Through It, Not Over It: On Anger
I’m at my therapist’s office, the same one as a year ago when I was working through losing my twin boys at 20 weeks. Now I’m here for them and my son who died at 3 weeks old in August. She’s going through my assessment, a weekly checkup to see where I am emotionally.
I can hear myself say, “And angry. I feel really mad, all the time. Mostly just angry.” It’s added onto everything.
She pauses at the end and says, “I’m seeing this time around a lot of anger – much more than the profound sadness that seemed to encompass you before Christmas.”
I nod, feeling terrible that I can’t seem to find a less, well, angry feeling. “I feel angry that I don’t have a 5 month old, that I don’t have my 18 month olds. I’m mad that everyone else gets their baby. I’m mad about everything to do with this. I can’t be happy for anyone, I feel cheated out of the life that so many others take for granted. And I hate that. I hate being this way, feeling like this. It’s overwhelming and I do not want to be this person. I am trying so hard to pull out of this because it feels like a huge weight that I can’t carry. It affects everything.”
I fully expect her to tell me that we need to work on the anger, which is only a symptom of other feelings. That I should focus on being sad, or how it feels to see my friends bring home healthy babies. Anger isn’t the problem, right?
Instead, what she says astounds me.
“You need to be angry. You need to stop trying to find a way around the anger or eventually you’re going to come to a point in life where it comes out in another moment and you’ll have to deal with it then. If you can’t let yourself be angry and really work on validating these feelings – you’ll get stuck on repeat here.”
This makes me even madder for a minute. I hate feeling like this. Of course it’s not normal, no one wants to be angry so much of the time when I think about my sons or life. It’s exhausting and makes me feel like complete crap. I want to just move on, skip to the next grief phase. Fine, let’s validate my right to be angry about the past 2 years and then move on.
But I know she’s not going to let me do this unless I flat out tell her that’s what I want.
Deep down, I don’t want that. I want to heal from some of this; never fully. I understand that. But a little more than I am now, slowly working on becoming a person who isn’t dragging the ball of grief along with her the rest of her life. If I refuse to be angry, genuinely angry, I won’t ever get to that point.
There’s a part in Finding Nemo where Dory tells Marlin they should swim through the trench, not over it. Of course he thinks she’s insane because the trench looks terrifying while the top looks crystal clear and perfect to keep going without interruption. If you haven’t seen it:
A. You are missing a large part of life fulfillment.
B. Marlin finds out they should have gone through the dark, scary trench instead of taking the easy way out.
That’s my mantra right now. “Through it, not over it.” It’s terrifying and uncomfortable. I want to be anyone else but that angry lady who resents everyone that takes home a baby while 3 of mine sit on a shelf. I wish I had the mental power to click “like” on a pregnancy announcement. I want to silence that inner voice that says, “Their baby has nothing to do with yours, so what’s the problem?” and yet it’s still there, asking why?
I didn’t go through my anger enough with the twins. I short circuited it with a rushed, then failed, adoption and a pregnancy quickly after. This time there’s no escape. I have to face my anger to become the woman, mother, wife, friend, human being I so long to be.
Through it. Not over it.