When Grief Becomes Angry

…and in the days that would follow her sudden death and burial, I came to realize that anger was simply easier than grief. Being pissed off – blatantly or subtly – became my frequent companion…a sarcastic friend growing more familiar and more constant. Depending on my many moods, I could be increasingly more annoyed, displeased, aggravated, irritable, indignant, hostile, bitter. Rage became less uncommon. Obsessed with whose to blame, I was on a mission.

Grief was my slow burn. Drinking more, gambling more, high more…even fucking more. More avoidance became my elixir for less pain. More distractions. Make no mistakes. I’m sure you don’t understand. I have every right to feel like this.

You don’t understand and I’ve convinced myself you can’t understand. I’m misunderstood.

Pretending fairly well at work, most days anyways…I am worse alone. Little things became big issues with no effort. Traffic, spilled milk, Fox News, just running late…no matter…stupid people piss me off. I don’t need the aggravation. Easily distracted, I crave new and different ways to keep my internal departments in tight order and declare to all I have no interest in dealing with any of that shit… I told you I don’t care!

I’m not going back…there’s no returning. Dead is dead. All that’s left is her ghost that haunts me.

But all the while, I would surely know my anger was my poison. Toxicity leaking gradually into my thinking, my loving, my body, my soul. Pushing others away while making room for “just let me be” and my growing desires to control anything or anyone that’s really uncontrollable. I don’t want to hear it.

OK…You happy now? I Googled it.
Pissed is best than helpless, hopeless and disinterest.
Bad sleep, bad energy, preoccupied…not much interest anymore.
Sometimes reckless… I said “fuck it.” It don’t matter. Hypercritical, more judgmental but don’t ask me to decide. Self-loathing. Aches and pains…back hurts…stiff neck…I’m sore, God damn it!

I don’t remember when I missed the part that I was dying too.
Leave me alone. Let me be. Get away. I got this. No!
Beyond what I used to think was love… what I felt was love – I was dying too.
Gradually, not suddenly, I found the careless truth in that old sad song: “You always hurt the one you love.”

Now I know how love hurts. Anger is the mask I wear. I disguise the grief and loss and fear I keep because you died on me.
My secret is that I’m so scared.

*I dedicate this post to all who grieve the loss of love and are left with fear.

When Grief Becomes Angry

Lent: 40 Days of Self Acceptance?

Lent is an annual Christian religious observance of 40 days, from Ash Wednesday through 6 weeks lasting until Easter Sunday. Believers are expected to prepare themselves spiritually by saying special prayers and blessings, doing acts of penance, repenting for their sins, almsgiving, making atonement and performing acts of self-denial. Frequently persons will abstain from eating meat, enjoying their favorite foods or denying themselves some gratification for the duration.

Lent honors the the story of the 40 days Jesus spent alone in the desert prior to beginning his public ministry which culminated in his arrest, crucifixion and resurrection. During that time, the New Testament tells us Jesus fasted in the desert and overcame a series of temptations by the Devil. Indeed, for most Christians, Lent is a sacred time for self-reflection and preparation for Easter, the most holy day of the Christian year.

As a boy and young adult, I took Lent very seriously practicing a wide range of spiritual techniques based on what I realize now were very negative messages regarding my sinful unworthiness. I profoundly accepted that I was a bad boy born with the defect of original sin. I harbored guilt and sorrow quite well and could easily remind myself of my sins, faults and weaknesses.

Since then, I’ve spent the past 35 years of my professional life counseling thousands of people. Almost every person I’ve encountered as a pastoral counselor or minister is broken in some way. Broken thoughts, broken hearts, broken bodies, broken spirits – we are broken. Indeed, I’ve spent most of my life helping people fix themselves.

I do not dishonor Lent or its spiritual practices. I am aware that most Christians find purpose, meaning and comfort in the season.

But this Lent, I am an interfaith minister. My meditation shows me a different path. I choose to share it in the hopes that it may resonate with some blog followers looking for an alternative road to healing.

This Lent, I’m suggesting 40 days of self-acceptance.

Think about it.
What would it be like if you prayed for and blessed yourself?
If your special prayers included gratitude for being created in the image and likeness of the Universe?
If your repentance included your own self-forgiveness?
If your set money aside to to provide a little bit of charity for yourself?
If your atonement for your sins/failings/mistakes included making amends to yourself?
If you practiced acts of self-approval, self-affirmation and self-acceptance?

Imagine celebrating the very best of who you are…your real self-worth…for 40 days.
40 days of positive inner conversations; 40 days of focused attention on who you are and where you’re going; 40 days of self-nurturing.

I dare say we’re all really excellent sinners. We know how to do bad things quite well – to ourselves and to each other. We’ve got evil down.
We’re already masters at malicious thoughts, angry feelings, unhealthy behaviors and disillusioned spirits.

This Lent, consider some self-love. I am especially shouting out to those of you are struggle with depression, anxiety and addiction.
Consider making this Lent different.

I’m not talking narcissistic, exaggerated self-importance or public ego games played out in social media.
I am talking celebrating the best of who you are while trying on some new ways to experience yourself with less judgment and a little more adventure.

Celebrate your miracle. Happy Lent!

As always, I welcome your comments. Blessings.

Lent: 40 Days of Self Acceptance?