Anger (pt. 1 of ???)

Dr. Bruce Banner (The Hulk) is not alone in his anger issues.

Care givers get plenty angry, as I’m sure you’ve detected in some of my rants on this blog.

The people in our care get angry, too. If nothing else, constant pain will mess with one’s emotional state. Throw in loss of freedom and control, and the occasional strong medications, and you have a prescription for everything from mild grumpiness to all out rage.

When both the person needing care and the care giver are stressed, we misread each others’ anger as personal attacks. That’s seldom an accurate perception.

Most of our anger is raw frustration with the situation that engulfs both parties: prolonged pain, lack of sleep, effort without results – stuff that’s neither person’s fault but for which both people feel guilt.

The person under care is ashamed of being in need, and of the difficulties this brings to their care giver. So if the care giver is angry about – I dunno, a broken appliance at the end of a long day – the person under care assumes that the anger is directed at him or her for being a problem.

Care givers are ashamed of our inability to make it all better. So if the person under care is in a bad mood from a day of constant pain, we are prone to assume that the anger is a criticism of our effort.

I don’t think I’m out of line saying that Melissa and I have had plenty of these misunderstandings. After more that two decades of marriage, I’m just starting to recognize her pain-based anger and not take it as a critical attack.

I’m sure we’ll revisit this subject from time to time. We don’t have a brilliant series in mind. Unlike Dr. Banner, we’re not angry all the time. But it gets the best of us often enough that it bears reflection and, God willing, yields something worth sharing for the benefit of others.

5 thoughts on “Anger (pt. 1 of ???)

  1. A friend once told me about driving across the country with his beloved wife. Their love was young and so were they, and they delighted in one another’s company. Then, in Arizona, the car’s AC broke and they had to endure several hours of scorching heat. After those few hours, they found they were fighting about everything. When they arrived at their destination – the home of some relations – the relatives quickly separated them and gave them cold drinks. Made a huge difference. And illustrated how hard it is to master one’s circumstances, much less one’s anger.

    Thanks for this post. You’ve put your finger on the pulse of human life here. None of us is immune; the symptoms just lie closer to the surface for caregivers. Probably this is because caregiving is like a fine but constant abrasion on one’s patience. A little abrasion followed by rest yields toughness; a constant abrasion with no rest yields blisters, and nerves laid raw.

    • Thanks, David. It is so true about the difference between developing a few callouses and being injured.

      Patience is, of course, fruit of the Spirit – another reason to withdraw from the abrasion from time to time and rub on some balm.

      • Interesting commentary by both David and Tim. When my girls were young (both under 5) and the epilepsy was just getting started, I remember someone very angry yelling while I was in the shower. It took a few minutes for me to realize that it was my inner voice yelling inside my head. And that is when i recognized anger and began to try to deal with it.
        Sarah’s sister gets very impatient with her–Sarah is slow and indecisive or overly stuck on one idea, for example. I tell the sister the patience is the gift Sarah brought with her to give to us all. Take a breath, relax, be patient and you will usually get where you are going. But it takes reminding for us all…

      • It really is normal life to have people – like siblings – grate on one another.

        And as you point out, Darlene, it gives us opportunity to learn, put up with, appreciate and grow if we are guided well. Bless you as you do the reminding!

  2. Pingback: Anger (part 2 of ???) | Sometimes Care Giving Stinks

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