Friday, May 11, 2012

staring straight at anger

What can a blogger say when there is nothing new to report? I keep waiting and what keeps coming is nothing. It was my understanding that the clinic would see the other recipient on Monday and what? help trigger her period? Start her on bcps without having a period? I haven't heard a thing since last Friday, and so I put a call in this morning. Nothing yet, of course. I started thinking that the other recipient is probably pregnant. Talk about having conflicting feelings if that were the case. I'd be eccstatic for her, and really effing pissed about the extra delay upon delay. But this is not fact, just mere flotsam from the hypothesis-generating machine. The facts are: I know nothing. We first picked our donor in mid-March and it's now mid-May, and we are no further than we were then.

This intro leads me to the hot topic in my current inner (and often outer) landscape. Girls, it's not pretty. Not ladylike. Not encouraged among the girls we were years ago, and the women we grew up to be.

Anger.

It's a real achiles heal for me. I'm not alone in this, especially not among women. There are entire centuries of social scripts unwritten about how women are not to express their anger. Luckily, I was born at a time when women were fighting to break those scripts.

My mother's feminist penchant notwithstanding, she did not tolerate anger originating from her child, especially not if it was directed at her. She believed that women belonged in the workforce and were the intellectual equals of men. In that way, she was a great role model for me, and I attribute a lot of my own success to her modelling and instrumental support. When it came to emotions though, and still to this day, she was very impaired. She did well with joy, happiness, passivity and contentment. Anything else was outlawed.

We all have horror stories from our childhood, and I'm not going to rehash mine here. I pay a therapist good money to help me plumb the horrors of my past and integrate it. But it's important to know for the tale I'm telling that my experiences of expressing anger growing up were met with threats of annihilation and abandonment. I quickly understood that expressing anger was not a good survival strategy.

What the hell can one do with all kinds of anger one can't express?

The answer is: that depends. For me, it took on different forms, all relating to a lot of difficulty with emotion regulation, which has looked like anxiety and depression most often, and an eating disorder for a solid 4 years of my life, with many more years of disordered eating before and after (and mercifully, not really anymore).

Luckily, in my early twenties, I got a ton of help with this and tackled the anger issue head on. I was going to work on this if it was the last thing I did. As a young woman, I started expressing my anger; at first not very effectively, but over time, much more appropriately. People came to know me as someone who was self-aware and assertive. I liked that person I was.

In most recent years, I've been backsliding on that front. Recently at work, I was dealing with an issue with my supervisor and started crying. It's not a big deal to cry, but when I look back on it, I was just plain angry at him and couldn't hold firm on my position or tell him that he was pissing me off. So, I cried instead. Which was awkward, and really distracted from the fact that he was being a dink.

It's happening a lot in my marriage. It seems like this issue is sinking our battleship these days. Its' not by chance that we marry who we marry. Mr. A also comes from a family where anger is a big no-no. It's a bit ridiculous to see the lengths we'll each go to in order to avoid expressing anger. But the price of doing that is incredibly high. Numbing is a blunt instrument as far as the emotions are concerned. If you don't want to feel and express anger, you're not going to feel other feelings either. Like joy. Like desire. Like connectedness.

I read it in my early twenties, but I've picked it up again. The dance of anger, by Harriet Lerner, is a classic on the subject. Lerner is reminding me about the healthy strivings of my early twenties when I worked with my anger (and all my other feelings) like my life depended on it - because it did. She is reminding me of the need to use my anger to effectively express what I want and need, instead of sucking it back in and doing god knows what with it (revisiting bulimia? I think not).

I am not feeling particularly strong right now, or particularly able to tackle this anger issue, which seems mamoth from where I stand. But if I'm truly honest with myself, my life is starting to depend on it again. And you read my letter to myself from a few weeks ago: I've decided my life is apparently worth living.

12 comments:

  1. Ugh, how frustrating. What the hell, clinic? That is so long to wait in limbo. Limbo always brought out my anger too. I hear you on the anger front. My husband struggles with it more than I. I definitely let it out, pretty or not. But then my achilles heel steps in- guilt. We all have them.

    I hope that while this truly sucks, maybe it can be a beneficial issue for you to work through? It will help you to be a better mommy. In this post, I hear you saying you are ending up handling anger in a similar way, and what better time to work through it? I struggle a lot with how anger will be handled in our household.

    Anyways, that's enough of my silver lining crap. Hope things speed up for you soon. This is ridiculous!

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  2. I hate that expressing anger is so hard for women. I have only ever cried at work because I was angry and I have walked out immediately after starting, which was also something I hated doing. What is it with expressing yourself and standing your ground that is so scary?

    I wish that the process to being the real you was an easy path. I know that to be a better person, a better spouse, to be a better you is always freaking work. HARD work, too. Easy to slip back into hiding and let what makes you miserable surround you. I know it can feel like you are drowning in it. That 20-year-old Augusta has moxie that the current Augusta has. You have gone through too much in all those years and I know that there will be a reserve of courage and strength to tap into. Your friends out here are armed with as much love and support as we can to help you dig and dig deep until you find it.

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  3. I'm sorry you are being made to wait by your clinic. That stinks, on top of everything else.

    I've struggled with anger most of my life, but in a different way: I used to have a hard time controlling my temper. (Not sure whether keeping it in or letting it out--in less than productive ways--is worse.) It's gotten better over the years, through concerted effort on my part, but sometimes rears its head when I'm particularly stressed.

    I know you have all the tools you need to work through this issue. y best to you as you sort through it.

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  4. I read book in grad school, thinking maybe it is time to dig it out again. I agree with you about the expression of anger (as well as feelings such as jealousy and envy). I was taught that is not what good girls so, and I try really hard to be a good girl (my core issue, I think).
    I hope you can find some outlets for yourself that feel comfortable- like exercise (think like kick boxing or something else aggressive) or journaling.
    Anger is a valid emotion and so are its expressions, in their appropriate forms. I hope you allow yourself to feel this.
    I am always with you on this journey and so hoping that you start up soon
    all my love,
    c

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  5. I am frustrated at your clinic for you! Great and insightful post. My husband will ask me if I am mad at him and I will reply no, I am just frustrated. But when I think about it, yes, I usually am angry, just not comfortable using that term.

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  6. Grrrr...this waiting is killing me too!! I hope you do something decadent for yourself this weekend to cheer you up. Take care...

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  7. Oh, anger. Not only do we suppress it because it's not for girls, but when we do express it then we run the risk of being written off as "too emotional." It's a real catch-22 and this post really captures the bind we find ourselves in--and it gets to a point where you couldn't express it if you wanted to. It sounds like you have had a long journey with anger, and I'm sending you all the internet love I can (wait, that sounded creepy...).

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  8. I'm so sorry you're feeling like this, I know this one well. Anger was well used in households I lived in when I was young so I always felt(eel) "bad" when I get angry..I hope you are able to work through this part soon and get on to better things.

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  9. When you want a baby YESTERDAY every little wait is torture, and this wait that your clinic is putting you through feels particularly cruel, with the lack of communication and info. I'd say anger is a pretty justified emotion right now.

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  10. Ooof. I am so completely terrible at anger. I'm great at keeping in bottled in until it comes out in a vast spew, which is SUPER productive.

    I feel like there has to be someone at that clinic that will go to bat for you. I'm sure cases like this--where a donor is shared--are particularly complex, but there's no excuse for leaving you hanging. It breaks my heart. I think in this case patience is not the right response, and anger is. Righteous anger, that unfortunately has to be repackaged in order to accomplish something.

    ANYHOW, I think the others have put it so beautifully. You've got all the skills you need to get through this. It's just so wretched that you have to.

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  11. I'm pissed at the clinic. And they're a "good" clinic, too (allegedly). But clearly they need a fricking adjustment to the way that they conduct themselves. It's ridiculous. How could you not be angry? You've been in the dark for too long. It's very hard to live life on the edge of your seat, day after day. And to NOT have things materialize.

    I'm sorry Augusta. You deserve for this part to be smooth sailing. And I'm really pissed pissed pissed that this is not the case.

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  12. So damn frustrating to say the least. I'm very sorry that the clinic has gone radio silent for you. It's not right and they should not be conducting business this way. I don't care how much we may need them, they should still show us the respect we deserve. After all, without all of us infertiles out here, where would they be?

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