Thinking about anger threw me for a loop. I had an image of someone in a movie ranting and about cancer, how unfair it was, and how they were so mad and pounding their fists on someone else. Some people do have strong anger episodes. Surely, I experienced anger at my diagnosis, just not the ranting-raving kind. My anger came out as crying in frustration. I was angry to have cancer. I was angry to lose control of my circumstances. I was angry to have my activities curtailed, especially with it being Tristan’s senior year in high school. I was angry to need treatment when I was originally told I probably wouldn’t need it. And I was angry to lose my hair! Still, I didn’t rant and rave as I imagined someone might.
I asked Jeff about this. I said, “I don’t remember feeling really angry.” He looked at me like, uh, yes you were. He said I was angry when he wanted to tell people about my diagnosis. I thought he was mad about it, not me! Jeff also said I was angry that he said he understood what I was going through – I told him he couldn’t understand how it affected my self-image as a woman. I don’t remember expressing myself in anger, but he does. And that’s okay. It happens in communications. Likely, I felt justified in what I was saying, so it came out in an angry tone; I was directing my anger toward him.
I see a connection between what I was angry about and the situations he mentioned. Other than anger toward having this disease and going through horrid treatments, I was angry about losing control of my life. Cancer would be in control. Doctors would be in control. The effects of treatment would be in control. They’d cause me to lose so much. It wasn’t fair to have my life changed. Losing control was the source of a lot of my anger.
So many other emotions mingled with anger that my moods were all over the place. I remember putting on the brave face for people outside of my husband and sons. I tried to play down what I was experiencing. I’d say, ”I’ll be fine,” although I wasn’t sure if I believed it. I reassured friends and extended family because I didn’t want them to think the worst. I wanted them to feel okay about me.
Have you experienced anger from being diagnosed with cancer or another serious condition? Can you relate to my way of dealing with it, or was your experienced different? It’s natural to be angry and good to express it. There’s a fine line between expressing anger ABOUT the situation and AT the people around you. When you’re angry, it’s easy to take it out on loved ones, and they think you’re mad at them. I learned that today, and I hope I remember to focus my anger on the situation, not the person, in difficult times.
Next up: Resignation
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