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.

cyst check and next steps

My cyst was smaller, but not small enough. We were told to continue sitting this cycle out, and I was instructed to remain on pelvic rest.

Disappointing, but I’m ok. I’m back on my feet.

Sometimes it takes me a few days. I need a few days to crash, and cry, and embrace all my despair in the form of dramatic sobs and refusing to get out from under the covers. My helpless husband stays by my side, trying to cheer me up by enticing me with fro-yo or by bringing me surprise bouquets of flowers. But he knows. Once I’ve had my monthly tantrum, I always find it a little easier to pick myself up, accept reality, and move on.

And so I’m moving on. But since I’m always a girl with a plan, I had to come up with something new to keep myself calm and help me believe that this next cycle will be The One. As my therapist has pointed out, so much of my hope is attached to action. When I’m forced out of action, and I have to just sit and wait and lessen my control grips, I start to spiral downward. Downward to that negative place that eats hope and smacks down positivity. Which is why this cyst and sitting out this cycle hit me so hard.

And although my therapist continually encourages me to make peace with sitting and waiting and acknowledging that I have no control, I tend to resist it.

My next action item is to do an HSG, which I requested today. I’ve had every single infertility test out there, except this one. Because I’ve gotten pregnant, and an HSG checks for blockages in the fallopian tubes that would prevent a pregnancy from even occurring in the first place, my doctors have brushed it aside and told me I didn’t need it. Which is probably true. But I was also told I didn’t need a saline ultrasound, which is the procedure that led us to discover that I had a large uterine septum and likely the cause of my losses.

After two miscarriages, a D&C, and a hysteroscopy I need some reassurance that every bit of my reproductive track looks pristine. I tend to lie awake at night wondering, has any scar tissue developed from the hysteroscopy I had 5 months ago? Is there some weird thing going on in my tubes, that’s going to now prevent me from getting pregnant again? Has the chaos of the last two years destroyed anything or broken anything in there? I know this last bit makes no sense, but still, I lay, and I worry.

The HSG will answer these questions and hopefully give me some serenity and confidence to continue moving forward. And as an added bonus, I wouldn’t mind the extra fertility boost that the HSG is known to give, as that lovely dye paves the way for a smooth ride for that sperm and that egg.

I know there are horror stories out there about the HSG, and it probably seems a little crazy to beg for this unpleasant procedure. But I am a worrier. I love to fret. I develop irrational fears. Repeat pregnancy loss makes all those tendencies ten times worse. And so if there’s one thing in this process that we left out and didn’t check, it will haunt me day after day.

Peace of mind is a precious thing. I’m willing to let someone shoot dye through my fallopian tubes and uterus just for a little bit of it.

hopeful but damaged

Flipping the channels the other morning I landed on Live with Kelly and Michael. I paused for a moment, thought about watching, then changed the channel.

That show reminds me of the waiting room at my RE’s office. For some reason, every time I’m there it’s playing. As I wait to get called into my appointments I stare at the TV screen; only half watching because my nerves are usually too much of a distraction to focus on anything.

Seeing that show flash on the screen in my living room, I immediately was flooded with how I feel when I’m sitting in that waiting room.

Hopeful but damaged.

I sit in that room with all my wounds and scars. I take deep breaths to steady my heart beat and eliminate the pit in my stomach, driven by the expectation of bad news. I wearily eye the others sitting in the room, wondering what they’ve been through, and what’s ahead. I wonder if they’ve cried the same tears I have and carry the same dented baggage that I do. I wonder if their perfect composure belies the struggle that they’ve been through too.

But the waiting room also offers the entry to answers and to making our wishes come true. I’ve grown so attached to my doctor. I wish that when we finally do get a viable pregnancy, she could hold my hand through every ultrasound and at the end be the one who delivers my baby. I never want to leave that office. I find comfort there.

Sometime I just feel like people think that you have a miscarriage and you’re sad for a little while and then you’re over it, I cried to my husband once in a moment of self-pity.

But it stays with you! I continued through my tears.

It stays with you. I feel damaged sitting in that waiting room. I feel weathered and sensitive and like I’ll never be the same.

Sometimes I want to scream, just because I’m smiling does not mean I’m ok! Just because it’s been 8 months does not mean I’m ok!

There is a gaping hole in my heart, and it’s still so raw. And it can’t close because I still want this so bad. And everything around me reminds me of it.

I’ve gotten better at coping. And pretending. And managing my emotions. I can feign happiness at a pregnancy announcement, I can hold your baby and tell you how happy I am for you. I can even press ‘like’ on all the baby pics that flood my Facebook feed. I’ve learned how to shut down a part of myself when I need to. I can go numb. I can momentarily force myself to forget the pain.

But privately, it all comes out. I never escape unscathed. Nothing that I compartmentalize and pretend is ok ever just goes away. It always finds me. Finds me in the form of a tightened chest and a stubborn knot in my stomach by day, and then pillow smothered sobs by night. Or sometimes it’s a slow build, where I tell myself over and over I’m fine, until finally it swallows me and I have no choice but to let it out.

I feel traumatized.

I started out with so much happy faith and expectation, but was greeted with blood and loss and uncertainty and heartbreak and having to say goodbye to the babies I would never meet. And ever since, I spend my days fielding a land mine of triggers. This journey is so painful because we can’t hide from what triggers our trauma and our pain. We can’t hide from baby strollers and our best friend’s pregnancy announcement and our 2 month old nephew.

We are forced to face it every single day.

After my miscarriages, I was surrounded by expressions of concern and care and I felt like I could openly grieve. And I believed that all these empathetic faces around me really understood my pain. I’ve been lucky in that sense, and would never undermine just how much love I’ve felt from friends and family.

But time goes on. And I’ve been forced to keep living with that same amount of pain. My family and friends can’t scoop me up every single day, can’t give me a constant swaddle of affection and support. And I know people stop knowing what to say, as days turn to months, and months turn to years. And that’s when isolation starts to creep in, and the silent grief. Because the pain lives on.

And as we try to conceive once again, with faith and hope our only fuel, we ache. Every negative pregnancy test brings you back to that feeling of loss. You spend two weeks wondering, hoping, and imagining you are pregnant. Day dreaming of what that would mean. Loving this possible baby to be. I often rub my belly and leave my hand there, subconsciously  trying to transport the love in my heart to my womb. Please be in there, I plead. And with a trip to the bathroom and a three minute wait, it’s all over. 

My mom often tells me that after her brother had a baby, she got the baby bug in an intense way. I just had to have you, she’s told me, gushing, giving me hugs. Less than a year later, her wish came true, and I was born.

Imagine that feeling, I said to her, that longing, that feeling that if you didn’t have a baby now, you would explode. Now picture almost two years and two miscarriages later, with no baby or pregnancy to show for it….That is what I’m going through.  That is what I’m experiencing.

Miscarriage stains everything around you. It spoils the joyful path to pregnancy. It leaves you unable to feel happiness for friends you love who have growing bellies. It causes you pain when you hold someone else’s baby in your arms. It even takes a silly show, like Live with Kelly and Michael, and taints it with its loaded association. Bringing you to that place…where pain still lives but yet you’re hopeful. Hopeful and damaged.

very inspiring blogger award

20140726-very-inspirational-blogger-award

I am truly honored to be nominated by My Perfect Breakdown and F*%k Infertility for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. I have tremendous admiration for these two bloggers and am continually inspired by their raw, courageous, and honest accounts of their difficult journeys. I felt quite touched when I first saw my name on My Perfect Breakdown’s post. To be nominated a second time by F*%k Infertility warms my little heart.

(Since writing this post I’ve also been recognized by City Life/Farm Wife, The Cat BedFinding Hope After a Miscarriage, and Hope Anchors the Soul – thank you, thank you!)

I learned of these nominations shortly after getting a negative on that wretched pee stick, the first failed cycle after our last miscarriage. I was in the midst of a very difficult moment; a moment when I suddenly felt the weight of this entire 18 month journey come crashing down around me. A moment when I felt deeply every sting, every loss, every bit of crushed hope, every thud in my gut, every moment of searing jealousy, and every crazy-making moment the constant waiting and uncertainty has caused in the past year and a half. I could feel all of it, all at once. I felt overwhelmed by its magnitude, and by how much energy and stamina it takes to manage emotions that are by definition so untamed. I didn’t feel like I could make it through the day, let alone continue this conception journey. I certainly didn’t feel inspirational.

But receiving these nominations lifted me. And I realized, this is how we inspire each other. The constant support of a genuinely empathetic community. And we watch each other keep going, and we cheer. Despite feeling some of the most intensely crushing emotions, we continue, we keep hope. I know so many of my readers and fellow bloggers have suffered far longer than I have. You’ve lived through more losses, and survived the extreme disappointments of failed IVF and IUI cycles. And no matter what your journey has been, you inspire me. You have given me the strength to continue, and the courage to take a hundred leaps of faith. I see how you all hurt, and how much you struggle while managing the hardest emotions.  But you persevere. And along the way, you find joy and take the time to celebrate the small things in life. You stop to offer support, encouragement and love to others. You are a life boat to so many of us struggling. And I see so many of you make it to the other side, and it gives me hope.

With that I’d like to share my list of nominees for this award. I know many of you have already been recognized, but I’d like to underscore how deeply valued you are, and how much you have truly helped me. Thank you.

Bloomingspiders

Laughter Through Tears

The Cat Bed

My MMC Story

Unicorns and Baby Dust

Preggo My Eggo

My Hope Jar

Dear Noah

Infertile is the New Black

When Dreams Become Rainbows

Pregnancy Pause

Waiting for Baby Bird

A Calm Persistance

Look for Rainbows

The Way I’m Making Sense of Miscarriage

To accept this award, here are the things you need to do:

1. Thank and link the amazing person(s) who nominated you.

2. List the rules and display the award.

3. Share seven fun facts about yourself.

4. Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.

5.  Optional: Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

Seven Fun Facts About Me:

1. When I was in first grade, I attended a private elementary school in New Hampshire and was the only girl in my class. I have no idea how that happens, but I was desperate for girl friends and was thrilled the next year when three other girls joined my class!

2. I am happiest when I’m creating or working with my hands. Ever since I was young, I could spend hours drawing, building, painting, knitting, decorating, and anything on crafty. I also love ceramics and throwing on a potter’s wheel and have also taken a handful of photography classes.

3. One of my favorite experiences in my whole life was the trip my husband and I took to Morocco, when we rode camels through the Sahara dessert and slept in a tent under the stars. We woke up early the next morning to climb the dunes and watch the sunrise. A truly magical experience.

4. My husband and I got married in the mountains of central Mexico in a town called San Miguel de Allende. Fifty of our closest friends and family traveled with us to watch us get married.

5. I grew up 25 miles away from my husband in Massachusetts, moved to NYC at the same time he did, and worked at the same company as him for three years before we actually met.

6. When my husband was in business school, I joined a boxing club to get in shape for our wedding. Boxing and kickboxing have always been my favorite forms of exercise.

7.  When I was a little girl I was obsessed with cats (I’m now horribly allergic to them). I had three and named them Anastasia Bumble Bee, Jillian, and Whitey.