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Thursday, 26 February 2015

An unfamiliar emotion.

During the last few months I thought I'd gone through all of the expected emotions, but I was wrong. I'm familiar with depression and I've come to accept the wispy melancholic cloud that swirls silently through my world, contaminating it like the smoke from a distant bonfire. Like most things in life, I deal with severe sadness in a rather passive manner. Either I hide from it, behind any apparently pleasurable distraction that comes my way, or I close my eyes and simply acknowledge it, in the hope that my lack of resistance will allow it to pass over me and move on. 
But suddenly there is something even darker lurking menacingly beneath the surface of my existence. It's something that I haven't encountered for many years.... something that I decided long ago was too dangerous an emotion for me to allow in my life. Anger.
It's not that I've never experienced anger before. I have distant yet vivid memories of hurling a baby's bottle across the room and smashing it against the wall because the baby for whom I'd prepared it just wouldn't stop crying.... Of the bedroom door that I slammed so ferociously that its hinges parted company with the wall, causing the door to crash to the floor.... Of the cup of hot coffee that I threw at my errant husband, narrowly missing his head, but drenching him nonetheless with its contents and ricocheting off the wall before smashing on the floor. Yes, I remember anger, and it scares me so much that I have long since banished it from my experience.
I didn't feel any anger, as such, when Suzie's illness was diagnosed, or at any point during the many struggles we faced as a result. I was upset for her, I was frustrated when I couldn't make things better, and I was fearful of what was to come, but not angry. When she died I was inconsolably sad and desolate, but I was able to reconcile that with the fact that my pain only existed because her pain had now ended. During these last few weeks I've been overwhelmed by the 'this time last year' type thoughts that have constantly propelled me back to the most horrible, awful time of Suzie's illness. Even those memories, distressing as they are, can be soothed a little by the knowledge that Suzie has been set free from such terrible suffering. 
People always say 'remember the happy times' or 'hold on to the happy memories', and I've been trying to do that. I've been looking at some old home videos of years gone by.... Suzie was always so full of life and laughter. She loved to entertain people and make them laugh, and she enjoyed having fun. Watching these videos transports me back to a time when life was so good - when love, laughter and hope filled our lives like the warmth of the sunshine on a Spring day.... 
Suddenly I'm filled with absolute rage that all of this has been snatched away from us and that those days are gone for ever. I'm angry with life and with death. I'm so angry with myself for every single moment of Suzie's life that I didn't fully appreciate and perfectly cherish at the time. I'm angry that all the joy and love and fun we shared has been taken away, and I'm so very angry that I'm still here and she isn't.
I don't know how to deal with anger. Unlike sadness and depression, which can be allowed to just 'be there', anger is aggressive and demands a response. Anger is what makes me want to throw things across the room, shout at total strangers, thump inanimate objects until my fists bleed, and attack my own body. This anger makes me curse and swear in a way that is totally unacceptable and appalling to me, for which I hate myself. It makes me want to lash out at everyone and everything. 
Anger frightens me in a way that nothing else does because it's so overpowering and uncontrollable. I don't trust myself to handle it responsibly. Whereas depression causes me to withdraw and hide away in safety, this kind of rage gives way to reckless and impulsive actions that seem to bypass my rational mind. Suppressing it is unsustainable and yet the consequences of not doing so are unthinkable. 
Reading back over these paragraphs I'm struck by the thought that exposing this dark and hideous aspect of my experience may, in itself, be an impulsive action that I will live to regret. I'm ashamed of some of the things I'm feeling and thinking right now, but it occurs to me that there may be others for whom this 'admission' might strike a chord. Maybe there are some nice, respectable and up-standing individuals reading this who are facing similar abhorrent thoughts and emotions, and hating themselves for it. As always, I pray that my openness and honesty might help someone else to feel that they're not alone. 
God bless you.