“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned”
When you are in a very stressful situation that you feel you have no control over anger is often the over-riding emotion because it gives the illusion of control. Anger requires a target and, unfortunately, because we humans are contrary in nature, it’s often not the root cause of the anger that becomes its focus.
When my husband was terminally ill I had a couple of conversations with one of his siblings who was living abroad at the time. He kept asking ‘should I come home, is it time?’ We had the same conversation at the hospital one afternoon. That morning the doctors had spoken to me about signing a ‘do not resuscitate’ form, a nurse who could barely speak English had become confused about doseage and almost administered a lethal amount of morphine to my husband and I was watching him slowly fade away, in great pain, before my eyes.
When I answered the phone to my brother-in-law he again questioned whether or not he should come back to the UK. I could feel the anger bubbling up in my throat and my eyes filling with tears of frustration,
“It’s your decision and I can’t make it for you”
“But how long do you think he’s got?”
“Really I don’t know; I can’t tell you that”
“It’s just that my car needs some work and plane tickets are not cheap you know”
At this point I lost my temper. I knew that he was not hard up and he knew that his brother was dying but he was whingeing about his car and a couple of hundred quid??? It was his chance to say goodbye FFS!!!??? WTF???
I realise now that maybe my husband’s brother was dealing with things in the only way he knew how – by focusing on the unimportant so that the important doesn’t become overwhelming. I also realise that, although his insensitive comments had pissed me off, they weren’t the root cause of my anger – that was directed at the universe which had decided that the love of my life was going to be taken away from me. Unfortunately you can’t rail at the universe and, even if you could, I’m fairly sure you wouldn’t get much of a response so I used the first target that presented itself.
The brother in question didn’t come back to the UK for my husband’s funeral and many in the family were extremely angry with him, myself included. However, I’ve learned to let go of anger now because I know it doesn’t change anything and because burns from hot coals really bloody hurt………