I’m sorry its been awhile. My life took a different (good) direction than I expected this fall and I’m just finding my footing. There are so many things in my life that often don’t feel clear, but there is one thing God has made clear to me over the last few years- I need to write. Not for you. Not for me. But because God asked me to. I want my pain to matter. I want my story to impact other people. I want people to learn from my mistakes. And if there is one thing I have not done well is grieve.. If you haven’t read any of my blog posts before, stop reading. Go back and read Transplant, maybe a couple posts in between and then read Denial. Meet me back here. Not much I will share today will make sense without context.
Denial was exhausting. From an outsider’s perspective, I was thriving. Below the surface I was constantly pushing down the current of emotions that was just waiting to burst through the surface.
Bless his heart.
I mentioned in Denial that I had a lot of coffee friends. Most of us can rally for an hour or two. But when Bryan and I started dating I couldn’t fake it anymore. We spent more than 2 hours at a time together. We traveled together. We had class together. We studied together.
We ran together.
My lifelong dream prior to my transplant was to run a marathon. We had recently started dating. Bryan and I were in the library at school. I saw something about the Twin Cities marathon and I nonchalantly said to Bryan “Do you want to run a marathon with me in October?” Without much hesitation Bryan said yes. He is generally game for anything.
So we ran together. That’s how we got to know each other. That’s how we dated each other for the first months of our relationship. At that point after my transplant (I was about 3 years in) I went in and got my blood drawn every month. As Bryan and I continued to run, my liver enzymes continued to climb (they are supposed to be low) and they couldn’t figure out why. I was put on a few new medications and you cannot even imagine the fear I was experiencing. My recent episode of rejection was still so fresh. I could not, would not, go through that again. But as much as I was full of fear, there was a bigger force at play. A force that had become my shield and my sword – it was denial. I didn’t care if liver enzymes were rising. I was going to run a marathon. I was not sick and I was going to prove it. To myself. To my doctor. To my family. To God.
I will spare you all the details. But I will tell you one thing.
I didn’t finish.
I was angry.
Let’s pause for a minute. I do recognize that running a marathon is not an everyday thing. Being able to run the marathon is not a good measure of whether or not one is healthy. But prior to my transplant, this would have been a very attainable goal.
For me, the marathon represented so much more than the miles I ran. It represented control. Somewhere along the way I had decided that if I was able to run a marathon I was in control of my body. It represented health. It represented a life that I had lost on August 13, 2000, a life that I so badly wanted back.
And when I did not finish the marathon, it represented a loss of a dream. A loss of control. A loss of the life I had known and the one I had dreamed of. My body, mind and soul were not the same and would never be the same again. I couldn’t deny it any longer.
The thin layer that was keeping my emerging emotions cracked. I was no longer in denial. I was angry. I was angry at God. I was angry that God didn’t stop this. I was angry at my classmates whose biggest problems revolved around a recent date or exam. I was angry at everyone around me who was healthy. I was angry at people who would tell me that God had a plan for me. I was angry at anyone who would try to comfort me.
I was angry because I was grieving.
But I didn’t know that was what was happening.
I knew one thing, I was angry. I have always been intense and I always will be. But this level of intensity is like nothing I had experienced before.
I yelled a lot. Bryan and I fought all the time. I was mad about something all the time and he was my person. He couldn’t do anything right. He was my safe place and my punching bag.
Like any respectable person would do, Bryan broke up with me.
I would have broke up with me too.
Our grief journey tends to be tough on the people we love. Because we often times don’t understand that grief is the driver behind our outbursts, we search for someone to blame. Not only do we blame people we love for how we feel, but they also get the worst of our emotions. Our anger comes out sideways. Instead of acknowledging our grief, our anger is projected on the people around us.
We yell. We scream. We blame.
We don’t mean to. We feel guilty. But we do it again. It feels as if it is happening to us and we have lost control. We suffer. You suffer. And then we do it again.
Does that sound familiar? Is there someone in your life right now that is angry all of the time? Are you angry all the time? Do you make small things big or big things small?
Could it be grief?
Don’t try to evaluate whether or not your loss deserves grief. It’s not about the experience itself, it’s about how you internalize it.
Just go there.
Examine your heart. Do it for the ones you love. They don’t deserve your misplaced anger. But more importantly, grieve because you can. God never promised that our lives would be without pain, but he promised to meet us there. He created a beautiful pathway for you as you process loss; it’s called grief. He will walk with you along the journey. Your process may take a while, but I promise you in the end it will be worth it.
Just ask Bryan. Your family will thank you.