I’d like to start by addressing the elephant in the room:
I’m ashamed to write this post.
I thought about not writing it at all.
Or writing it but not posting it.
But, that felt fake and false and a little bit like lying.
When I started writing this blog, so many years ago, I committed to sharing the truth of my life — and that meant not just the good parts or the funny parts. That meant all of it.
So here we are.
Friends, this year has been hard.
Quite possibly the hardest of my 34 years of life.
And I have been racking my brain trying to figure out why. I just needed to understand. I like to fix things. I thought if I could identify what was going on, I could fix it.
Turns out that doesn’t work so well.
Nothing has happened.
I don’t have one event or specific life experience to blame.
So I told myself to buck up and get over it. I tried to ignore this gnawing, unfamiliar emotion that kept bubbling to the surface, hoping that if I waited long enough it would just go away.
And one day while driving to my 9 millionth appointment, exhausted and twisting in pain, it dawned on me like a punch in the gut.
I finally understood.
I’m so very, deeply angry.
I’m angry that I’m 34 years old, childless and broke.
I’m angry that my husband is living this life because of ME.
I’m angry that my family and my husband’s family have the burden of… well… me.
I’m furious that when people ask me what I’ve been up to, waiting to hear about hobbies or trips or projects, my answer is that I’ve spent the past 6 months getting rid of a collection of blood clots.
(Hasta la vista Carlos the Clot Sr, Jr. and III… please don’t send any more descendants.)
I’m angry that life has forced me to leave the job and community I loved, and now I work by myself day after day after day. I’m a pack animal, friends. I’m not a lone wolf.
I’m angry that I spend nearly every last ounce of my energy just getting through the monotony of the day, leaving next to nothing for anything remotely looking like fun or adventure.
In a few weeks, I’ll watch my husband and my friends run a half marathon that I ran years ago, and I’ll cheer my face off. I’ll hand off water bottles and yell encouragement and mean every word. But I won’t be running with them, I’ll be standing alone on the sidelines. And I hate that.
More than anything, I’m so angry that I’m angry. I’m ashamed to be angry while surrounded by so much goodness and love and unwavering support in my life. I feel like a giant hypocrite to have so much for which I am so incredibly grateful, and yet to boil beneath the surface.
I know anger is a very normal and expected part of grief, and I would be lying if I said I hadn’t had flitting moments of anger over the years. But I can honestly say that I’ve never felt like this. This is the part of chronic, progressive illness that you don’t hear about. Where you work and work and work to be as healthy as humanly possible, and yet the realization that you may never do more than simply get through the day for the rest of your life falls over you like the heaviest of veils.
Anger makes me uncomfortable. It always has.
To say I am conflict-averse, is to confirm that the Pope is, in fact, Catholic.
I’m not an angry person, I want desperately to jump out of my own skin and sprint from the scene of the jump.
I want to shed this layer of lonely ugliness.
But I can’t.
I’m stuck here, alone with my anger.
Always, always alone.
And it won’t go away.
I have pondered what to do.
I cannot change what is, no matter how desperately I want to.
So what can I change? My attitude?
Can I smiley face and sticker and cupcake my way out of anger?
No, I don’t think that’s how it works.
PSA: Despite the current state of affairs in the hot mess that lies beneath my skull, my affinity for all things cupcakes and puppies and horses and avocados and mountains and The Ellen Show, has not waned. Fear not.
So… what do I do?
If I cannot change my life and I cannot change my attitude and I cannot change who I am as a person… what happens then?
What do I need to fix?
What CAN I fix?
What if I can’t fix… anything?
What if I’m just… angry?
Do I just need to be… angry?
Can I be both angry and grateful? Can I continue to take notice of the multitude of goodness that surrounds me, all while steaming in frustration?
Maybe, just maybe, if rather than hiding from it, if I ride in the front seat of this anger, I’ll discover what I have been so desperately searching for all along — something to pull me out of the pool and stop treading water. Something to open up a life that is more than “just okay.” I’ve written about this a lot over the last year, each time convinced that I was ready to make and be the change. This anger is a roadblock that I didn’t expect, but it is one I must endure, and may just teach me the most meaningful lesson of all of this — that it’s okay to not be okay.
I’m not there yet.
I’m still angry.
I’m still angry that I’m angry.
I’m still ashamed.
But I’ll persist, until someday I’m not.
I’ll persist because at the end of the day, that is my only option.
I believe there is more out there for me — more than just a life of solitary monotony — and maybe I NEED to be both grateful and angry in order to move forward.
I can be angry. I can be downright furious. But, I can persist.
So I will.