A is for Anger, B is for Beginning

I'm not an angry person. I don't like fighting, I shy away from conflict, and even my constructive criticism is coated in several layers of kindness. But since Ken's diagnosis, that's changed. They say the second stage of grief is anger, and it seems to be true for me.

Suddenly, I have a bitter streak.

Someone does something to offend or irritate me; I seethe. A friend says a few well-intentioned but unhelpful words, and I snap at them. I lie awake at night, burning over the small injustices of my day. Worst of all, in some way, I enjoy it. After years of being the “good girl” who only spoke in kindness, I take pleasure in this new edge. It feels like indulgence.

I know the anger isn't truly directed towards the people in my life. It's directed at the MS, at the world, at fate and time and whatever else I can blame for this. About a month ago, just a few weeks after Ken's diagnosis, I was sitting in my pastor's office, talking about it all through my tears.

“I'm not mad at God,” I said. I believed it. My pastor asked why I wasn't angry. I responded with a quick statement about omnipotence and love; I didn't feel God was responsible for this. A few days later, I came back to school and avoided faith services, knowing that they would be filled with well-meaning peers who had been praying for Ken and me. I had a hard time praying, myself. I didn't think about it too much.

I wasn't angry at God. I was just busy.

Within a few weeks, the anger stopped being exciting. It didn't feel like an indulgence anymore. Instead, it started to feel like something that was actually a part of me. I didn't like how exhausting it was to carry the hurt. I didn't like how I thought or spoke. I didn't like who I was becoming. But I didn't know how to let go and move on.

DSC_0169

Then, last night, I lay in bed watching a short video. The video, which was part of a Bible study, was about behaving in a way that reflected God's love in the world. “With God's love, in God's love, and reflecting God's love,” was the phrase that kept cropping up. I thought about how my behavior matched up to that standard. Long story short: it didn't, at all. Since Ken's diagnosis, I hadn't been thinking, acting, or showing love to the outside world. I had been quick to do anything but.

So I did something I hadn't done in weeks. I prayed. Really, truly not a sideways prayer, muttered under my breath before falling asleep, but the kind of prayer that comes from a place so deep that it's hard to breathe. I asked to be let go of the anger that I felt towards so the people in my life; the friend who said this “freaked her out,” the one who said Ken should just try acupuncture, the ones who brought up Jed Bartlet (“It can't be that bad the guy from the West Wing had it!”). And in that moment, I realized I wasn't angry at them. I was angry at God, after all.

I was angry at God for doing this, for giving Ken an illness that we already had too much experience with. I was angry for the stress and the pain and the grief that this had all caused. I was angry about the uncertainty of our future, about the questions that ran through my head (What if he can't walk on our wedding day? What if he can't play with our children?). I stuttered, mid-prayer. Maybe I wasn't ready to let go yet.

But the thing is, the anger and resentment hurts us most. When we don't think, act, and show love in our lives, we are among those who suffer. I wasn't punishing God with my fury. I was punishing myself, and making however much time Ken and I have together on this earth that much harder.

So I let go. I asked for a new beginning. A clean heart, if you will.

I said the prayer on Valentine's Day, just a few minutes before falling asleep. At that moment, Ken was on the returning flight from a trip to California, to pack up his apartment so he could move home because of the illness. It was our fourth Valentine's Day apart. And the last. Because this thing won't beat us.

Love wins.

DSC_8521

Author: Sara Laughed

I'm Sara, a writer, recent grad, and American abroad. I graduated from college in December and promptly moved to the Netherlands, where I live with my boyfriend and our 11 plants. Follow along as I figure out my roaring twenties: I don't quite know what I'm doing, but that's not stopping me from writing about it!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Your story is heartbreaking but I love that you are writing your feelings down and putting them out there. I know these posts are helping someone somewhere. I admire you both and know you will make it out on top. I agree, love always wins. XO

  • This is so well said and very relatable! Give yourself grace – when going through something this hard, there is no question you’ll have times you may shy away from God or from others, but it will pass. Glad to see you’re counting this as a new beginning!!

  • Oh, Sara. I am so sorry for everything that you and Ken are going through right now. I know that ignorant and flat out rude comments from people don’t help. When I was diagnosed with cancer, I was so bitter and so full of hate. I radiated bad vibes and negative energy. But I realized really quickly that the only way that things would get better was if I decided to be optimistic. It sounds like you made the same choice 🙂 Things will get better and having a positive outlook and strong faith makes it a little easier. I’m here if you need anything, and I’ll be praying for y’all!

    XO, SS || Seersucker Sass

    • I had no idea you had survived cancer – thank you for sharing your story. I’m so glad you got through with optimism and strength. I hope Ken can get through his trial as well. Thanks for your always thoughtful comments. You rock.

  • This is beautifully said. I am so sorry for everything that you are going through but I know that through prayer, love and strength, you can keep going and fight it. I know how overwhelming anger can be. For a while, I was angry at God, my friends, and everyone in my life for no reason. The anger took over me and I was no longer myself. It’s hard to let go and let God, but once you do, everything gets just a little bit easier. <3
    xo
    Lauren

    The Fashionista’s Diary

  • Such a beautifully written post with a powerful message. Thank you so much for sharing your journey and faith! Sending lots of warm wishes and prayers your way, sweet girl!

  • What a powerful post. I’m sorry that you’ve been experiencing so much anger – I’ve been there to. It will pass and open up a new door to something great.

  • I think it is amazing you were able to share some of your most vulnerable emotions. I think it is only natural you would feel angry to see someone you love suffer, but you’re right love wins over anger!

  • So sorry to hear about your struggles, I can’t even imagine how hard it must be to have a partner diagnosed with something serious and life changing. My heart goes out to you both and I hope Ken is able to find treatment to keep him in remission/symptom-free.

  • Thank you for being so vulnerable. We all experience anger, but are often too afraid to share. Keep feeling what you’re feeling and trusting that God’s character does not depend on how you feel about him or towards him.

  • Anger is something that really makes you understand things at times, it has a funny way of doing things, but it really makes you take a look at what you’re really feeling. I wish you and Ken the best of luck through these hard times.

  • I’m always amazed at how you can tell your story of how you’re overcoming struggles in such a humble way that can really touch us who are reading it. Thank you for sharing what you’re going through, Sara–your honesty is an amazing testimony.