Thursday, May 26, 2011

Anger...a powerful thing...

I’ve been away from my blog for way to long. No real excuses except that life has got in the way and things have been pretty stressful in my life lately. Sometimes I share this stuff and sometimes I don’t…this is one of those don’ts though I know that many who read my blog might be aware of some of the things that have been going on.
I think one of the things I’ve been feeling lately is anger and frustration but more than that I’ve also been dealing with being on the receiving end of anger. In the last few days I’ve also been reading many posts from others on facebook about their anger and it’s lead me to think, to research and to write.
For me, a passive optimist… passive because inwardly I am not always so optimistic but on the outside most see me this way, I don’t let anger control me. I try to control it and unfortunately I also try to control the anger of others… A LOT! It’s not working so well… maybe a new strategy is needed???
I have a short fuse at times… have always been this way. Usually I get angry, I speak my mind and then feel that release. If I don’t do this I usually end up stewing for hours, unable to move forward, unable to forgive and forget. I plan what I’ll say the next day, plan how I’ll defend myself or let the other person know how their actions made me feel. I obsess on it and can hardly sleep. And usually I let it go after a short period…not entirely, it sits waiting to rear it’s ugly head sometimes but for the most part I move on.
But not everyone is like that. Someone close to me once told me that it’s great that I can be the way I am, great that I can blow, release, forgive and be happy all within minutes but he can’t…and it’s hard to deal with. I have such a hard time being around moody people or those who I know are angry with me. I want to fix everything, want the world to be happy and peaceful. It’s not a bad way to be but it’s not for everyone and can be pretty intrusive to those who don’t want to deal with it that way. Their way of stewing, mooding, being silent or spreading their anger around isn’t maybe the best for them but it helps them to come to grips with what has happened, helps them to find solutions.
Finding the root of anger is one of the hardest parts of a matter who that relationship is with. I have had an epiphany lately about something that causes me to get angry over and over again and it was great to finally see that. Unfortunately it will be a long road to recovery from this root but I’m working on it. Being overly disappointed in some things that have happened over and over again, being hugely disappointed in what is the reality is very hard to take, very hard to move forward from. Again…I’m working on it.
So with this new knowledge of anger in my mind and just the fact that anger has been a big part of life lately it was rather fateful that many TTTS mom’s have been posting about anger lately. So many are justifiably angry…and as so many of you know, I was (and am at times) too. I worked through some it a few months into this blog and few other times along the way.
In some of the research I came across and found this quote from On Death and Dying, by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. She wrote that one reaction we humans have to loss is anger. She said Few people place themselves in the patient's position and wonder where this anger might come from. Maybe we too would be angry if all our life activities were interrupted so prematurely; if all the buildings we started were to go unfinished, to be completed by someone else; if we had put some hard-earned money aside to enjoy a few years of rest and enjoyment, for travel and hobbies, only to be confronted with the fact that [we are dying]. What else would we do with our anger but let it out on the people ... who rush busily around only to remind us that we cannot even stand on our two feet anymore.
Obviously this is written about someone who is dying but I think the loss of a child causes you to die inside and so many of those things you had planned for your life appear to be shattered…and really are in so many ways. And even those who’ve had drastic changes, set backs or personal losses (of a job, of a dream, of a relationship) are dying inside too.
The author of the article I found Dr. Kubler-Ross’s quote in wrote about the intense all consuming anger that some people have and how scary he finds it. His fear stems from fearing for his safety but also for his loss of control when he is angry and what he will say and do that he will regret later. Early humans needed anger the give them a surge in adrenalin that helped them to survive but modern civilization doesn’t have that same need and because of that most people work to manage their anger.
Dr. Kubler-Ross suggests that when it comes to big losses it can help a great deal if we listen to the anger of seriously ill persons. After interviews with many seriously ill persons she came to the conclusion that the small losses of our lives are the training ground where we learn the coping skills we use when we are faced with large losses. Put another way, according to this article, we tend to die the way we have lived. If we rely heavily on denial to help up cope with the small losses of life, we will tend to rely heavily on denial when we struggle to cope with the big losses. If we rely heavily on anger and indignation to cope with the small losses of our life, we are likely to depend on anger to get us through the big losses.
Wow….isn’t that a realization about how so many people deal with things. There are many people who do react with denial when things go wrong or when someone they know casually dies and they don’t really react at all. But I also know a great number of people who blow little things out of proportion and who get angry at the littlest things and can’t let go…remain so angry for so long. When a big upset happens, when a huge loss happens it’s catastrophic and throws their life completely off kilter. They get so angry, so bitter, so full of negativity and it is so hard to move past that…and so much damage can be done at that time.
After reading this article about grieving…after hearing what Elizabeth Kubler-Ross says on this topic, I realize I need to listen more and talk less. I need to be the compassionate friend more and not interject my life’s moments or compare my story. That’s not my job…my job is to listen.
I decided while I was on this topic I would do some more research…especially in how anger affects relationships (and you know I figured if I hadn’t written in a long time, maybe you’d like to read a novel LOL!!!)
What I’ve learned is something I’ve learned time again in courses I take for my job and in things I teach my students who are struggling with behaviour all the time… anger is a powerful, perfectly normal emotion that everyone feels at one time or another. Experts say that anger develops more often in the family in marriage and with children than in any other relationship. The second most common place for anger episodes… at work. Because of this, more people are injured by the violent acts of someone they live or work with than by strangers.
It is the most poorly handled emotion in society and you see it everywhere…
road rage on the roads, shouting matches and fights in the arena, violence at school and domestic abuse in homes. It is the source of many legal problems and the root of many health issues…headaches, high blood pressure and chronic pain. Science has just recently begun to recognize the contribution anger makes to these and other diseases. When coupled with workplace and family stress, unresolved anger can cause emotional, physical and spiritual health to suffer. This can lead the angry one to lash out at the nearest person.
But what so many people need to realize is that because anger can be controlled, it makes anger a choice. Anger is a learned response to a trigger in our environment. While some people may have a tendency to become angry, it's not okay to give in and simply say "That's just the way I am, and there's nothing I can do about it." Ultimately we are in charge of which behaviors we choose in response to the emotions we feel. How many times do we hear people say things like, "She/He made me angry."

That statement is inaccurate. No one is ever made to be angry. No one is forced against their will to lose their temper. Anger is a learned response to a provoking situation
And how does that all tie back into grief and loss (you knew I’d come back to this right???). As I see it, as I’ve lived it, as I’ve watched others live it I see how controlling anger can be in your life and how hard it is to just be…to just live, to love, to laugh, to remember what life was like before ‘IT’ happened. It’s not easy. I am still so pissed off at times that I have had this happen to me and to my family. I am angry that I missed out on being that twin mom, I am mad that Cameron won’t have his twin with him and I am still struggling with the changes that losing Cole has done to me…I want my old life back and yet I like the new me at times too. I know my family is forever changed because of Cole and for sure we have angrier moments and that anger has in turn affected all of us. But I’d be telling the hugest lie around if I said that we didn’t have anger issues before. Thankfully we are working at these issues and have some wonderful professionals helping us with this.
I read a lot of my past blog entries today and in reading these things I realize how far I have come. I realize that for so many reasons time really does help with coping. Unlike the saying, I don’t believe at all that it heals all thing, nor will time ever cause me to forget or to devalue. But it does help to make my heart feel more put together and not so broken and it helps me to accept and move forward. I have experienced the intense anger that grief and loss bring about and I have moved forward. A big step in that though was being able to forgive… others, myself and God.
I found this online about forgiveness and grief….

“Forgiveness is necessary here because few of us are perfect when it comes to this issue of loss and anger. Each of us can only do the best we can when it comes to expressing our angry grief. And we can only do the best we can when it comes to listening to the anger in others. We can always learn to do better, but most of us will fall short of perfection. So as we struggle to cope with the great losses that we face in this life, we need each other's forgiveness. “

Perhaps it’s time for many of us to evaluate who we are angry with, who we need to forgive and maybe then the first steps in healing can begin.

P.S. Yup…it’s a novel… I promise to write more often so there’s less to read!!!