if it was a flip of a switch. I felt like I needed to explain to that cashier that I do smile, I smile a lot, I am happy, I truly am, but sometimes I'm just not- Whoever she was, she was kind. But I did not leave that grocery store thinking about how kind she was to hand me free candy. Instead, I could only focus on my shame and fear of what this woman must have thought of me.

I had a lot going on in that time. Things were rocky at home, my dad battled substance abuse, I experienced bullying among my friend group. I was just hurt. I was intuitive enough to know serious things were going on, but I was too young to be informed of "adult" matters. 

I filled in the blanks with my anxiety, and worst possible scenarios. Was daddy going to die? Why does mommy say "ok" when I know what "not ok" feels like? Why can't I know? I was always worrying. When there was tension in my house, I reacted in anger. I would get in physical fights with my brother. And trust me- far beyond the "typical" sibling feud. I was hateful. I would say hurtful things to my mother, (because I was smart enough to know what would really get to her.) 

And years, YEARS before I sought out counseling myself, I was told by my parents that IF I didn't fix my mood, my behavior- they would "send me to counseling."

Today, I wish they had. I think I would have benefitted sooner. I would have learned that my feelings were valid, there was not a bad thing about me. I just had a lot of feelings trapped inside that were crying to get out. 

Back then, however, therapy was my threatened punishment. Maybe that wasn't what my parents meant, but it was how I saw it. I saw it as something being wrong with me, and that I needed fixing. 

I wasn't a child with "anger issues" I was a child who struggled with her emotions and used anger as her cry for help.

I wasn't angry with the world. I was angry with myself that I did not understand my feelings. I did not understand my sensitivity to my environment, my intuition, frequent overwhelm. I did not understand that I could knowingly sense when things were wrong, but everyone around me would smile to pretend it wasn't. It would eat away at me that I just. could. not. understand!

6 or so years later.. I was being treated for severe anxiety and depression, and my parents had already been divorced. 

If I could go back in time I would give my childhood self a hug. For what she went through, but also just who she was (is). She didn't want to hurt others. She didn't understand when classmates picked on her. She was ashamed for people to see her, so she befriended the trees, her books, her dolls instead.

I would tell her there is nothing wrong with her.

I would tell her that someday her feelings will be easier to identify.

Her emotions will not always be confusing.

She is still happy-go-lucky,

a light to the world,

even when all feels dark.