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Tue, Apr. 23rd, 2013, 09:24 am
Exploring Anger and The Power of Choice

Tomorrow is going to be a little different. Lately I've been 'exploring my anger' as I call it, and I'm going to start up something called "Whining Wednesdays" where I (and others) get to voice my aggravations. The caveat? One must also channel that anger in a meaningful direction. Anger with Purpose.

A wise revelation this morning (before my coffee even): The people who are always telling you to 'choose happiness' say it as if it isn't a choice. They don't even respect that it is your right to make it as a choice. How can you choose to be happy if, according to them, happiness is the only 'correct' choice to be made? Yes, I do feel better when I choose to be happy, when I choose to be grateful, or compassionate, but this only works when it IS a choice, when the alternative is a viable and legitimate option. When I accept that it is alright to be sad, indifferent, angry, or depressed. At the very least, they should rephrase it from an order to an idea, "You can choose happiness" although it doesn't apply to everyone.

I was born depressed; it's a chemical thing. I'd never been or understood happiness until just recently. But people assumed I'd made some sort of conscious decision to be unhappy. I felt ashamed, as if something were wrong with me, because I'd never been anything other than miserable. I wasn't choosing it, that's how I was born. Having people make me feel somehow ashamed and less of a person because I couldn't stop being depressed, as if somehow this was an act of willpower and I was weak, didn't help me; it hurt me. I felt like people were telling me not to be colorblind, or deaf. Now I see that being depressed was an 'okay' state for me, it wasn't a great place to be in, and certainly I am glad I have medication which can make me feel better, but there is nothing 'wrong' with me being depressed. Feelings are not 'wrong' or 'right'. I am not a bad person because of it. I can believe that there is nothing wrong with my natural state and still want to feel something better than depression.

When you get any chronic illness, suddenly you have to become this cheerful menace. The compulsion is to be upbeat and strong, to always be working toward something, to always have hope. Some people skip the first step, which is the wounded and hurting part. Luckily I didn't. I spent two years slogging through the most angry depression since my teen years. I really was ready to end it all. And then I got better. And since I've been a trauma survivor, I'm seeing how this illness mirrors my trauma past. I'm seeing the stages of it, and how you mentally heal, and how important it is to go through the stage of being a hurt, angry victim. It's an important stage of healing.

Even though I did it, some part of me at the time still thought it was wrong. I still believed that somehow I was weak for feeling depressed, for feeling angry. Other people got sick and still managed to muddle through life and work and family, why couldn't I? They even managed to some cheerfulness (even if only pretend), and a hopeful attitude, so what was wrong with me? So even though I'm past the stage where I feel I need to be angry or depressed, I'm going back and exploring those emotions anyway, only now with the assumption that there isn't anything wrong with me. That anger and depression are acceptable, even desirable, first responses to trauma. If I cultivate the bone-deep belief that all emotions are valid and that none of them make you weak or bad or wrong, that no emotions are negative or positive (they can result in negative or positive actions, but they are not themselves negative or positive), that even emotions that hurt can also be healing, how does that affect who I am? This is a chance for me to grow and grow and grow.

Illness is not a gift. It never is. I hate it when people say dumb shit like this (and the fact that I'm cursing on a post shows just how angry I am, I rarely put foul words to print). It can be a learning experience, but so can anything. A situation can be positive and still be a learning experience, it doesn't have to be negative, although negative things tend to hammer home the lessons if we don't learn them the easy way. Having fibro sucks, there is nothing good about it, about any of it. Just because I can do something good with it, does not make it good. But again, that's a choice, and I think we would all be better people if we respect everyone else's right to make their own choices, even the ones we don't like.

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