Chronic Illness And Anger

When I was still attending church and trying to adjust to a chronic illness, anger was unacceptable. To feel angry was to deny God’s sovereignty in my life. I was told to submit to God’s will and trust Him. The mental gymnastics required to feel angry, but express happiness, tore me apart inside. 

What I wanted to say, needed to say, remained bottled up. I smiled on the outside. I listened to the scripture verses people quoted. I listened to the holy cliches. The more I listened, the more conflicted I felt. I felt crazy, until I left religion. Funny how letting go of my faith allowed me to gain my sanity.

I am so glad I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not anymore. Truth is, I'm angry. All day long I see people who don’t have to deal with muscle spasms and weakness. I vividly remember a life I no longer have. Of course it makes me angry. I have one of those neurological nightmare illnesses. The kind of thing people fear getting. What helps me deal with my anger is acknowledging how I feel without sprinkling it with sugar.

I’m angry, but the Lord knows everything.
I’m angry, but I know God has a plan.
I’m angry, but I shouldn’t feel that way.

No more of that. I’m a human being and I get to feel angry. When I feel angry, I don’t have pretend I don’t feel it. Instead, I recognize that feeling pissed off over chronic illness makes sense. Sometimes I get mad because I have to deal with symptoms, but most of the time I get pissed off over the word, incurable. I hate that word. Incurable. 

Synonyms: Remediless, Unrecoverable, Cureless, Hopeless, Fatal

Venting anger by yelling and screaming tends to make me more angry. Some people can vent their anger and get it all out, but that doesn’t work for me. I just explode. The safer way for me to get rid of my anger is by defusing it. I can write about feeling angry, or listen to angry music. I can play violent video games. When I am angry, I express it without fanning it into a rage. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life having a temper tantrum. I could. I have a thousand reasons why I could yell and scream all day long. I just don’t enjoy feeling angry. It’s exhausting. 

I’ve learned to express my anger for a while, and then back away from it. I back away by doing things I enjoy. I change the music I’m listening to from angry to quieter and more upbeat. I’ll play a different video game, one with less violence, and more laughter. I’ll binge watch something funny on Netflix. Other times I back away from my anger by spending time with friends and family. Or knitting. Or being with my dog. Or reading a good book. Or just sitting outside in nature. 

I give myself permission to lose my temper. I also give myself permission to quiet back down. Giving myself permission allows me to live a quieter, and much more peaceful life. Chronic illness isn't going anywhere. It's not going to stop making me angry. It's not going to stop me from enjoying my life, either.

What do you do with your anger? Do you have any special ways of defusing your anger?

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