Anger (Mis)managementCongratulations to those of you who marked the third anniversary of my husband's death. Yes, it's been three years, and even the most patient members of my support group are visibly ready for me to GET ON WITH IT, ALREADY. I won't lie; the anniversary was easier this year--less fraught. No weeping. Very few phone calls or messages, but those that I did receive were lovely and necessary and reminded me that I am not the only one in the universe who is truly and deeply sorry that he is gone; nor am I the only one who remembers how smart, funny, and caring he was.
I even managed to "reclaim" my birthday, which, since it falls on the day after his death (his final gift to me was to try to live to my birthday, and he came so close), has been a dreary affair. This year I had a nice dinner, cake, wine, and good friends to help me move ahead into life with him.
Snickollet has a very moving post about anger (as always, she's a far more reliable, informative, and skillful writer about these things). I have to say that my own anger continues to sneak up on me and take me by surprise. Just yesterday we took our dog to the off-leash park. He's been woefully underexercised and undersocialized this term, because of the kindergarten commute and my schedule, so he needed to play. There were too many dogs there, which gets him excited. And while he's not vicious, he does seem to be sort of a provocateur--minor dog interactions sound a bit nastier and seem a bit more frequent when he gets involved. Combined with his pitbull heritage (those jaws are scary, whether or not he intends to do harm) and the fact that this is a "ghetto dog park" (lots of folks with very minimally trained, powerful breeds, and too many un-altered dogs), he's scary, especially to those who don't really understand dog communications. So I keep a close eye on him, and remind him constantly that I am there and that he can't be too rough. He's never rough with smaller dogs; he just tends to be annoying in trying to persuade others to play. After about 20 minutes, there was one scuffle which he didn't start but butted into. One dog assumed the submissive position, and mine was on top. I rushed over and called him off, and no one was injured--in fact, tails were still wagging. But this was clearly out of line. As I leashed him up, a fierce looking guy with a huge dog started chewing me out, rudely, and threatening to call the cops. I was leaving, so I said "we're leaving" and walked away.
But by the time I reached the car I was breathless with rage, and crying almost hysterically. I was furious at the guy, for being rude, at myself, for thinking my dog wasn't being a jerk, at the other owners, for not saying "hey, your dog is a little rough" if that was what they thought, or for not defending me, furious at my dog, for making trouble, at the world, for making life so hard.
This seems to be more common than not these days, and is, perhaps, one of the longest, slowest, most persistent manifestations of grief. As aware as I am that so many people suffer more, and that it's high time I got over myself and on with whatever the next phase of life is going to bring, I still get caught up short by rage: at never having a day off; at my daughter for her constant demands; at the house, which seems to be falling apart out of sheer spite; at the woman who wrecked my car and had no insurance; at my crappy health-care that runs out in November leaving me with $800 worth of sudden bills; at the delivery company that will only deliver during [my] work hours. But just as often, I'm angry about nothing at all. I use the film "Crash" in my teaching, and every time I am brought to tears (for myself, not for her), when Sandra Bullock's character admits that she is angry All The Time.
I know that even if my husband were still here, things would break, bills would come due, my daughter would be demanding (and, of course, she's supposed to be). But the anger doesn't really have anywhere to go, even if it's no longer serving whatever remotely useful survival function it used to serve.
And yes, my schedule next term should allow me to take a yoga class.