Let it be
come to tell us
what we most
need to know,
hard though its words
may be to hear.
even when you
cannot believe it,
that it will carry
its own consolations,
that it knows
what to do
that the other face
that it holds the key
to your secret strength,
that the fire it offers
will light your way.
– Jan Richardson (excerpt from Blessing in the Anger)
I’ve never been comfortable with anger. Sadness, fear, joy – I can handle those. I understand them. Although there have been times my sadness felt out of control, like I’d never not be sad again, for some reason I can work with it. Anger though? Notsomuch. I never saw a lot of anger in my immediate or extended families growing up. I didn’t see much anger in my friend’s homes. So, as an adult I’ve shied away from anger.
There were moments in various relationships in which I’ve experienced anger. However, in the unhealthy ones, I was led to believe my anger was unwarranted and that perhaps I was overreacting. I later realized I was angry because I wasn’t allowed to express my feelings – whatever they might be. I’m grateful to be married to a man who allows me to feel whatever I’m feeling. He may not always understand. He may not always like it. He may respond to my feelings with his own feelings. But, I’m never made to believe my feelings aren’t valid or real. Just one of the many reasons I love him.
My therapist asked me awhile back if I’ve felt anger about my infertility. I’m not sure. Maybe not? I know I’ve felt much sadness. Deep sadness. Often times I just live in denial. And, if I’m denying it, what’s there to be angry about?
I don’t want to be an angry person. I don’t want to lash out at people when they ask, “So, do you have kids too?” I don’t want to make those people feel bad by responding, “No, we can’t.” Although, in some ways, I do want to respond like that. I want them to feel uncomfortable and awkward for asking a question that pierces my heart every single time.
Ok, maybe I am angry. I’m angry that my doctor just wants to run another test rather than listen to me – really listen to what I’m asking her. I’m angry that my body can’t do what I dreamt it would do. I’m angry that my heart desires a child. I’m angry that people who probably never should be parents (and yes, I am making a judgment here) have no problem conceiving. I’m angry that some parents abandon their children. I’m angry that the plan I had for my life completely disintegrated before my very eyes. I’m angry that people think I’ve just gotten over it – because I can laugh and smile that means I’m “all better.”
[I think this is a given, but just in case…this isn’t a call for advice or suggestions.]
My current response to feeling anger is crying. I have no desire to punch or destroy or yell. Not now anyway. Maybe some day.
“Trust / that the other face / of anger / is courage.”
It really is a courageous thing to get up each morning. It takes courage to face a new day by showering and packing a lunch and meeting new people and driving downtown. There’s so much courage in loving my nieces and nephews. Courage is finding new friends who aren’t parents of young children.
And that’s just my story. You’re courageous too. You have your own angers to overcome. You face disappointments and earth shatters too.
The other face of anger is courage. And it will light our way. We must trust that. Our secret strength. Let our anger be a reminder of our strength, our courage.