Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What to do With the Anger

I had admitted that I was angry.  I had identified some of the reasons for my anger.  I knew who I was angry with (sometimes it was everybody around me!).  Now I had to figure out what to do about my anger and how to express it in appropriate ways.  My counselor, the preacher, and the books had many suggestions ... exercise, garden, go to a secluded place and scream, beat a pillow, start a journal, vent with a friend or counselor, join a support group, pray.  Every outlet they suggested doesn't work for every person, though.  I had to take the TIME to find which of these worked for me.

I knew without even trying it that gardening wasn't for me.  I've never been very interested in planting things or working in the yard.  Eddie always took excellent care of everything outside so there was never a reason for me to.  I've always enjoyed walking, so I gave that a try.  I realized quickly that I had to find somewhere other than our neighborhood to walk because that was where Eddie had always done his walking (he was always big on exercise).  So I started going to a park in town that had a walking trail.  I didn't want to go to a gym because I needed to be outside.  The walking was good exercise but it didn't really relieve my anger.  I went to a support group meeting one time, but decided that wasn't for me.  I knew before I went that I wouldn't like it.  I probably should have gone with a more open mind, but I had been to Alanon meetings in the past and hated them.  I didn't want to talk to my family or my friends about the anger because I felt like they were already hearing enough from me about my grief.  I tried sitting in my car with the windows rolled up and screaming, but that just gave me a headache.

I found that I benefited the most from two things that were the complete opposite of each other - writing in a journal and beating on something.  Writing gave me a calm way to express my anger.  I could put my feelings and the reasons for them on paper, then do whatever I wanted with them.  Sometimes I kept what I wrote.  Sometimes I ripped it up and threw it away.  A couple of times I even burned what I had written.  The more I wrote the better I felt.  It was like yelling at someone without making any noise.  The beating and punching gave me a physical way to express my anger.  Sometimes I beat on the pillows in my bedroom, but most of the time I took it out on Edde's recliner.  I think I was still trying to make myself angry at Eddie himself.  I used my fists, my blow dryer, other pillows, even Emily's ball bat.  The beating and punching exhausted me, so I didn't have the energy to feel anger after I finished. 

Finding the right outlet for my anger doesn't mean that I never took it out on others, though.  Looking back I realize there were times that I snapped at family and friends, times I said hurtful things, times I withdrew, and times that I was probably downright rude.  I had to hope that others realized that wasn't the real me, that it was just the grief "talking".  I was finding out that at least for a time grief turns you into a totally different person - sometimes I didn't even recognize myself.

"In the midst of your daily storms, make it a point to be still and set your sights on God.  Let God be God.  Let him bathe you in his glory so that your breath and your troubles are sucked from your soul.  Be still.  Be quiet.  Be open and willing.  Then you will know that God is God." -Max Lucado

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