Monday, July 21, 2014
Dredging Up Anger, Part 1
“It’s a good thing they closed the coffin or I would have socked him one,” said my older son after Noah’s funeral. I couldn’t blame him for being angry. All this time, I’ve been acknowledging anger as natural but not letting myself fully feel it. Anger at Noah, that is.
It’s been much easier to fume at other people and things. I hate suicide and people who romanticize it. I hate rope and knots and how simple it is to end a life. I hate the gruesome suicide of Noah’s good friend that set off his decline. I’m mad at relatives who didn’t or couldn’t speak openly with us about his death. I’m furious at psychiatry for its primitive understanding and treatment of mental illness and suicide risk. Why did it take decades and more than 1,500 suicides to finally (this year) approve protective barriers at the Golden Gate Bridge? Suicide survivors often share and commiserate about these frustrations, tiptoeing around the real source of anger.
I hate having my life hijacked by this nightmare. But how can I be angry at a child who was in desperate pain and not thinking clearly? If he was ill, how can I blame him? How can I rage when he’s dead and gone, and no fuming will make things right? Anger gets quashed and tamped down by these rational thoughts and the need for compassion. It dissolves almost instantly into tears of frustration and grief. Why can’t I own and express my anger? As the old Leonard Cohen song says, “It begins with your family and later comes round to your soul.” Anger seems lodged deep inside, stuck in the muck of this loss. It blocks my way forward, especially toward forgiveness. I have to dredge it up and chip away at it, but how?
I try reciting rage directly to Noah, spitting and cursing into the wind as I take a walk:
How COULD you? How DARE you throw your life away and hurt us all so much?
You stupid, stupid boy. You did a horrible, brutal, senseless, unnecessary thing that can NEVER be undone. You didn’t give yourself a chance.
You BETRAYED us. While we were trying to help, you were planning this.
I gave you everything I had as a mother and you give me THIS? You thought I was strong and I could bear it? THANKS A LOT!! I can’t believe you left without a goodbye or sign of love. I can’t believe there’s no more chance for reconciliation.
Game OVER. Only it wasn’t a game and it’s far from over for us. I am furious you are GONE forever and somehow I have to learn to live with you gone, my poor, sweet, stupid child.
This DIDN'T have to be.
These words are true but feel scripted and awkward, detached from my body. I am fluent in pain but how do I speak anger?
Maybe raging sorrow goes beyond words. Let it out, let it out.