Anger

holdingontoanger

 

Today it was pointed out to me by someone who’s opinion I trust and respect, that I very rarely get angry.   This wasn’t the first time this was pointed out to me and I wanted to explore this further.   I said anger is an emotion I am not comfortable with.  I hate the emotion when it is displayed in others and especially when it’s directed at me.  I try very hard to live and act a certain way, so as not to hurt or anger anyone.  My intent is always pure and I expect others to act the same way.

But is it healthy not to get angry?  Can’t I be pure and good and nice and still display anger.  Am I harming myself  by not getting angry when it is warranted?  Shouldn’t I be angry that I am chronically ill and have no idea when (or if) I will ever return to health?  Shouldn’t I be angry that I had to stop working and go on disability?  Shouldn’t I be angry that I had to sell my co-op that I owned for 20 years and move to a neighborhood near my mom and sister, so that I had a support system near by.  Shouldn’t I be angry that I have been removed from society for 5 years and not able to move on with my live?

When I read this, I’m thinking of course I should be angry, but I’m not.  Or is this anger so suppressed  and buried deep within me, that it is keeping me ill and I don’t even know it.  It would be a lie to say that my life and my health haven’t changed for the worse, but I think I am making the best of a difficult situation and I just don’t see how being angry that this happened to me is of any use.

I grieved for the loss of my pre-illness life, as I would a loved one.  In fact, I was going through this period of mourning my old life, when my dad past, so I grieved for them both at the same time.  Just as I deeply miss my dad, I deeply miss the life I had, but as time moves on and you become more removed from the past, the new normal is your reality.  While I remember and have flashbacks of my dad when I see a mailman on the street (as that was his occupation), or when I have to parallel park (as he taught me how to expertly do that), I also have flashbacks and pangs of sadness when I think back to my working and dating days.  But not anger, never anger or rage.

I’m starting to wonder if this is normal.  I never really thought about it before like this.  What good is constantly reliving the past in our minds, it only holds us back from moving forward.  I have so many physical constraints, I don’t want to think that my mind is causing me to prolong my illness and recovery.

I strongly believe that a very important component of me getting well and feeling better is adapting to my new reality.  Even though my life is difficult, very difficult at times, I still have an inner peace that sustains me and helps me go on each day.   There are days when I feel useless and not productive, but I never feel like my life is without value or worth.

My particular chronic illness is an extremely physically draining one, but I would be foolish to think that it isn’t emotionally draining too.  The more I adapt to my current surroundings and my new limits, the happier I feel I will be.  I am very thankful, that before I became ill, I was a very resilient, easy going individual and this resilience has served me well.  I also am thankful that I have a social support system that is available to me when I speak up and ask for help.

So as suggested to me, for the next 30 days, I am going to keep a diary of situations that occur and my response to them and see if anger is warranted in any of the situations when I review the day in my diary.  I am hoping I don’t have too many entries!

 

Forgive and Forget

forgiveforget

 

I’ve written about a certain friend I have several times in my blog.  This friend is one of my “toxic” friends, who spread negativity and suck the air out of a room when they enter it.  They have hurt me more times than I can count and I swore to distance myself from this person this year.  But what do you do when out of no where they appear at your door, in a very fragile state, and apologize for every hurt they have caused you and tell you that you are one of the strongest people they know and respect me more than they can say for how I’m dealing with my chronic illness.

The apology was sincere and making an apology is an act of courage,  not a sign of weakness, as many people see it.  Fear usually delays the apology, fear of rejection or humiliation and this is very unfortunate because most genuine apologies elicit gratitude as a response.  I believe a sincere apology is one of the most profound human interactions between 2 people because the desired result is the reconciliation of a broken friendship.

Do people change?  Can you move forward in a relationship with someone and wipe the slate clean?  I am trying to do that, but am just not sure that this insight wasn’t a momentary lapse because my friend hit a new low and realized that she has problems, real emotional and mental issues to deal with.  Acknowledging the problem and fixing the problem are two very different things.

For the time being I will approach this friendship with caution and see if there are any subtle signs of change.  I hope for their sake they are going to try and get help because the path that they are walking down is not a good one.

But since I am a strong person, I will forgive them for the hurts they have caused, but I am not sure I can forget.  Maybe my brain fog will help with that!!

No Pity Please

pity

Recently I was trying to explain the difference between empathy, sympathy and compassion to someone who obviously doesn’t feel any of these things when thinking about friends, family or the world at large.  

My conversation with this person wasn’t going well and it was on an afternoon where I didn’t particularly feel good to begin with, so my frustration levels were high.  My friend was complaining yet again about the circumstances of her life and at some point I couldn’t take it any more and said , “Please stop and look who you are complaining to” and she shot back “So you want me to feel sorry for you”.  I said the last thing that I want is your pity. I want your understanding and compassion for my situation, not your pity.

She was dumbfounded and didn’t know the difference and when I added that you are the least empathetic person I know, that really threw her.  I realized that at 50+ years old, she really didn’t feel for other people and other conversations started replaying in my mind about when she only cared about how events affected her well being and not the world at large.

I have been told at times that I am an extremely empathetic person and have always been criticized for that when I was in the workforce.  I would constantly put myself in other people’s shoes and really understand the predicament they were in.  I do it in life too, but it always came up as a negative on my performance reviews (but all my superiors were men and men as a group are generally less empathetic than women).  I never considered empathy a negative as I believe it makes me a very caring and understanding person.  It helps me get into the heads of people in my live and understand their actions and movements better. In my opinion, if you lack empathy, you have a deficit in understanding the emotional states of others.

So I’d rather be a feeling, considerate and compassionate person and care about my group of friends and family, as well as, the world at large, even if it causes me to worry at times for others.  I feel sorry for my friend as she is missing out on connecting on a much deeper level with people and the universe.  Maybe she isn’t really a friend, but just an acquaintance.  I wonder if she knows the difference between those 2 words…

 

For others who never thought about the difference between these words:

empathy

Empathy is the ability to mutually experience the thoughts, emotions and direct experience of others. It goes beyond sympathy, which is a feeling of care and understanding for the suffering of others. Both words have similar usage but differ in their emotional meaning.  Empathy invokes an understanding what others are feeling because you have experienced it yourself or can put yourself in their shoes.  Sympathy is acknowledging another person’s pain or hardships and providing comfort and assurance. Compassion is a very deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it.