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.