Meredith liked my last post, the one about handling a bad diagnosis with grace when it comes. “It was well written,” she said. Then Meredith added her postscript. ”Why don’t you write about how angry you get?” she challenged. “Talk about your despair, about how many times you say you wish you were dead?” Oh, that. She got me right between the eyes with that one. I preach calm resolve. I do not always live it.
There is, of course, a difference between dealing with a diagnosis, a relatively short-term process, and holding onto a positive attitude for a lifetime of living with an incurable illness. I am here to tell you that cannot be done perfectly, accept, perhaps, by Clark Kent.
When I fall in the kitchen, a shattered glass or plate around me like storm debris, when I cannot stand and feel the pain of my collapse, in an arm or leg and deep in my psyche, there is an explosive reaction that comes in an instant. No, I do not calmly note that this, too, shall pass. My language is coarse, the decibel level high. Darkness closes in as I react. Mortality seems inviting in the moment.
These disruptive demonstrations have a powerful effect on Meredith. For that reason, alone, I wish I were better at maintaining control. I am not. We are left with a wounded wife standing over her sheepish husband, who still cannot figure out how to put his feet back under him.
It is tempting to write off the incidents as releasing steam so I do not become a mass murderer. But I have to consider more than myself. I will occasionally erupt when the kids are around, but generally I leave off the part about designing my demise. I know I hurt my wife because my echoing cries go in one ear and stay there. Letting off steam may help me, but I know I am doing Meredith no favor.
Language is powerful. If you are going to gargle with nitroglycerin, beware of the consequences.