"Anyone can become angry. That is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way......that is not easy." Aristotle
I've been reading a few of my fellow blogger friend's recent posts and there seems to be a common theme....anger. I was reading this post because the title caught my eye. "It's so much easier when your pissed." I totally got it. Being a parent and knowing that loving that child (even adult child) means you have to separate the addiction from the addict and have the courage to tell the addicted part of that child to go take a flying leap in the hopes of recovering your child can be most frightening. It is a very scary endeavor. Sometimes, it does take a little anger to give you the courage to do what you need to do.
I decided to look up the definition of anger. It is "a normal emotion with wide ranges of intensity. A reaction to a perceived threat to ourselves, our loved ones, our property, our self image or some part of our identity. Anger is a warning bell that tells us that something is wrong."
Colin Powell wisely said "Get mad, then get over it." Anger is our bodies way of saying prepare for danger. It causes heart rate, blood pressure and energy and adrenal hormones to rise. A gift when in a tough spot but long term these things can cause a host of problems.
Children who are not allowed to express their anger and who aren't taught healthy ways of expressing emotion tend to learn to suppress anger. This can lead to pathological expressions of anger such as passive aggressive behavior or getting back at others without telling them why or can lead to a cynical or hostile personality. This inability to constructively express anger makes it difficult for those folks to have many successful relationships.
With all of that said, I then went to read this post and read the post titled "Mad." This post seems so appropriate too. She writes about the frustration and anger felt when you aren't the addict or one with mental illness. Both situations are so draining on the caregiver. This author doesn't dismiss the difficulty that the addict feels nor does she love him any less because of his problems. But, sometimes when we are out of the immediate danger and fear for the safety of a loved one, we feel the fatigue associated with living with constant fear, panic, frustration and worry. Our heart rates, blood pressures and fight or flight hormones have worked overtime, leaving us totally spent.
We are ALL broken. Every last one of us (at least in my humble opinion). And, it is important to try to understand one another. It is important to remember that the addict isn't just a big party animal but a person wanting to escape pain. The scared parent that takes some time to warm up to getting pissed off in order to do what she needs to do because it's so scary, isn't just a weak enabler, but just so frightened. The parent pissed off because she is tired of dealing with the fallout associated with addiction and mental illness isn't dismissing what they go through she is just expressing her frustration and fatigue of this long fight we're all fighting.
I get angry too. I get mad at doctors who loosely write prescriptions for pain killers. I get mad at convenience stores that sell bongs. I get mad at tv, movies and music that glorify drinking and drugs. I get mad at generations past for the pain they caused that make things hard for me. I get mad at my own inability to properly love my kids so that they didn't feel that they could come to me. I get mad at people who portray addicts as morally decrepit individuals.
My husband had an employee who knew that we were going to counseling because she read this blog. She started talking about it with others. I don't know exactly what she said but what came back around was that we were having marital problems. It resulted in clients calling his clinic asking about us. It resulted in clients treating me differently. She knew that I write this blog under a pen name. She knew that what I talk about here is private and for those I trust. She knew how hard the previous year had been for us. She had seen the fear and worry that we carried day in and day out. She had seen pools of tears shed but I guess that didn't matter, because she did it anyway. This sent me stark raving mad, which by definition means that I was so disordered in mind that I was carried away by intense anger.
"Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be." Thomas A Kempis
What I try to remember is that this individual is broken too. That doesn't mean that I will ever trust them again. It doesn't mean that I won't get mad at addiction. It doesn't mean that I won't quit getting mad at unhealthy behaviors or ignorance. It just means that I might have a little more compassion and will have my time with anger. I will dissect it and try to learn from it and pray that I can then let it go.
One of the little gems that I am gleaning from my counseling ( which by the way is one of the healthiest things I've ever done and we all have marital problems if we're married) is that I am entitled to MY feelings. They aren't right or wrong. They just are. What I do with them is what's important. Maybe anger is good if it gives us necessary courage or allows us to blow off some steam before our heads blow off.
Today, I am thankful for this blogging community of addicts and families of addicts. I am thankful for the knowledge and insight that they give that a lot of "normal" folks could really learn from. I am thankful for the knowledge that the hard places have provided for me. I pray for perseverance for us all and as always a prayer for the soul of my grandfather, Henry.