Something hit me yesterday. Okay, two things hit me. One was a cat falling on my face at 5 in the morning. He apparently thought he could fit on our headboard, or he might just be a jerk. I’m pretty sure he’s just a jerk. But let’s talk about that other thing. The one that managed to catch me more by surprise than Mr. Thinks-he’s-still-tiny Elliot: anger. Not just damn cat falling on my face at 5 in the morning but real, deep, permeating anger. The kind that makes your heart race and your eyes water and your fists shake.
The kind of anger that desires action.
I’ve become very familiar with this, recently. I know it far better than I’d be proud to admit. Sometimes it’s from envy; sometimes it’s from the unfairness of it all; sometimes it’s sheer frustration. I completely understand now why toddlers throw tantrums. If they could just understand. If they could walk in my shoes, just for an hour. They would get it. It’s confusing, wanting someone to comprehend the depths of a pain I wouldn’t wish for my worst enemy.
I’m sure you’re wondering, what could be so bad. I’ll already tell you, it was petty. Just a Facebook comment, made by someone I will never know, on a page I don’t even follow. The comment wasn’t at me or to me or about me. It didn’t having anything to do with me, even in a general sense.
But it infuriated me.
This person, I thought, THIS person gets babies? No. That’s not fair.
Life’s not fair.
That’s what we have to learn, isn’t it?
I probably could have scrolled past the comment without a second glance the day before. That’s one of the funny things about grieving: it’s volatile. There you are thinking everything is stable. The waters appear calm. A mere moment later, a single leaf manages to stir the entire ocean. You feel it. The words/images/whatever, it hits you like a kick to the gut. Your heart skips a beat and for a moment your arms and legs feel like they could collapse. Your heart races. You’re shaking. You feel like you could do anything, say anything. You feel like you should do something.
So what should you do?
Write down your words before you say them. I know, there’s at least a million things you could spew off, but once you say something, you can’t take it back. No matter how much time passes or how much you apologize. Writing what you’re going to say helps work through some of your energy and gives you time to think about what you mean.
Make sure your anger is directed in the right direction. This ties into writing your words out. Try to identify what’s hurting you. Last week, when my husband answered no to a woman’s question of whether we had any children, I was furious. Was I really upset with him for avoiding a painful conversation with a well-meaning lady we would never see again? No. I was angry that talking about our babies would be a painful conversation. I was angry that I should have been rapidly approaching the end of my first trimester. I was angry our baby is gone.
Let it out. Frequently, you’re going to find there’s no one you should direct your anger at. Go for a run. Punch your pillow. Scream at the sky. Find something that won’t hurt anyone(including yourself) and just let it out. You may look like a crazy person. It’s okay. There are worse things, like losing someone you care about from an outburst.
Speak up for yourself. It is always okay to speak up when someone hurts you. Let me say that again: it is always okay to speak up when someone hurts you. Sometimes well meaning people say things that cut deep. The only way they can know that is a problem is if you tell them. Sometimes people just don’t care about your feelings and say what they want. Rarer, although I personally have experienced it more than once, is for someone to say something to intentionally cause harm. These people, the ones who are trying to hurt, who don’t care, who feel threatened your grief may dim their spotlight, cut them out of your life. Temporarily or permanently. Give them a warning if you want, but you aren’t obliged to.