I love the renovation shows on HGTV. I love seeing the process and the big reveal. I like demolition day when they get out the sledgehammers, destroy walls and rip down everything to expose the studs and foundation. I like to see the homeowners’ reactions when they realize that there are more problems under the walls than they originally anticipated and it is going to take longer to complete and more money. That is when things get interesting.
That is exactly what has happened to me in my forties. I have been under a renovation. It is one that I did not ask for but was thrown into. I am trying to swim instead of sink. I usually write once I have things figured out but I do not have it figured out right now and that is okay.
My dad died at the time we were trying to figure out what was wrong with John. At the time, John could barely stand up and his sight was questionable. At the time, I went into auto pilot. I took care of John and the girls. I worked. I worried. I did the next thing in a fog. I felt like I was climbing a gravel mountain trying to gain my footing but sliding down more than I climbed. People would see us and comment, “Wow. You are so strong.” They had no idea.
I thought I knew what grief was but little did I know. When the doctor told us that the blood clots would never go away and we would need to deal with this the rest of our lives, I got mad. Adding to the fact that I never grieved my father, the walls began to fall down.
One day, I stopped the fake smile, looked up and said, “I can’t do this anymore.” I wasn’t fine. I wasn’t strong. I wasn’t anything but pissed and it SCARED me. The intensity of the anger consumed me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I was mad at the big things and the little things. I was mad that people would say, “He looks so good, so glad he is doing better.” I wanted to scream, “No, this sucks. It is hard. Just because someone looks good doesn’t mean s**t!” I would see older men with suspenders like my dad and cry. My heart hurt so much because it was broken. I felt like I lost my two favorite men.
Anger has a way of consuming you and when not expressed and dealt with appropriately can take hold of your heart. Also, the good girl in me tells myself, “You shouldn’t be angry. This is wrong. Get it together.” Heaven forbid I feel any emotion. That is a lie that many people believe and I refuse to act on anymore.
Just like the exposed wood and wires in a wall, our emotions can look very ugly. The surges of anger are real. How I deal with the anger is the most important. I went to counseling. I also have a handful of friends that I confide in that I call “Friends In a Pocket”. They do not judge. They listen. They let me vent and help me find the good in the anger most of the times through laughter. I also stay away from people if I can. It is not their fault and when I am out in public, I do not say much. It is better that way.
I have found an outlet for my anger. For me, it is lifting heavy weight. I mean REALLY heavy weight. I take my anger out on a barbell. I push through the heaviness to rise up and that illustrates the reality of the messy process of grieving. Once the anger is felt and processed it reveals what is really there….a deep and profound sadness.
Anger is sad’s bodyguard.
There is something happens when your raw emotions are exposed. A raw vulnerability is revealed and something deep inside you changes and you will never be the same. Death, sickness, divorce, or friendships that brought about great love when gone will leave a huge hole that will forever change you. This change reveals true friendship, true character, and flaws that need to be worked on within yourself.
Anger gives you energy. Sadness depletes you. Anger helps you to get things done. Sadness makes you want to stay in bed. Anger pushes you through. Sadness helps you retreat. Both emotions are needed and necessary to grieve what once was and what may never be again. Anger and sadness are part of the process.
As Christians, we feel that these feelings are something we should not feel. However, I have learned that they are necessary and crucial to navigating the fallen world we live in. I find myself drawn to the book of Psalms. The book in the middle of the Bible that truly expresses the groans and pains of humanity. It also expresses the worship and gratitude. The psalmists expressed every emotion and did not mince their words. I love how those confessions brought forth a deeper relationship with God. Feeling pain is part of the journey and helps us appreciate the rise from struggle when it happens.
Life is filled with doubts, fears, angst, and despair. Life is also filled with joy, hope, perseverance, and celebration. Anger helps me persevere. Anger helps me process my sadness. Anger helps me grieve.
I am not ready for the great reveal. My walls and studs are still exposed right now. This remodeling project of myself is a bigger project than I realized. I do not have a timeline of completion and I never will. I will be taking the time to fix and mend the broken parts during this renovation so that my foundation is stronger than before. My anger is the sledgehammer that reveals the deeper emotions of love that has been lost, changed, and renewed. God often goes underground to grow us. I need to remember the work God has already done in me. I need to trust His faithfulness and accept the beauty of the process. I readily admit that I am a work in progress. I also realize that sometimes life is worth groaning about and I must be patient as I look for the fresh reserve to be able to paint beauty with the ashes again.