It’s okay to be mad.
Be mad at the cancer that took your loved one. Be mad at the friend that took his life. Be mad at that driver who blew a red light and killed your sister. Be mad. I get it.
It’s okay to be sad.
I’m still sad and I think I always will be to some extent.
In the days and weeks that followed my brother’s passing, emotions were high. Really high. Some friends and family were mad. Mad he didn’t leave a note explaining why. Mad he didn’t reach out and get some help. Mad he was putting us through all of this. Actually “mad” isn’t a strong enough word. Pissed off. Yep, that’s it. Pissed off.
I was never mad at my brother. I knew he would never put us through this intentionally. We weren’t part of the thought process when he died. If we were any part of it, it was Mike thinking he was doing us a favor. That we wouldn’t have to worry about him anymore. Michael was kind. Michael was caring. It wasn’t his style to cause us any amount of pain.
And I think I quickly began to realize much more was happening with Mike than we had realized. He was depressed. Lots of stuff was weighing on him. Stuff we didn’t even know about. Finances, relationships, the drug and alcohol usage are just the tip of it. A pending DWI charge, a son he couldn’t see. . . Mike was in pain. Severe emotional pain. And numbing it with drugs and alcohol was making it worse. Much worse.
So, I wasn’t mad. I was sad. Sad for him. Sad for me. Sad for my parents and sad for my sister. I was sad.
So, amidst all of this pain, sadness and anger, how can you choose happy?
It’s not easy.
You need to take an inventory. What are your thoughts? How do you feel? What brings you peace? Be honest. Are you self-medicating with a glass of wine or a beer to get through your day? You must be honest with yourself. Are you pushing your anger towards other family members? Are you trying to act like you are the big tough guy without feelings? Never sad to only explode at any given point?
It is completely okay if you need help. Asking for help after taking an inventory is a very healthy thing to do. I did it. My therapist is fantastic – I’d be lost without her.
If you are reading this and thinking “No way. I am not seeing a therapist.” I get it. If a therapist isn’t your thing – you need to find out what is. I’m a big fan of talking. I talk a lot. Find someone – a best friend, a neighbor, a pastor – that you can talk to. There are several support groups. Do a google search for a local group in your area or find a virtual group that talks online. Start a journal. You need a safe place to share your thoughts.
Once I had my safe place to share my thoughts and feelings, I began to expand. I was no longer happy playing small. I started doing things I would never have done before. I took up skiing, took trips by myself, and so much more. I started to look at every area of my life and really think “What do I like? What do I want to create?” I took swimming lessons once I realized I wanted to be the mom that played in the water with her kids. . . not the mom watching from afar. My life has completely changed. I made a choice, once I was emotionally healthy again, to be happy. If I ever find myself unhappy I know I have a choice to make. A change perhaps.
I have goals set for each area of my life and I am doing something everyday to reach them. I reassess my goals on a regular basis and make edits. Life is simply too short to be playing it safe. Take a look at your life – what do you like? What do you want to create? Go get it. It might not happen overnight. In fact, it won’t. But playing it safe is no fun.
Choose happy. It’s a great place to be.