The Anger Phase

I can’t depend on people or expect anything from them.  I have to do this on my own.

My life is a gaping pit that can’t possibly be filled or soothed right now.  I can’t put that burden on other people, it’s too much.  They can’t do it, they have their own lives, and my needs are immense.

And besides, they aren’t even trying. 

The accident was riveting, I get that.  We were flooded, overwhelmed with support and interest.  And it disappeared after the funeral, as if everyone was annoyed that we didn’t serve a buffet for all of their efforts.  So, silence.  Nothing.  Did they care?  Probably a lot of them did, and they certainly were horrified and shocked.  They can’t imagine.  They are thankful that it isn’t them, naturally.  But frightened that it happened so close to them. 

I see people startle when they see me, and then hastily busy themselves with something so they can pretend they didn’t notice me.  Honestly, that’s one of my preferred responses.  It stings, yes, but maybe we are both relieved to avoid speaking with each other.  The worst are the people who see me and pour out their anxiety and guilt on me.  “I’m so sorry I haven’t called…I don’t know what to say…lets get coffee…we’re busy this week with gymnastics and travel soccer, but I’ll call you next week.”  And we both walk away knowing they will never call.  It was their anxiety talking.  It becomes my job to soothe them, assure them that it’s OK, no one else knows what to say either.  I hold them up.  It’s exhausting, and feels like crap when they make promises that they don’t keep. 

And then others are genuine, but they choose the wrong time.  They wait until they see me somewhere.  I show my face in public because I have to, not because I’m looking for conversation.  I don’t want to cry in the school lobby when I’m trying to pick up the kids, and if I’m buying groceries then I’m doing my best to make it back to my car before I lose it.  If you haven’t spoken a word to me in 2 months, don’t attempt a deep conversation in the grocery store.  It’s not the place. 

So I hide, put off obligations as long as I can, and rush through any task that takes me out of the privacy of my home.  And I weep when I get back, because of the pain of dealing with so many misguided people. 

But at home, there is silence.  I can go two weeks without an email or phone call.  After so much attention, no one seems to care.  And I’m angry, angry that everyone is failing me so badly when I need it the most.  Angry if I get on Facebook and see the trivial things that they use to fill their day, instead of taking 30 seconds to send me an email.  Angry that people who said they would be there for us are nowhere to be found.  Angry that people say things like, “We want to support you but we never see you.”  Showing my face in public might make everyone else feel better, but it is in no way helping us.   

I don’t want to be angry, so I need to lower my expectations.  If I expect nothing of others, I won’t be disappointed.  I can do this on my own.  I have no need of friendship, friendship causes pain.  I am a rock, I am an island.  But how to do this with strength instead of despair? 

No Win Situation

I don’t blame people for staying away.  I’m impossible.  If someone talks with me, asks me how I’m doing, I’m angry.  What an awful question, how do they think I’m doing?  But if they don’t say anything, I’m angry too.  Don’t they know how overwhelming this is, and that I need support? 

I’ve made it impossible for anyone to win.

And so I’m angry at myself too, for setting up this ridiculous situation.

Alone

Our community extended generous (and I mean generous!) support to us after the accident.  Hundreds prayed for us.  Maybe more.  The kid’s school, our friends and neighbors, our church, and many strangers surrounded us and gave gifts, brought meals, visited, sent cards, and loved.  They sacrificed.  We’ve never experienced anything like it.  It blew us away, and we are grateful. 

And then, as they should, they had to return to their own lives. 

I understand this.  And yet, in my pain and in the long days I sit alone, I’m angry.  Angry at the people who have sacrificed for us.  And I’m ashamed that my loneliness is demanding and selfish.

Our friends don’t know what to say to us.  I’m sure people are afraid to intrude, so they give us space.  That space wraps around us like an unbreachable void, isolating us.  Sometimes we try to reach out and share what we’re going through, but it’s so heavy.  It feels burdensome to put that one anyone, especially if they aren’t asking for it.   I don’t know who is willing and able to listen, and who needs to distance themselves for their own survival.  I err on the side of caution, and keep our sorrows to myself.  Everyone else errs on the side of caution too, not wanting to bother us. 

And so we are alone.