Sunday, August 5, 2012

Spilled Anger

The Gator Aid bottle hit the left wheel of her wheel chair, spun around, hit the floor and rolled, depositing tiny drops of Gator Aid from the almost empty bottle on our wood floor.  I was irritated.

About an hour later she dropped the almost empty Diet Coke bottle she had been holding.  It bounced off her left foot, the straw ejecting like a rocket, spilling drops of Diet Coke across our rug.  I was more than irritated, I was angry and I barked, loudly and too long.

It was stupid, it was a stupid thing, a small, innocuous act and it made me mad and I reacted by chewing, chastising and generally ranting for too long.  Marty sat quietly and absorbed my tantrum and said nothing but, “I’m sorry.”  

About two hours later we sat in her bed, just hanging, watching television.  Three afternoons a week Marty and I are sans caregiver and we sit in her bed, watch “Ellen” and “Dr. Oz” and drink homemade strawberry smoothies.  Her cup has a lid and a straw.  I left the room and came back to see her with her cup on its side, the snug lid barely holding the smoothie at bay.  Mad…..again…..stupid stuff.

It’s completely pointless; it’s completely heartless to get angry at someone who is so broken, someone who for the most part wants nothing more than to please, someone who is incapable of barking back.  It’s embarrassing; it’s stupid to get angry over this kind of small stuff.  And after all is said and done, then, I get to feel guilty, as I should. 

Later that evening as I was preparing dinner Marty was sitting in her wheelchair watching my every slice and dice.  I get angry over stupid things, but I know how to apologize, I understand remorse.

I went over and hugged her, my face next to her cheek, “I’m sorry I acted like…”

“A jerk”, she interrupted.

“Yeah, it was stupid.”

She agreed.

“Do you know why I get angry like that?” I asked.

“Because I’m so dumb?”,   she answered with a question.

Okay, just stab me in the heart with a sharp spoon, except that I clearly don’t have a heart or I would never, ever do anything to make this woman say, “Because I’m so dumb”.

“You’re not dumb”, I said.  “You’re broken, you’re brain is broken, but you’re not dumb at all, I was dumb.  I got mad over something stupid.”

I have always spent too much karmic energy on the inconsequential and it still happens, regardless of how much I try to change.  It goes against my new mantra of wanting to simply cut people slack and let things go.  It really seems simple, just let some things pass, let the small stuff be exactly that, small stuff.  The problem is, the small stuff comes from big stuff.  

Through the years Marty has often been a catalyst for my anger, but not the responsible party, I have to own my stuff.  In the old days she would help me work through what made me mad, today, I’m pretty well left to my own sorry self analytical devices.

It mostly revolves around control, I find being in situations where I can’t control the flow and the outcome of things are ripe for frustration and anger.  Frustration with the nebulous aspects of life brings a swelling anger.  

I don’t mind cleaning up the spilled Gator Aid, it’s not that much trouble and the drinks in question were almost empty.   I mind what the dropped drinks represents, I mind that they are symbolic of Marty’s illness, I mind being reminded of our life situation in these subtle ways, I mind the illness, it pisses me off.

I have always fought anger when I’m afraid.  I remember the darkest times when I was afraid for Marty’s life and I felt totally and completely helpless.  I couldn’t make it better and no one else could make it better.  I’m a middle child; I’ve spent an entire life trying to make things better.

I remember standing beside Marty’s bed one particularly bad afternoon.  She was in the ICU and I was feeling my adrenalin on overdrive, feeling my blood rise to my head, feeling every nerve tingle.  I wanted to scream, the anger, the raw emotion was to explode into a mass of bone and blood.  

It wasn’t what anyone else was or wasn’t doing, it was me, it was my fear of the known and the unknown and I lay in wait for someone, anyone to screw something up so I could release the pent up anger in their direction.  When I’m afraid for Marty I badly want to take someone out, not in a good way.

Getting mad at spilled anything is stupid, I know it.  I also know it’s not the Gator Aid, it’s not the convoluted questions at the doctor’s office, it’s not the wait in line at Walgreen’s or the stupid web sites for the drugs.  It’s me, it’s my fight, it’s my fight against my nature and my fight against the strokes and what it does to our life.  

I know anger, well placed anger is part of life and not something to always try and avoid.  I want to get mad at the right things, the real things, the things worthy of that much energy and emotion, but I really hate it when it spills out at the wrong time, over the wrong reasons.  It gets my stuff on the wrong person.

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