July 16, 2020
Releasing Anger and Embracing Acceptance
When The Lights Go Out
One of the hardest things for me to do as a mama was to accept that I would never hold my child again in this life. I would never hear his laughter again. I would never mediate between two brothers again. I'd never hear the words "I love you, Mama" from Andrew again. For a while... a long long while... I could not accept this. I didn't want to accept this. It was not fair, and in my mind, I had done nothing to deserve this.
Before long, I found myself angry. Angry at God... Angry at Ray... Angry at myself... Angry at the man responsible for my pain... Then I became angry at others... those who were selfish... those who did not care enough about their children... those who did not treat their children the way I thought they should... And so much more anger... It did not happen immediately for me. It took awhile for the anger to take over, but eventually it did.
Piece-by-piece, I had to learn to let my anger go. God reminded me of myself daily. See... before Andrew's death, I was as careless as those with whom I loathed. Before his death, I didn't think about the possibility of living my life without him. Now I somehow thought I had the right to shame the rest of the world. I realized soon if I didn't get a hold of my anger, that would destroy me, my family, and my friendships.
So I made a personal choice, thanks to the advice of a friend, Sherry Norris Miller, to go see a counselor. I sat down in the session, and the first thing that went to my mind, "Dear Lord, I'm having to see a shrink." But the counselor/psychologist was extremely sweet, but firm. In 45 minutes, she diagnosed me as "co-dependent." And I left with the titles of 3 books she wanted me to read.
I thought, "I love to read. This is going to be easy." Ray ordered the books for me. They were "Co-dependent No More" by Melody Beattie, "Healing the Shame that Binds You," by John Bradshaw, and "Happiness is a Choice," by Frank Minirth & Paul Meier. I went to see the counselor one more time... then I had to see the "real shrink" as part of their protocol (in case I needed any medication). I remember sitting in the chair with him looking at me intently. Finally he asked, "Mrs. Odom, what are you doing here?"
I thought about his question. I was there because my family and friends thought I needed to be there. I was there because I was angry. But I wasn't there because I needed to be. I told him that. He looked at me and said, "Mrs. Odom, you know what you need to do. I can see that in you. There's nothing we can tell you or do for you to make you better. The decision is yours. Find your outlet, and heal."
I was never so thankful to be dismissed in my life. But I went out from there stronger. I knew I did know what to do with my life, and I did just that. First, I read the books. Thought about what they each were saying to me. Then I distributed them to three other people: one dealing with anger, one dealing with a husband who drank too much, and one who was just very unhappy with life. As I gave each person the book, I felt better. I was helping someone else.
I started on my journey to self recovery and self discovery. My psychiatrist was right. I did know what I needed to do. I've never looked back. I have ups and downs. (Trust me. COVID-19 has put me in a bad place with anxiety.) But I know what I need to do. Just this morning, I got on the scales... and I said to myself, "ENOUGH! This is the peak... You will get yourself back in your gym. You will stop this spiral downward." And that is exactly what I plan to do.
Recovery is a personal journey. It's hard. There are times and triggers that send you downward again. I know them all too well. But every time I have spiraled... I did it. Every time I have recovered... I did it. I cannot get others to do it for me. It must be my personal choice to recover. I often think of David and Ziklag. The men of his company were ready to kill him. They had lost their camp, their wives, and their children. David himself was distraught. But in his little tent, David made up his mind. His encouragement came from God, and the message was "you will recover all."
David knew who to ask for help. David went straight to the source of his strength. David enquired of God. God told him to "Pursue... You will recover all!" You might say, "Yeah, but you will never have Andrew back." Ahh... but I beg to differ with you. Andrew is safely deposited in Heaven. I will have him back. And until then, I will pursue life and recover.
But in this pursuit... I have learned a valuable lesson... I cannot hold on to anger and expect to recover. Anger is a dangerous emotion that must not be left unchecked. Forgiveness is the great neutralizer of anger. Each time I think of anger, I force myself to consider forgiveness. Each day brings a new set of challenges... possibilities that I will either spiral downward or ascend upward. But ultimately the choice is mine and mine alone.
My advice for the person dealing with anger today:
1. Admit you are angry. Don't pretend it's something else. Admittance is the first step in recovery. Just say it and say it outloud, "I AM ANGRY!" There... see... you feel better already.
2. Find an outlet for your anger. For me, it's exercise, it's music, it's exploration, it's grandchildren, and I think it might be pottery making. (I'll have to wait and see on the last one.)
3. Forgive... Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Forgive the wrong that has been done to you. What a release! Do the people who hurt you deserve your forgiveness? Maybe, or maybe not... But that's not the issue. You deserve the forgiveness because of the healing it will bring to you.
4. Live! And I cannot say this enough. Put into perspective your loss, but also what you will gain by moving forward. Yes, it's hard. But yes... you need to do it!
Once I let go of my anger, I was able to sing this old hymn...
Far away in the depths of my spirit tonight
Rolls a melody sweeter than psalm;
In celestial strains it unceasingly falls
O'er my soul like an infinite calm.
Peace, peace, wonderful peace,
Coming down from the Father above!
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray
In fathomless billows of love!
Much love and peace to you all!
To Be Continued!