Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Fighting with Anger

I haven't written in a long time because I've been tired.


I was angry for a long time.  I was angry that I was carrying all the weight in my family.  I was angry at God for not giving me the grace to keep doing it (or that I was just too stupid to find His grace.)  I was angry that I was so tired and that I had to keep running all the time, from one appointment to another, to work and then back, etc.

I went to see my therapist at the beginning of February.  I went a few times and then stopped because I just didn't have the time or energy to keep going.  I had just started back to therapy after taking over a year off due to caring for Al after his stroke.  I told my therapist about being exhausted and angry.  I just wanted her to say, "OK, you can't handle it.  I'll write you a prescription that says you can take the rest of your life off of work and any other annoying responsibilities."  But she didn't.  She's not an MD, and she knew that I had to figure out to handle it all, or most of it anyway.  I couldn't just abandon my family, as much as I wished I could hire a mom to do all the dirty work of parenting and I could just enjoy my children.

 First of all, she asked me why I was so angry.  I was angry because I felt like my husband had more ability to help me than he would actually offer  (which was probably not a realistic assumption, but it was still a strong "feeling").  So, she suggested that I accept the fact that I was a single parent, temporarily.  I'm not "really" a single parent, but I had been doing all of the things that a single parent would do.  So, what if I just had the expectation that I would have to act like a single parent for a while?  I would be free from the anger of expecting that my husband could do everything he once did.

She also said that I need to lower my expectations - or at least tailor them to what's realistic for my life.  Maybe we didn't have dinner together at the table every night, and maybe I didn't "cook" every night.  The truth is that's what happened most nights anyway - we ended up eating something very simple, and we hardly sat together at the table.  But if my expectation wast that it wasn't going to happen, then I wouldn't be disappointed about it.

It's hard to wrap my mind around lowering my expectations.  I'm a perfectionist - high expectations is what I do!!! I guess that giving myself some slack for family meals is OK, but it's actually much harder to let go of my expectations for house cleanliness.  I really don't want to live in a pig-sty, but I do most of the time, so it would be helpful if I expected the house to be less clean.  Maybe I should re-phrase that:  I have to let myself be OK with a mess in the house. . . .most of the time. . .

The good news is this:  after spring break (this week), I will be moving to a part-time job at my school.  After asking my boss at the beginning of February if my job could become a job-share situation (to which he said no), he offered me the opportunity of becoming the part-time librarian at the school.  We haven't had a librarian since the school opened in 2009, and the teacher who was running the library simply couldn't do it, having to teach classes all day and all.

I will work 18-20 hours in a quiet (hopefully) environment and still have the opportunity to pick up hours by subbing in the front office if need be.  I've never been so thankful for the prospect of earning less money.

Now that I'm relaxing in the Great White North of Michigan (although thankfully it's not really white), I can take some time to catch up on all our therapy - my husband's excruciatingly slow stroke recovery and then some.


  1. Jen, you might want to read Ambiguous Loss by Pauline Voss or When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner

  2. Hmm, "Ambiguous Loss" sounds intriguing. I will have to look for it. Thanks!