Monday, September 10, 2007

burning bright

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction, says Blake in one of his proverbs of Hell. But I've resisted learning what anger teaches and most of its lessons elude me. Many bloggers who've suffered from infertility or who've had pregnancies end badly or babies die have written about the rage that colors their vision, and it seems, at least to me, that they see more clearly by its fierce light.

I've inventoried my own emotions, searching for a similar feeling, but if it's there, it's too well disguised to be recognizable. Or it's mutated into another shape, better adapted to my chilly emotional climate, in the same way that mammoths, stranded for generations on California's increasingly barren Channel Islands, dwindled until they were no larger than Clydesdales.

When I try to imagine myself angry, I have trouble finding a target. Other, more fortunate people? The gods? Fate? The doctors? Myself? That last one I might be able to manage. It's not quite anger, but I'm perfectly capable of berating myself for being naive enough to think that things might turn out the way I wanted them to, for not seeing clearly enough that everything might go terribly, irretrievably wrong. But I comfort myself with the knowledge that no matter what happens, no matter what shiny promises the future dangles, that's one mistake I'll never make again.

26 comments:

meg said...

I, too have trouble with anger, but that's because my overwhelming feeling is one of guilt. I don't blame anyone but myself, though I know rationally that it was not my fault.

As for the innocent belief that pregnancy ends with a live, healthy baby? That ship sailed for me, several pregnancies ago. I completely "get" not ever making that "mistake" again. But I don't know how much comfort that knowledge gives me. It just makes me in awe of anyone who thinks nothing can go wrong in pregnancy and it also leaves me jealous and bitter that some women never, ever even consider such a thing. I wish it was that way, for us all.

Beruriah said...

I have anger. Intensely. As you can see over and over again on my blog. Thing is, I have the anger first and then have to inventory my emotions to see if there's a target. There doesn't seem to need to be one - except for the situation itself. And the anger moves targets, but really it's source is the situation. I feel guilt, too, like Meg said, but then anger because really, am I that much worse than people who haven't suffered so much?

A Clydesdale is still pretty darn big.

furrow said...

I've read that it is physically healthier for women to express anger than to keep it bottled up. The exact opposite is true for men.

My brief stint through infertility didn't cause me nearly the suffering that you and many of your readers have endured, but I went ahead and lashed out instead. First at myself, but then mostly at God, whose existence I now seriously doubt. I'm not sure if it has been helpful or not. I still feel the whole that that anger created.

furrow said...

I meant "lashed out anyway" rather than "instead".

And I meant "hole" rather than "whole."

I wish one could edit comments. Or that I could get a brain transplant.

slouching mom said...

What about the concept of depression being no more than anger turned inward?

niobe said...

Furrow: I dunno. Maybe the anger was helpful and "whole" is the right word after all.

painted maypole said...

not everyone reacts the same It's no better or worse, i think.

niobe said...

Slouching Mom: Exactly. I was thinking that my anger changed shape and direction and ended up aimed at myself, whether as guilt or depression.

Yankee T said...

I cannot blame you for not allowing yourself to ever get comfortable with the idea that things may not turn out the way you wanted them to, but I hope with all that is in me, that this is what actually happens to you several times in your life, so that you can be wonderfully, happily blown away. ((Niobe))

Monica said...

I've got enough anger and jealousy to spare, so if you want some Niobe, I'll send some your way. In fact, one of my recent visitors came my way by searching, "jealousy after stillbirth". And they hit my blog on the first page... for more than one entry. I agree with the idea about depression being anger turned inward. I don't have as much depression because I like to blame others, hence more anger. And sometimes getting pissed off at people just feels good.

Suz said...

I've been wondering if infertility changed me, how much it influenced the person I am today and the answer, I believe is that it only intensified the person I was before infertility. I already was prone to anger. I already was wary, alert to danger, expecting and fearing the worst. I just became more those things due to infertility, and now, as I try to work with them, I find them super-sized. Easy to spot but hard to get rid of.

Sunny said...

I hate how the joy or hope or naivety has been stolen from anyone who has lost a child. IT SUCKS! We will never be the same.

My Reality said...

I don't see my situation in a fit or anger or rage, and I don't know why. I guess I have come to accept it for what it is.

I hope that the future dandles something bright and shiny for you, even if you don't expect it to happen that way.

Ms. Planner said...

Yours is a very powerful post Niobe. Your last sentence is the very fact that makes me want to eschew ART and move right to the adoption process.

Waiting Amy said...

It makes me so sad that we have all lost that sweetness of such a simple (?) thing. I feel like it robs us of joy in so many areas in our lives. Not only do we not believe that we can grow our family the way we want -- but it spills in to the rest of our lives. It feels like we can not believe that ANYTHING will work out how we want. Or at least that is how I feel so often.

I vacillate between anger and depression. I guess they really are the same thing.

Lori said...

I've never been very comfortable with anger. I have always said that was the one emotion that wasn't easily allowed in my childhood. We could be sad, disappointed, somewhat frustrated, melancholy, or even jealous. But anger, was usually promptly squashed.

For some reason, which I cannot explain, I felt much more anger after the death of my father than after the deaths of my twins. Maybe that was simply because it was the second loss of a hefty one-two punch though.

LeRoy Dissing said...

I think expressing one's anger in today's society is not kosher. It seems like anger should be shunned. Yet when anger is not expressed, it often turns inward becoming self-destructive. I think expressing one's anger appropriately is healthy. Yeah, we can be angry with ourselves but perhaps that has more to do with not expressing our anger toward others?

Eva said...

Your naïveté didn't make things go wrong, though. And being wiser and more dubious won't make them go wrong, either--or make things go right. I wish you well. I have this idea that as the gleam of a child gets closer and more real to you, as the weeks pass, as the necessity of getting ready starts becoming evident, you will become more and more delicately suffused with giddiness. Sure, it might be mostly overcome with totally reasonable gloom, but I bet there will be moments where you smile to yourself on the street.

Christine said...

your heart is so broken, niobe.

sadness and anger are created from the same thing--disappointment. you didn't deserve what happened. it probably doesn't mean much, as many have likely said it many times before. but there it is--the truth.

Julia said...

When my anger showed up, I was surprised by it. I didn't even understand what it was at first. It has subsided a lot since then. Like Beruriah's, my anger is not directed at people, most of the time. Sometimes it is, though. It's not like I have a guard house on the high road or anything.

missing_one said...

I don't feel angry anymore(at least not in a while it seems), but I did feel very angry...rage almost.
There was no real direction to it, I just felt.
It was a feeling that came over me and manifested by me getting mad at anything in my path...even though the anger itself seemed to not have a path or direction at all.

Aurelia said...

Anger can be productive, if channeled correctly, so it can be useful, if for nothing else, than to make our doctors a little less complacent, as we stick our big fat feet up their nasty lazy arses.

Of course, I could be too cynical...

Emily said...

I agree with Christine that anger and depression are born from disappointment...hope differed makes the heart sick.
I am most angry when I am broken, vulnerable. But if I can get outside of myself for a little bit, I think brokeness is the most fertile ground for change.
I am so sad for your heartache, Niobe. I am so sad for your loss.

Bon said...

i don't know that anger has ever made me see more clearly...or that my wrath and rage has necessarily brought me anything except much needed expression of, as Christine said, a disappointment that is so vast and sorrowful that even years on it is still occasionally triggered. so it does serve a purpose, but only as an outlet for the disappointment itself, for my grief. i am not sure it's necessary. normal...for many, yes. but i don't know that it is necessary to becoming whole in some way again...if such a thing happens. i think, more, that we simply become different.

i wonder what the connection is between the apparent absence of anger and your assumption that things will go wrong for you? i've seen you say, a few times, that you find a sort of comfort in that lack of expectation, and i can understand that. but i know my anger flares still whenever i encounter others' expectations that all will go RIGHT for them, their blitheness and their discourse of "oh, pregnancy is so hard but look at all the cute maternity clothes i bought" always make me feel so left out, so trampled on, so abnormal. but maybe that's because i still expect to be normal, somehow?

that can hardly be healthy, can it? seeing as norms are only illusions, or averages. :)

M said...

I also find it hard to lock my anger in on a target - so more often than not it ends up being myself.

Anonymous said...

...please where can I buy a unicorn?