Sunday, December 03, 2023

Can You Hold This for Minute?

I've come to The Blog multiple times and stared at it, wanting to write but not knowing what to say... I visited my therapist the night before Thanksgiving. There were a few tears and some moments of laughter.

"Years ago you told me," I said to him, "that things like this take 3 to 5 years to work through..." 

"We're pretty close to that," he answered.

And I laughed and said, "It's been 8 years."

There remains the question, "Have I worked through it?" and the answer comes in layers. 

I'm grateful he didn't say, "It takes 3-5 years to get over things like this," because there is no way to "get over it." We can only learn to live with the awful truth and grow, however long it may take and however painful it may be, and we (I'm talking my family) are all working through this as individuals which means a myriad of different angles and understandings. It's the most complicated thing we have ever had to do, and honestly, in all likelihood we will be processing some aspect of it until our lives here end.

A few nights ago I had a conversation with a beloved family member who was trying to help me sort through some feelings. I don't think either of us was prepared for the feelings that welled up inside of me. "Anger" is a simple term that covers a broad spectrum of emotions from irritation to blind rage and everything in between. It's a safe word. A "weasel word," if you will.

For years I've known I should feel intense anger, but mostly felt only numbness. Rather than look my own indignation, outrage, or lividity in the face, I placed a cap on the bottle and screwed it down tight, It was too painful to let the emotions out, and besides I didn't even know how. All of my life I have been taught to put myself last, to think of others first, to keep secrets, cover sins, and think the best. I have taken on the emotions of others to the detriment of self, but this time it wasn't about just me. I dragged my feet, searched both scripture and soul, sought wise counsel, and eventually did the hardest thing I have ever done. I moved away from the home I loved, the church I attended, and the man I had married. It ripped my heart out, but in all honesty, it had already been torn to shreds.

Today I recognize the anger inside. I feel it tighten my back, neck and shoulder muscles, and creep down my arms and legs. It has shown up in blood pressure readings, fatigue and depression, as well as regret and feelings of hopelessness. It has brought isolation, loneliness, and insurmountable loss. 

But for all the negative there are positives to anger as well. I learned to set boundaries and an example as well. In spite of the numbness inside, in spite of the swinging pendulum of emotions, I did what needed to be done in order to lance the abscess and bring much needed relief to not only myself but my children as well. Surgery is painful. Healing is agonizing. Physical therapy is hard and exhausting work. (I speak allegorically.) Today I need not only to loosen the bottle cap, but remove the bottle altogether. The problem is that I don't know how to process anger in a healthy manner. I only know how to shut it down.

Please don't tell me I need to "give it to Jesus" because, although I have heard that all my life, I don't have an inkling what that is supposed to mean. Is it possibly enough to admit to myself and others that I am deeply wounded and profoundly angry not only for my children, but myself as well? I am ready to move on and desperately need to let it all go, I'm just not sure where to set the bag.

With all of that said, I have undergone an incredible transformation the past eight and a half years. Life rarely feels hopeless, I seldom isolate, and my family is healing in ways I once deemed impossible. The mirror reflects more peace and happiness with each passing year and I am incredibly grateful for each and every bit of growth, even if I'm not entirely grateful for how it came about.

(I'm headed to Florida on Wednesday morning. Stay tuned for some great times and photos.)


  1. Martha, what an awesome post, beautifully written exposing your very being. Love you Sister and know your trip to Florida will be special and cathartic for you and all you will be with.

    1. Thank you, Sue. I actually feel better after having said it. <3