Rage enveloped me in my mother’s womb. It bathed me in amniotic fluid that permeated my cells, and developed who I was about to become. The origin of this rage could have evolved from my mother’s life events. My mother from Japan, who immigrated to America a decade after WWII ended. Whose legs carried her as she and her family ran from their house after it was bombed and burned to the ground, barely making it out alive. Whose eyes witnessed the horrors of war, when her city of Osaka was burning. My five-foot-tall mother, whose arms and calves became large and strong doing physical work that men would do. Whose body was shaped by laying asphalt and building roads. My mother who saved all her money and secured a visa for that long boat trip to the United States. Arriving as a college student and meeting my Caucasian father at a time when it was illegal for different races to mix. My mother, whose decision to marry my father, forced them to elope.
But maybe this rage started with the pregnancy that came before me. My mother who was seven months pregnant, begged my father to take her to the hospital. But my father hated doctors and refused. My mother took a bath to ease the pain and started bleeding profusely. The water turned red with blood. My mother, whose heart broke when she saw her stillborn baby, perfect and fully formed. The boy she had always wanted.
I was born on the heels of that gruesome pregnancy. My mother wanted a boy, and didn’t want a girl. My first memory is my mother saying, “You’re lucky you weren’t born in China, they kill the first-born girls.” Her mantra became, “I wish you were never born.” My father always followed with, “I never wanted kids.”
As I got older, rage enveloped me as my mother beat me. I tried so hard to please her, but always did things wrong. Specks of dust on a counter, water spots on a glass. Blinded by rage my mother whirled around like a bull, screaming so loud my ears rang. Lunging at me with fists flying, pummeling me with her blows.
In my thirties, rage enveloped me as I raised my son. Rage erupted without warning as my son tried to please me. It prompted me to attack him after he spilled water, talked back, or made a small mistake. I screamed and ranted, wanting to lunge at him.
Rage enveloped me when I began therapy, to change myself and save my son. Rage embodied my entire being. I had no control. For me, there was no millisecond to think before reacting. The rage was cellular, instantaneous, and hideous.
I called the rage a monster, so my son could understand. A monster that lived inside of me that wasn’t part of him. To keep him safe, I’d yell at him and send him to his room, making him write apologies. Then I’d call him over and yell at him some more, only to send him back, to write a 100 more. I’m sure this was crazy making, but it was the best that I could do.
Rage enveloped me as I confessed my sins in therapy, sobbing and shaking from the core of my being. It took me years to find that millisecond, before one reacts, and has a choice to act. I remember the day it happened, because I actually felt the rage grow. Boiling deep inside, rising up within me. I had a millisecond to quickly run and lock the bedroom door. I wrestled with that monster, and rode the monster out. But it didn’t leave that day, because rage’s roots were deep.
Rage enveloped me as I continued with different therapies—traditional, group, sand and art therapy. Voice dialogue, visualization, hypnosis and more. But it was through voice dialogue, that I understood rage the most. Voice dialogue is a method of communicating with your inner voice, sub-personalities, or “primary selves.” For me, a dominant self was rage. I hated rage, and was ready to cut it off, destroy and kill it. I was ready to do battle. Much to my surprise, my visualization of rage was not the monster I expected. Instead it appeared as a large expansive oak, spreading its branches wide to envelop me. And rage enveloped me not as an adversary, but as my protector. I didn’t understand what that meant. It turns out that rage gave me energy to fight and advocate for myself. It gave me courage to stand. I discovered that rage couldn’t be killed, but it could be transmuted.
Today, transmuted rage envelops me as I advocate for others. It gives me strength and courage to stand up for what is right.
Ameko Crain has been working in the employment services field for over 20 years with many different populations. She's currently employed as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, working with high school and 18 to 21-year-old transition students. Ameko prepares these students for future employment and careers, and teaches them to write resumes. Her interest in understanding human nature led to a master’s degree in psychology and an advanced degree in counseling.