what to do when you don’t know what to do with anger

I’ve been grappling with anger lately.

Over the last year I’ve noticed that I spend more and more time agitated and disappointed and feeling hurt by others. I often harbor feelings of anger that seep into my chest and seize me and can’t be shaken off. I find myself awake at night, with a loop of angry thoughts in my head, having imaginary fights. My heart rate increases, the pit in my stomach makes me nauseous. I want them to know, how they’ve let me down, how poorly they’ve behaved. I want them to know how much I hurt. But I don’t tell them, I just lay awake, angry and agitated.

None of this makes me feel good. I don’t feel like a good person or my best self sheltering those feelings. It doesn’t make me feel like the person I want to be. It doesn’t make me proud. It weighs me down, cripples me, impeding my path to lightness and balance.

I’ve always been sensitive, easily hurt, and often disappointed, but this feels new. This level of heaviness and fervor. It feels like too much, and more than I want to carry.

I want to release it all.

So I brought it to my therapist. After my rants, I pleaded with her. How do I let this all go? How do I stop being so affected by others? How do I stop caring what they do and what they don’t do? How do I forgive?

As we broke it down, I realized the anger I was feeling was only directed towards people that know about our struggles of the last two years, know about our losses, and know about the profound effect it’s had on us. But they are the ones that didn’t come through.

The ones that didn’t provide the right kind of comfort, never said the right things, and left us alone in our pain, grief, and isolation.They are the ones that don’t understand how deep this goes. They are the ones that act like life just goes on. They are the ones that said thoughtless things.

I don’t want to have to feel bad about being pregnant around you. Just relax, that’s what I did, look at all my kids! You miscarried because you are too skinny. You miscarried because you are too stressed. Don’t be upset about your miscarriage, it’ll happen, just stop thinking about it.

And then there are the ones that stayed quiet. And continue to stay quiet.

I feel angry at them because I have been hurt by them.

But my therapist and I started to dissect further. Why was it affecting me so much? I have such a huge network of love and support. I have so many people that never let me down. That listen, and try to understand even if they haven’t been through it. That never forget that no matter my smile, no matter my laugh, I’m always carrying a bit of pain inside. And I know, that this kind of loss is not easy to understand if you’ve never experienced it. I know that there’s really no way to understand. 

But eventually I realized the paradox. I have all this anger because I’ve never allowed myself to be angry about our actual miscarriages.

I’ve felt sadness, pain, grief, and loss, but never anger. Subconsciously, I didn’t think I was allowed to be angry. If I get angry at the universe, and start screaming, why me, that means I’m just throwing a pity party for myself. That means I’m not grateful for everything I have. If I get angry that I continue to have to fight so hard for everything I want in life, I’m ignoring all the things that I’ve been given easily.  If I get angry that means I think my struggle is worse than someone else’s struggle. If I allow myself to be angry, what will that do, besides create a pattern of negative, bitter thinking?

Underneath the surface, this is what I thought. And there is truth to it, if you hold on to the anger for too long, you will allow it to permeate, fester, and grip you, making it harder and harder to release and move on. Making bitterness and cynicism a default.

But when something happens to you that sucks, something that’s not your fault, that’s random and throws your world upside down, it’s ok to be angry. My therapist let me know I can be angry about one thing, while still grateful for all the other things. I can be angry without discounting all that I’ve been given. They can co-exist.

I’m a gentle soul with a soft personality, and exploding with anger does not come easily to me. Expressing anger does not come easily to me.

But harboring anger does.

So instead of expressing my anger over our losses, I found targets to direct my anger at, silently and secretly. Easy targets, since I already felt let down by them. But I allowed the anger to grow out of proportion to the slights. I let my anger towards them consume me. I let it dictate my day, my emotional balance, my wellness.

So now I need to go backwards. I need to go back to our two losses, the sweet angel we lost in July 2013, and the sweet angel sibling we lost in December 2013, and I need to allow myself to get mad. It’s not easy for me, when I try to access that I anger I get blocked, like I’m in a dense forest that I can’t get through, and the only thing I can find is the anger I feel at those that didn’t understand, who left us alone. It jumps in front and impedes the true reason for my anger.

But I need to keep trying. I need to get mad.

Get mad so that I can release it, and let it go.

Get mad so that I can feel forgiveness and compassion towards those who have let me down.

Get mad so that I can feel gratitude for all of my loved ones who have chosen empathy, who felt my pain with me so that I wouldn’t have to feel it alone.

So here it goes.

I’m angry.

I’m angry that I lost two babies, two babies that I loved so dearly and wanted more than anything to watch grow up and love and cherish the person they would become.

I’m angry that I have had this joyous rite of passage to motherhood ripped from me, trampled on, and gutted so that it will never resemble what I felt so briefly after that first positive test.

I’m angry that two of the closest women in my life shared my due dates and are now mothers to beautiful babies, while my womb and arms are still empty.

I’m angry that my miscarriages have made me feel like I am not deserving of motherhood.

I’m angry that my miscarriages have taken a toll on my self-esteem, my self-worth, and my confidence.

I’m angry that our once easy and innocent marriage has had to undergo strain, and that now we have to work so hard to stay united and not let the stress of this struggle destroy us.

I’m angry that I have to feel pain with every pregnancy announcement.

I’m angry that we are pressured to stay quiet about our losses. That so many don’t perceive them as real loss.

I’m angry that miscarriage and infertility have controlled our life for almost two years. Causing my career to suffer. Forcing us to always live with uncertainty.

I’m angry that my miscarriages have caused a tear in some of my friendships. The friends that are moms who don’t know what to say. Who look at me with pity and discomfort.

I’m angry that I have to carry this pain, day after day.

I’m angry that my miscarriages have caused so much suffering, for me, for my husband, for my family.

I’m angry for all the other women out there that suffer in this way too.

It’s time for me to work through this anger, the real reason for my anger, and the real reason for my suffering. When I get fixated on how much I’ve been hurt by people, I can remember, it’s not about them. I haven’t been hurt by people, I’ve been hurt by miscarriage. And even though I haven’t completely healed, I am getting there, little by little. And soon, I can release. Pain, hurt, anger. Because this too, shall pass.

i should have become a mother today

Another date I will never forget. 

I should have become a mother today. Our second chance, after losing our first baby. Due just days after the anniversary of our first miscarriage. I consoled myself when l learned that I had another growing bean inside of me by thinking how much I would love this baby too. I would never forget my first loss, but knew once I met my baby I would feel so much love that just maybe I could make peace with that loss. Because without the loss, this person I would love so much wouldn’t exist.

But we lost this one too.

Instead, we are spending today with ovulation sticks, analyzing temps, obsessing over timing, and probably most crushing of all, hoping.

Hoping.

Learning to embrace the ambivalent relationship we all have with hope. Feeling afraid to hope, but also clinging to it as the only means to get through this treacherous experience. I had almost forgotten what this felt like. After a seven month long break, we have officially started trying again. Entering our first two week wait in almost 10 months. Facing the wild swings of excitement and hope, to despair and disappointment. 

And these dates stay with me, haunting me. The one year anniversary of our first miscarriage on Monday. Yesterday marked six years since my husband and I first started dating. Today, an another empty due date. 

I find that I veil the grief that these dates cause by overreacting to the other stress in my life. A small argument brings me to tears. A busy day, and I feel completely overwhelmed. Over the last few days I’ve broken down over anything and everything that’s not actually what I’m upset about. And when I do, the grief starts to climb its way out. I’m no longer thinking about whatever small thing triggered these tears. All I can think about are my empty arms.  I’m thinking about how overwhelmed I feel by this struggle, and the yearning for our baby that continually clutches my chest. 

I wish more than anything I was becoming a mother today. It makes my heart ache. Sometimes I don’t know what to do with the intense longing, or the uncertainty that drives this period. It bubbles up, consumes me, tightens and twists inside of me. I think about it everyday. I think about our lost babies, I think about what more we will endure, I think about when it will finally happen. 

Today I say another goodbye, and bid another due date farewell. I wish I could have met you. 

a year has passed since we lost you

You can feel it in your body before you even look at the date.  A heaviness creeps in, a subtle sadness. And then you remember.  Last year, on this day, we lost you.

The child we thought we would raise and would love and would change our lives forever, vanished with that first smear of blood. 

The family was visiting for the 4th of July. We made a big dinner, complete with an announcement. We’re 8 weeks pregnant, we said, and waved your blurry grey photo. We were greeted with tears and hugs and cries of joy. 

We had seen your thumping heartbeat just a few days prior, the heartbeat that finally convinced us this was real. The heartbeat that made me turn to your dad with wonder in my eyes. 

We already loved you.

I’ll never forget that night you left us. I cried in the bathroom, then slumped in your daddy’s arms. I knew you were gone. But I still hoped, through the car ride to the ER, through the long hours laying in the hospital bed, bleeding. I still hoped, until the stoic doctor with the awkward manner confirmed what I already knew to be true. We would never get to know you. 

A year has passed and we’ve fought and endured much more. I didn’t know that a year after that first positive pregnancy test I’d still be empty, still not expecting, still not holding you. But I’d be in the maternity ward nevertheless, awaiting the arrival of your cousin. I’d again have my family gathered all around, but this time to greet and welcome to the world a different baby. I didn’t know I’d still be without you. 

Sometimes, we can be thankful we don’t know what lies ahead of us.

And as we see this anniversary through, a bit haggard, a bit beat up, a bit tougher, we still remain optimistic. We’ve learned about sadness, about grief, about loss. We’ve learned how to fight. We’ve learned how to find joy amidst the relentless longing.

I’ve spent this anniversary thinking of you. Wondering who you would have been. Feeling at peace, then sometimes not. Feeling steady, then not at all. Feeling how sad I was, that day, when you went away. 

We will always love you, even if you live forever only in our hearts.

him

He’s felt it too. He’s been by my side, seen me on my darkest days, seen me get back up. Held me tight through countless nights, pulled me from my covers on countless mornings.  The bad news that came and pummeled us, stealing our hope and stealing our spirits. The tears and anger that lingered, day after day. He was there.

We didn’t leave each other’s side after our first loss. I needed him close to me, the warmth of his hold assurance that I hadn’t lost everything. He felt it too. He cried in the morning, on my shoulder, in my arms. Seeing his wife in the ER, watching her cry, watching her bleed. He wanted to be strong for his wife, but he felt it too.

We sat at the ocean, watching the waves, talking, then laying silent. We watched movies, played with our dog, took long afternoon naps. We hid from work, hid from friends. One week, to make sense of our loss, to try to get strong.

I still had him.

And then he started to move away. Busy with work, on an airplane every week for his job. He understood the hurt, but was moving on. No longer able to carry the weight of the pain. It was easier to have hope, to believe it was going to be ok. And so I was alone.

Another positive pregnancy test.

And then it was gone.

We tried to be strong. He took me to the hospital, waiting, while they emptied me. Held my hand before I went under, I opened my eyes and he was there.  He went back to work right away, believing he was fine, hoping I was too. He trusted the doctors, and we started to argue. They told me nothing was wrong, they told me to try again. He wanted to believe them, but I never did. And so we argued.

And then I was alone.

We got second opinions, third, fourth, fifth opinions. Found we needed to be fixed. More appointments, more doctors, surgeries and procedures. And more bad news. His work sent him to Germany, and we started to tumble. With 9 hours between us, it swallowed us whole. We cried and argued, feeling the weight, feeling overwhelmed. And then he came back and we held each other, reassured each other.

I still had him.

Time passed and we had no choice but to keep going. We got through. We healed, we got fixed. We hit our lowest low, and then got back up. Thrown again and again, but we got back up. And we got stronger. Strong enough to look ahead with hope in our hearts.

I still have him.