The Source of My Anger Was Fear of the Unknown

Ephesians 4:27

…continued from yesterday.

***

In Puerto Rico I didn’t have any money so I started to steal things. I found it easy to steal makeup at Wal-Mart, slipping it into my purse and walking out of the store because there were no sensors on the items. I would also go to the changing room and leave with a couple clothes items still on and walk out of the store. It started with a couple little things but eventually I would leave the store with my bag full of unpaid merchandise. Sometimes I would have my grandparents pay for some of the items.

At small grocery stores I would steal cans of sangria soda. Sometimes I would take a can and drink it in the bathroom and throw away the can or fill it up with water and put it back on the shelf. Or sometimes I would even put it in the pile of things to buy and my grandparents would buy the alcohol (I told them it was grape juice). 

Finally the shoplifting came to an end. My grandparents were in the checkout line at Wal-Mart and I told them I was going to the car to get a snack. I left the store with a couple swimsuits, some earrings and jewelry, makeup and other random things in my bag. When I got to the car it was locked so I started peeling the tags off some of the items. A few minutes later a man came up to me.

“Did you steal those items?” I tried not to look guilty. How did he know?

“No,” I lied. He continued to ask me about the things and I soon found out that he worked for Wal-Mart and had found me because the alarms had gone off. There had been sensors on the earrings. I had been listening to music so I didn’t hear the alarm. 

The man took me into the store and didn’t believe me when I told him that I had accidentally left the store with the merchandise and had intended to pay. We went to a room in the back where some people dumped out the items and counted up the value (over $130) and called the policeman. I had to fill out some paperwork and later had a court date where I had to pay a $200 fine and was put on a six-month unsupervised probation. If I stole again I would be incarcerated. I never stole again. But that was just the beginning of the irresponsible things I was doing in Puerto Rico. 

After ten days of my mysterious chest pain and endless crazy texts with Sarah, my patience started to wear thin. She did ‘confess’ to Pedro about the shoplifting incident by sending him a text with a photo of her name on the court docket. I ended up having to explain the significance.

***

Sarah’s texts could change from sweet, “Oh no, poor Mom!” to “I don’t want to talk to you. I’m never going to tell you about any plans that I have. I will show up at your house in March, I think,” all within a five minute time span.

I finally decided that I needed to do something to clear the air.

Anita Ojeda: Good morning! I’m going to be writing several long texts to you (because I’m not sure if you read email). I feel that part of our communication problem lies in the fact that we love each other but don’t understand how in the heck to demonstrate our love in the language that the other one understands!

I told you that I’d analyze my feelings and let you know why your actions drive me crazy and make me angry. I’ve been praying about it, and I hope that God gives me the right words to try to explain it to you.

When Dad had cancer, I was tossed into an ocean of caregiving (I hope you never end up in the same ocean—it’s pretty rough). What I discovered is that when someone you love is in crisis, human nature turns full-force towards doing everything that you can to help that person—you do whatever is necessary because you love the person. Helping them bathe, clean them, making decisions for them when they are mentally out of it, fighting with doctors and nurses (ok, not literally fighting, but arguing and pushing for answers), taking on insurance companies, employers and basically what feels like the whole world because you are determined to do everything within your power to make sure that the one you love makes it through the rough times.

Afterwards, it took six or seven months for all of those caregiver hormones to subside and for our relationship to settle back into husband and wife who can both handle things equally. You know me, I tend to jump in and do WAY too much for others because I think I’m being helpful.
Sarah Ojeda:

Anita Ojeda: For almost three years after Dad had cancer I (well, he, too), would worry with every sniffle, ache or pain that he got because we feared it might signal a relapse. Even though it cost a lot of money, he went to the doctor every time any little thing seemed off. Well, this summer, you activated my caregiving hormones all over again. You actually activated them when you had anorexia, but they went into full-time-cancer-level mode this summer.
Sarah Ojeda:

Anita Ojeda: The analogy would be: You’ve only been acting more like yourself for less than two months, of which you’ve only been home for one. My caregiving brain/nature sees you as a patient who is still recovering (remember how long it took Dad to actually look and act like he was well? My only point of reference is his experience.
Sarah Ojeda:
Ok. I understand.
Your worry and confusion.
I will heal.
I hope to not cause more damage to you mom.
Anita Ojeda:
So, I apologize for being overprotective and worried at a time in your life when are obviously struggling for autonomy and separate identity from your parents.
Those are natural impulses.
God created us that way.
My overprotectiveness is probably smothering you because it’s coming at a time when you seek autonomy AND you’re recovering from a major depressive episode and eating disorder while you are also maturing and changing and wanting to be treated like an adult.
I get it.
I’m not trying to stab a knife into your heart, I just want you to understand me a little bit more.
Have you thought about why YOU get so angry?
I’d love to understand you a little bit better, too ☺.
Sarah Ojeda:
Gahaha

Anita Ojeda:
I’ve struggled with a bad temper before! The closer I get to Jesus, the less I struggle with it. But it took a long time—when I was two, I’d tell people who looked askance at me to ‘shut up!’ I got spanked for being so rude, and told that I couldn’t say ‘Shut up!’ any more. So, I just told people, “Shut!” But coming from a toddler…well, it sounded like another four letter s word.
Sarah Ojeda:
Oh
That’s cute. 🙂
You made me smile 🙂
Anita Ojeda:
Have a great day!

Fear was the source of my anger and resentment. Click To Tweet

I thought things had settled down after this conversation. Sarah convinced her grandparents to take her to a local hair salon, and had highlights put in. She had to borrow over a hundred dollars from them to pay for her new hairdo.

I didn’t understand how she could spend that much money on her hair AND think she had enough money to go to Europe for a month or two. She also didn’t seem to understand basic things like the how the U.S. Postal service operates.

Sarah Ojeda:
Hey mom, I have only eleven days of contacts left. Can you please mail some to New York or here to Puerto Rico v: there is a SAMs club , Walmart , and Kmart. Thanks ! I need at least a month more
Three would be ideal.
Fo now I’m not gonna wear contacts … Ha, ha.
Anita Ojeda:
I’m not sure what you’re asking. If you want me to ‘mail some’ I’d need an address (unless PR is so small I could send them to Sarah Ojeda, PR and they’d find you—hahaha). Where do you keep them in your room?
Sarah Ojeda:
They on the bathroom
Are in **
Anita Ojeda:
Address?
When do you leave PR?
Sarah Ojeda:
Sarah rincon PR
March5
Anita Ojeda:
I don’t think they’d make it in time, because they wouldn’t go out until Monday. Just a question for you, my love. Are you mad at God?
Sarah Ojeda:
Ok
Yea
For
Allowing
Us to sin
Anita Ojeda:
He wouldn’t be God and we wouldn’t be people if he forced everyone to be perfect. We’d be fish or birdies.
Are you angry at us?
Would you like to hear my suggestion about what to do with your anger at God?
Sarah Ojeda:
Yes yea
Anita Ojeda:
Yes, you’re angry with us?
Sarah Ojeda:
Yes
And yes
Anita Ojeda:
Ok. My suggestion on both counts is this. Sit down and write two letters. One to us, and one to God. Take your time and really explore your anger, its origins and how it affects you. God, of course will be able to read your letter without you sending it. You’ll need to send yours to us. I have discovered that there is something very healing in purging anger and exploring it.
Sarah Ojeda:
Interesting
Anita Ojeda:
When I am angry and don’t take the time to think about where it comes from and why it’s there, then it has the power to control me, confuse me and just makes me angrier (remember, I have a long history of being an angry person with a short temper, so I actually know what I’m talking about).

***

I don’t know if she ever took my advice—her texts to me didn’t seem as angry, but she looked so sad in all the photos she posted of herself on Facebook.

And then she had an epic, very public fight over the Internet with one of her friends from Brazil.

…to be continued

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a 'recovering cancer caregiver' who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • hanging on the cliff….I will be back tomorrow.
    Susan Shipe recently posted…day 22: lazyMy Profile

  • I just read yesterday’s entry and today’s. Sometimes it’s so hard to know what to say in these kinds of situations – I think God gave you wise words to share with your daughter.
    Barbara H. recently posted…31 Days with Elisabeth Elliot: LonelinessMy Profile

  • Wow, daughter and parent relationships can be tough. Going through issues with my 13-year-old. I worry about her eating habits, but I don’t think they are as serious as your daughter’s. What signs should you watch for?
    Mary Hill recently posted…Never Doubt Your Value to JesusMy Profile

    • Oh, Mary, I’m so sorry. Mother/daughter relationship are so hard some times. I started taking our daughters on dates every Friday afternoon (individually). We started off just hanging out together at a local coffee shop (it felt a little awkward), eventually, it turned into a cherished time together that we still have whenever we get to see each other. As far as eating disorders? Sudden weight loss or gain, going to the bathroom immediately after meals, pushing food around on her plate, a growing list of ‘unacceptable’ foods, secretive behavior, the list goes on and on. Check out Chasing Silhouettes by Emily Wierenga, too. Also, The Hidden Half of the Gospel is an excellent resource. I also had to learn to let the Holy Spirit guide our conversations and to be quiet more often and let my daughters talk.
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Why I Struggle to Live a Spacious LifeMy Profile

  • If I was your daughter I don’t think I’d like this to be on the Internet for the world to read.
    Sarah recently posted…31 Jesus-Benefits: That Same PowerMy Profile

    • Sarah Ojeda

      I am totally fine with these posts. My mom sends me every post before she publishes it so that I can read the post. It is a crazy story and it talks about a lot of personal things but I hope our story can help other people be able to open up about similar experiences.

      • Sarah … you’re an incredible young woman! Thank you for allowing us into your world. I love how you and your mom keep fighting your way toward a deeper relationship with each other. Keep on being as honest and open as you’re both able … I promise it’ll be worth it.

        And know that we’re cheering for you both!
        Linda Stoll recently posted…morning invitations * welcomeMy Profile

  • You are so insightful to recognize what’s behind the anger. What a tough time! Went through much the same with our oldest. Like you, I wrote about it and it ended up in the book The Power of Hope for Prodigals: Prepare the Way Home. Keep up the good work.
    Karen Sebastian recently posted…Resting in HopeMy Profile

  • Very brave of your daughter to let you share her story.
    Robyn recently posted…Hearing God’s Encouraging VoiceMy Profile

  • Your posts remind me SO much of what transpired between our daughter & me about 5 years ago. You seemed to handle it MUCH better than I did though – ha ha! So glad that God goes before us & hems us in. No surprises for Him. Thanks for sharing this story Anita!
    stuckinindiana recently posted…sunrise thoughts 22 October 2015My Profile

    • I’mso sorry that you and your daughter had to gothrough a similar situation. It’s not easy. I still don’t think that I ‘handled’ it well. I have many regrets–but yes, God’s hemming us in and willingness to teach and lead sure helped me out!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…How to Act When Your Adolescent Acts UnreasonableMy Profile

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