Analyzing the Angry

Dear Family, Friends, Coworkers, and Random Drivers Going 58 in the F*(#!&@ Fast Lane:

I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge my state of mind this past week.

You’ve noticed that I’ve been on edge.  Stressed out.  Tense.  I’ve given curt, overly blunt responses to innocent, honest questions.  My personal volume’s been elevated by at least two clicks, and if I had this ability, there’s be a ton of ashes to scatter right now:

As much as I try to be an easygoing, stretch your wings and fly type, I just can't stop trying to burst people into flames with my mind:

I’ve been…prickly?  No.  More like…stabby.  Yeah.  Slightly stabby.  And while you may be feeling a bit put out by my abrasiveness, all the $#!ts I give about that are right here in this basket I’m not holding:

emptyhands

Side note:  It’s not easy to take a picture of your own hands.  Seriously – try it.

After much analysis – you know, dissecting those feelings, sitting with ’em, letting the thoughts marinate while I take long-distance bike rides and rip the life out of unwelcome weeds in my garden – I’ve identified what’s going on.

I’m angry.

So I’ve been working to understand WHY I’m feeling this way.  Because if I have a REASON, I can FIX it, and subsequently feel better, right?

Generally, life has been good to me, I know.  But there are a couple of things lately that are making me feel like a cat you’ve pet backwards from tail to head.  And it’s not for things like Words with Friends disqualifying PERFECTLY LEGIT words (though admittedly, that’s mildly irritating):

yesitis aword

George Lucas begs to differ.

No, there’s some marginally less superficial shiz going down here.

First, I was angry because we were at my in-laws last weekend.  And while you should know that I love them dearly, visiting them is a challenge because of the massive amount of temptation everywhere.  And by “temptation,” I mean FOOD.  Cookies (three freshly-baked varieties) and rich desserts and meaty entrees.  Nuts and chocolate in little jars on the table, out in the open for the taking at any time you just want a bite (yeah, right, one bite) of something salty or sweet.  And, because the hubs and his entire family – his teenage boys and his mom and dad in their 70s – are tall and lean, they can all partake heartily in all of this delicious, glorious food, just because they want it.

And I was angry because EVERYONE GETS TO EAT ice cream cake and fried fish and buttered potatoes and I do not.  And it’s HARD sometimes – especially when they have a ginormous meal at noon, WITH dessert portions that contain at least half my daily caloric allowance, and then have another plate FULL OF FREAKING RIBS for a SNACK (a snack!!) at 3:00 and I have to pretend to be happy with a bowl of watermelon.

I was mad. Angry mad. Because life is unfair when it comes to food, and I’m never, ever going to be the kind of person who can walk past an ice cream store, think “hmm, sounds good,” and eat a simple cone and have that be the end of it – no drama, judgement, or guilt.  The scale is my probation officer who commands me to report in almost daily; dalliances are immediately evident and the punishment is severe.  Best not to tick her off.

So why else?

I’m angry because the hubs has been somewhat distant this week.  That’s partly because he’s trying to be respectful of me “needing my space,” and partly because my vibe this week’s been pretty much “touch me and die.”

But he’s also been working on writing me a letter.

What about?  His quest to explore his spirituality.  (Or lack thereof.)  He’s been crafting a letter to me explaining how he feels about the Bible in general.

And I have zero – ZERO – interest in reading this.

Why?  A number of reasons:

1. I already know how he feels about it.  He’s made it abundantly clear – in his choice of T-shirts, his bumper stickers, his inability to refrain from rude comments….I get it.  I know.  You’re not on Team Jesus.  Copy that, loud and clear, bro.

2. I’m not in a good place for this right now.  WE’RE not in a good place for this.  I still can’t hear your opinions on the subject without feeling personally attacked; you’re not in a headspace where you can communicate these issues without a ton of editorial emotion; and frankly, I’m still not over the whole Ashley Madison thing, so giving me more reason to feel like we can’t bond, to realize that we might not ever again be close….Let’s just say now is not the time.  I still feel like I’m being emotionally waterboarded over here.  I need time to breathe.  Our relationship needs time for the glue to stabilize and set a bit before you start using this newly repaired vessel as a cocktail shaker.

3.  It’s hella long.  It just feels like…work.  Like writing-your-Affirmative-Action-Plan work.  Which is somewhere between <snoooooooooooore> and PLEASE SHOOT ME.

In other words, I just don’t have the energy to bring this festering lump to a head and clean up the mess when it ruptures and oozes all over the place.

Not right now.

Because I’m also angry that my Dad started hospice care last week.

We’ve known it was coming.  He’s been slowly withering away for the last nineteen months, losing weight, eating less, getting out of bed less often.  If you haven’t lived through something like this, you likely underestimate the stressful state of limbo this puts you in.

Every morning, you check your phone for news:  Nope.  Not dead yet.  And you get on with your day.  Eventually, you get accustomed to this as the status quo, and you work with it.

But once you call in hospice, you know you’re racing the final lap.  No more pit stops; the checkered flag’s somewhere in front of you.  But the road’s all wavy and bendy, like the heat mirage on the highway in July, and you really don’t know how much further you need to go before the path ends and it’s finally over.  And every day you preface work, kid activities, and other commitments with “…unless something happens to Dad.”  And people nod somberly, and they understand.

And your heart breaks a little more each day.

And the light of your soul just isn’t quite as bright. 

And the steel of your armor rusts, bit by bit, until the things you’re shielding yourself from start to leak through. 

Mom called hospice two weeks ago. Dad isn’t getting out of bed any more.  And he isn’t eating, though he’s still taking fluids.

So it can’t be too much longer.

But, so far, it hasn’t been today.

Not yet.

Dad had a birthday on Friday.  Since I live 1000 miles away, I had to mail a card.  I already hate greeting cards, because most of them are either insipidly saccharine or blatantly insulting:

Syrupy Sentiment:  Cards that rhyme make me want to shove lit cigarettes into my eyeballs – there’s a reason Dr. Seuss isn’t required reading past the first grade, people:

My love for you is like a song

In my ears, where you belong

My heart will sing it night and day

I hope to marry you someday

<BARF>

Ridiculously Ridiculing:  Birthday cards no longer read “Let’s Celebrate” – they’re all about “ha ha, you’re old, and I find that funny.”  Here comes the fire department to put out your cake, isn’t that hilarious?  (No, but if you send me some shirtless firemen, I might forgive you, just a bit, especially if they bring cake.)

And just try to find a Father’s Day card that doesn’t refer to beer, farting, or both.  Unless it’s one from the cotton-candy sticky-sweet category, you won’t find it.  (I’d insert some examples, but yuck.)

So finding a decent card is tough.  Now find one for your Dad when he’s terminally ill.  Remember, this is probably the last card that you will ever buy for him.  So no pressure.

Dad likes funny pictures of animals, so I headed to that section first in an attempt to find something lighthearted that would make him smile.

Here was my first pick:

dogs1

This looks promising….

dogs2

Um…like Mother Theresa and Jesus?  Not yet, Dad.

I put it back and picked up this one:

cats1Seems appropriate – especially when I tell you that Dad had an orange tabby named Blondie before us kids were born.  And every time he sees an orange tabby ANYWHERE, he says, “Looks like Blondie!”  (Yeah…. Every.  Single.  Time.)  So, hey, here’s Blondie in his fifteen minutes of fame, great card, let’s send it!

And then I opened it.  And HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

cats2

<snort> I AM TERRIBLE.

Laugh or cry, right?

OK, highly inappropriate.  If it were my mom, or ME, this might fly. But Dad’s more of a sentimental, emotional guy, so I settled on a fairly innocuous card with a smiling nun on it that simply said “Happy Birthday” inside.  (Because, since he was raised Catholic, nuns are also funny.  We get him the “Nuns Having Fun” calendar every year.)

And he lived long enough to get it.  So there’s that.

So that’s why I’m angry.

Because I’m really…sad.

And I can’t control feelings like sadness.  OK, full disclosure, I’m not really great with taming anger, either, but it feels more powerful to me.

And power means control.

And you know what I can control?

What I eat.

All this stress has been remarkably effective in helping me control my weight.  Today, I stepped on the scale, and saw a number I haven’t seen since high school.  A number lower than when I was unwell a few years ago and lost weight almost by accident.

Not much lower.

Not yet.

But the hubs actually noticed, as witnessed by this random text he sent this week:

text haha no

I can’t control what happens to Dad.  His itinerary is non-refundable; the only variable is the arrival time.

I can’t control how my spouse feels about things.  I can’t make him more accepting of other viewpoints.  I can’t force him into a mindset of “live and let live.”  I can’t make him see that he’s destroying us, comment by comment, shirt by shirt, letter by letter. He’s asked what he can do…but I already told him, and he’s no longer DOING it.  So what’s the point in adding to the bucket of unmet expectations?  It’ll just glop out onto the linoleum and be another mess for me to mop up.

I can’t control the overwhelming sadness.  This emotion is foreign to me; it feels like an unwelcome parasite, sapping my soul, draining my energy.  It trips me up at random times during the day, jumping out from dark corners, startling me into spilling hot coffee onto my hands.  It reminds me that it’s here.  That I can’t get away from it.

I can’t escape, but I can hide. I can duck behind something I know.  Something I can predict and control.

I’ve made myself a disguise:  hunger.

Hunger I expect.  Hunger I understand.

When you eat less, you feel hungry. 

It’s black and white.  Concrete.  Reliable.

Anticipated.

Welcome.

So I’ll wear the anger blanket instead of the sadness scarf.  It goes much better with the hunger hat that I’ve invested so much of myself into buying.

It’s a classic; I’ve worn it for years.  I don’t know what I’d look like if I had to replace it.

And when the temperature rises, and I’m no longer chilled by the icy emotions that threaten to overtake me – when they’ve been replaced by that gnawing, familiar, hollow, empty nothingness of hunger – I can take off the blanket for just a little while.

I can be a few pounds less angry.

I can remain in control.

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22 thoughts on “Analyzing the Angry

  1. The time of approaching goodbyes is a weight on every breath–each inhalation a suspense and each exhalation signals the anticipation of the last one to come. I recall the macabre humor, strangled with hysteria, when I thought my father had died, only to hear his labored breathing return. It lasted much longer than he wanted it to, but when he finally let go, it was much too soon for my heart. May you find peace in whatever way you need.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a tough transition..not sure there is any way to avoid the rough ride. I gave myself a pass during this time (with my dad) to be and do what felt natural and right. I wasn’t home much, I cried a lot, I was very open about my worries with doctors and nurses in hospice at the hospital- who by the way were wonderful. I leaned hard on the support they offered. My husband gave me space- lots of neutral, empty, quiet space- which is what I needed from him. It was a deep, very profound experience and I grew as a person both spiritually and mentally. I was proud to be strong for my dad..I was proud to be there..my dad made me proud too.

    I’d tell your husband to hold off on his letter..this isn’t the time for it..this isn’t about him right now..there will be time later..right now he needs to respect the boundaries of this sacred, deeply private, highly charged moment in your life.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t have coffee or shoes, but I do know that you are in a dark place and I’m praying for you. I found your blog looking to console my broken heart over someone I walked away from because I was too afraid to commit. It seems my bitter divorce with a selfish and ruthless woman continues to haunt me.

    Your posts lead me to believe that you have mixed feelings about scripture and what it means to you, but you know that you don’t want to be around those that hate God. It’s a conundrum for sure, and with your dad ill, your sound confused, frustrated, and scared.

    Well, at the risk of sounding preachy, our lives are short and messy, but there is one who gave himself up to redeem us. Trust him. Everything else is corrupt and falling away.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Divorce is really tough, isn’t it? Even when it’s the least bad option, it just wrenches part of you badly out of joint, and no matter how much therapy you get, that muscle is never the same.

      You’re right in that I do have some mixed feelings, but I am 100% confident in a God who loves us; I just believe there are several paths He opens to help us get there. (I guess I don’t see religion/spirituality as one size fits all, and I don’t think God limits himself that way, either – I mean, we’re all so different, ya know?)

      But I don’t want to be around negative energy and hate. That I DO know. And it’s tough to reconcile that with love for a person. Sigh.

      Thanks so much for commenting and stopping over. It really helps to hear from other people to know you’re heard. 🙂

      Like

      • I’m not sure what was worse, the divorce or being married to someone that was pretty narcissistic for 14 years.

        Not that I like or desire to label her, but I think that description is fitting. She was either ultra kind and caring, trying to win my affection, or cutting, bitter, and ruthless. This sums up my 14 years with her: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XH3oMNKApI Even my kids don’t want to see her anymore.

        The sick part is that I’ve done the same to the one I was afraid to commit to. I hate that, I’ve become what I hate.

        So yea, divorce is ugly, very very ugly.

        As for multiple paths to a loving God. I cannot agree, simply because that’s not what the Bible says, and I’ve learned over the years to completely trust it.

        I can explain why, but it doesn’t matter, as I’m not here to try and convince you, rather to reach out and let you know that you aren’t alone, and that life is messy, and that there is one we can trust.

        Blessings to you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I suspect my ex was not dissimilar to yours….It can be hard to change the expectations of what a relationship really looks like from the inside when one you were in for so long caused so much pain. We revert back to the roles we’re familiar with….

        Truly appreciate the comments. 🙂

        Like

  4. I’ve never been here before but that was incredibly intense. That’s a lot of stuff for one person to be handling at the same time. Your GAF score should be off the charts.

    It was such compelling reading that I want to see how everything goes. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kate, you okay? Today was a day of incredible heartbreak for me, and for some odd reason I thought of you. I suppose when we are hurting we reach out to others that are hurting.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m a bit late in responding to this one but again…intense and made me very emotional for you. I wish I had the right words. I haven’t been exactly where you are but the emotions can come out the same. Anger can be the opposite of sadness we feel…it’s almost like self protection so we don’t breakdown. I know for me, I’ve done it. If I start crying I might not stop so being angry is easy and it’s a hell of a motivator to keep moving. God Bless you Katie. God is certainly preparing you for something great with all the weight you are bearing right now. Atleast that’s what I believe. You will get through this one day at a time. Remember to take care of YOU in the process! Love and hugs! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Days of Wine and…Popcorn | Carrots in My Carryon

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