I Get Mad When I’m Sad

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Somewhere between hurt and happy is healing.       ~A. O. Sullivan

One thing you learn growing up in an alcoholic home is how to cover up grief with anger. It’s a very handy trick. Grief makes you feel vulnerable, and it’s not okay to feel vulnerable. Anger serves as a good cover up. Blame works well too.

The grief can be ancient, from past generations even. No one may be able to connect the dots anymore. All that’s left is the anger. I could feel the depth of sadness and loss in my parents, but that’s the other thing you learn – don’t talk about it. I see it all the time in couples who fight. Fighting is often just a reaction to the threat or fear of loss of love.

The other night, I found myself in a sleepless state with a whole laundry list of complaints going through my head. Nothing was right!

It reminded me of a Thanksgiving a few years back when one young member of the family, whose parents were going through a divorce, declared, “I’m not thankful for anything!” when it was her turn to share around the dining table. We all got a chuckle out of it, but in retrospect I think it was a grief reaction.

When I finally gained some perspective amidst the tossing and turning, I remembered that there had been a recent death in the family. It took awhile, but soon I was able to just watch as the little kid in me had a tantrum about it.

This poem came out of that experience.

I Get Mad When I’m Sad

We have fleas. I hurt my knees. I’m neurotic as hell. My nose runs, and my feet smell. I gained weight on my diet. I’m sure you’re dying to try it.

I tell everyone what to do. What’s wrong with you? I’m really good at correcting and pointing out mistakes. What were you thinking, for goodness sakes?

With an air of superiority, I cover up my own, push them into the “under the rug” zone. I’m getting lazier as we speak. I’d do more but my energy level’s bleak.

I’m jealous and angry half the time. Penis envy.…Why don’t I have mine?

My husband said, “You need some humor, honey.” I hit my funny bone, and that wasn’t so funny.

Life is a beach I can’t seem to reach. Something is missing….

Oh, yeah. Someone is missing. We’ve had a death in the family.

But I don’t have time for grieving.

There’s a death in the family. I’m having a hard time believing.

I get mad when I’m sad.