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There are days that I feel angry. Incredibly angry. Days where I’m not positive or happy or hopeful, but more like cheated, picked on and pissed off. Days when it’s not fair and I can’t convince myself that everything is a blessing. There are days when the world is sucky and mean and I worry I don’t have the strength to handle it any more.

I recognize there are so many people who have it worse than me. People who struggle harder or are burdened with more. People who have to deal with such grief and pain that it’s a effort just to function.  Most of the time I’m able to keep things in perspective, but, anyone who’s ever had to deal with a life changing event/situation will tell you, there are certain days where perspective feels impossible and all you can think about is yourself. I recently had one of those days and, as I sat in my doctor’s office beside a woman on oxygen, her tank puffing away as she struggled to take a deep breath, all I could think was “Please God, don’t let that be me.”

What I look like on the surface.

The thing about dealing with something like a chronic illness is that you have to adjust and learn to live within your new perimeters and still function with a sense of peace. This doesn’t mean you’re less scared or sad. It just means you accept that life goes on and you have to as well. When you’re able to do that you have the chance of living a relatively “normal” life. When you put the anxiety and fear aside just enough that you’e able to exist on the same plain as your friends and family. My problem seems to arise when one extra thing goes wrong. It’s like I’ve tamped down my feelings just enough to operate but, if one more thing is added to my bucket it spills over and I freak out, unable to regulate my emotions, and all of my feelings come pouring out at once. The most prominent feeling being anger.

My recent trip to the doctor was one of those times. As I sat beside that poor woman trying to catch her breath, I found myself in a state of extreme agitation. That morning I’d awoken to a, not insubstantial, indent on the side of my head. It looked as if someone had taken their thumb to the area just above my left temple and pushed it and now my skull was caving in. I took one look at that concave hole and just lost it.

The thing is when you hold it together every day, dealing with your death or your finances (owed in no small measure to the aforementioned death) or, your often ludicrously bad luck, you spend most of your time just trying to tamp down your fears enough to play your role (as a mother, or a career lady or, just, a generally ok-ish person) adequately but, seeing that divot in my skull – a possible side effect of a vitamin D/Calcium deficiency due to one of my drugs – was the preverbal straw.

I knew my horror was based more on vanity than mortality but, what I felt was “Give me a f*^#ing break!! On top of everything I’m going to be deformed?! Are you f*^#ing kidding me?! I called my doctor and he had me immediately come in immediately.

What I feel like on the inside is more like William Harrington’s painting Sea Venture in the Storm.

I put a fair amount of weight into holding on as much as possible to my old life or who I was before I was sick. I find it grounds me so I don’t feel as if I’m about to float away. I know who I am even if I don’t recognize myself as much anymore. Somehow, the thought that I might end up with a collapsed skull, an outward reminder of my inward deficiencies, just really pissed me off. No matter how calm I may appear on the surface, I am debilitatingly angry that this is happening to me and, occasionally, my control slips and my restrain turns to panic.

As I sat through the bone density test and the skull x-rays I started thinking about all the other people in the world who are living with anger and how tiring it can be. We know someone who recently lost her son to cancer. It happened relatively suddenly after years of fighting. Though I have no doubt she’s devastated, my guess is she is also angry. How could you not be? Life isn’t fair. Who gets sick versus who doesn’t seems completely arbitrary. Lovely people die while s*^#ty people live all the time. Bad things happen to good people while hideous people can live perfectly charmed existences.

Our ship coming in courtesy of

Sean and I work every day to try and better our lives. We got pushed seriously off track but, we’re fighting every day to make our dreams a reality. If we don’t make it, it won’t be from lack of effort or skill. It won’t be because we were lazy. It’ll just be.  A while back I broke down and said, “When is it going to be our turn? What are we doing wrong?” I’m just so tired of waiting. I realize what’s important. I see it every morning in my bed with my boys during our morning cuddle but, it doesn’t make me less frustrated. Why does it have to be SO hard?

As it turns out, my skull is not caving in. A number of people saw it so, I can safely say, I’m not going insane but, my skull and bones seem to be holding up under the strain of my meds and the wildness of my mind and today my forehead looks way less like I was just delivered using forceps. I’m back to maintaining and I understand, as the cliche goes, that some days are just better than others.

I look forward to the day when all the effort pays off. When I can truly breath a sigh of relief. When my general stasis can return to calm and I can meet my challenges with the energy to rise above the fear. I’m not an angry person. I’m a person who’s circumstances have made her angry. I await the day where I can just let it go. In the meantime, I’ll keep watching the horizon and trying to stay afloat.

xo Leigh

As a side note, the day after I posted this piece Sean’s car was broken into. They drilled a hole right through the door, used a crowbar, then tried to hot wire it. They ended up just leaving with just the airbag from the steering wheel rather than the car itself, but really?! You gotta be kidding me…

24 Comments Post a comment
  1. Keili #

    Love you, dude… Xoxo

    October 15, 2012
  2. Kathy Daché' #

    I so appreciate your honesty and vulnerability.
    You are completely right about life being a struggle. If I could, I might just put my children in a safe bubble where nothing bad could ever hurt them, or influence them to hurt themselves. And with so many of “my signatures” seeping away because of the effects of meds, or age, it is easy to panic and get mad. I just get more frustrated. I want to explain that these physical changes are not my fault, but really, who cares?
    So, I am trying to transfer my hopes to heaven. Not in some creepy, zoned out, disconnected way. I am still completely connected. But I ask my son, “I wonder what you will remember about your childhood?”
    He says, “mom, you ask me that all the time!”
    Also, I secretly transfer some hopes that won’t come true here to heaven. I secretly put them into my “things I will do with the kids in heaven” basket.
    I realize that everyone is struggling here, even the “healthy” people. The amazing thing about brushing up with death is that we realize how transient we are. Everyone is transient. It’s just that most people never realize that fact.
    I wish great blessings on you in all your moments.
    Kathy Dache’

    October 15, 2012
    • “Things I will do with my kids in heaven basket.” Good God Kathy. You’re so strong. I’m not sure I’m ready to be that conscious. Bless you and your tenacity. Thank you for your support. xo leigh

      October 15, 2012
  3. This is a very brave and honest post.I can’t truly relate to your challenges but I thought I might share something with you that changed the way I thought about death after I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001. FEAR was my overwhelming response and it was paralyzing me and keeping me from enjoying my life and being grateful for every moment.Anger can do that too. One of my darkest days a thought suddenly came to me that when anyone gets up in the morning and starts their day they can’t know it might be their last day. I suddenly felt I belonged again when I thought about this.Before that I felt separated from most of humanity because I had been labeled with the BIG C and that meant I might die sooner than expected.Suddenly I realized anyone can die any moment which makes every moment more valuable and precious.
    I slowed down and looked for the joy and beauty in small things, which I know you do. I’m so grateful that I’m an artist and it’s my job to really pay attention.
    On the concern you expressed about your son’s school I know a little about schools having taught for many years and having a son of my own who is legally blind and has albinism. He went through public schools and much pain and difficulty but turned out to be a marvelous human being. Kids are amazingly resillient. I would say that if the school is really bad I would home school my child if I had it to do over. There are wonderful resources now for support and materials. Children get plenty of socialization through sports, church and and friend gatherings. They don’t have to go to a bad school just to have social opportunities. You can provide endless opportunites for your own child. Life is a field trip. Make it fun.

    October 15, 2012
    • Feeling separated from the rest of the world is a big one isn’t it? Like everyone’s living in this wonderful world that you’re not a part of anymore? But even when I feel that way, I know it’s not true, I’m just feeling sorry for myself. You’re right, no one knows how long they’re here whether they’re sick or not. It does make us all more the same than different. Thanks for the reminder. I’ll keep you posted on the schools. Here’s hoping!! xo leigh

      October 15, 2012
  4. Leigh, you are so articulate and aware. Please know that you give strength to people you don’t even know (like me). But you don’t have to be strong all the time–everyone deserves to give in to their anger and sadness once in a while. I’m glad you are back to maintaining and staying afloat. Hugs.

    October 15, 2012
    • Those days are necessary I suppose. It’s just all too much sometimes. Thank you for your continued support Jeannette. It really means a lot. xo leigh

      October 15, 2012
  5. Mary Darbinian #

    Well said; I too lost a son and it wasn’t fair. Remembering the ANGER I felt for a very long time made it difficult for me to HEAL. My prayers to you that you feel the presence of GOD carrying you through these trying times and you experience his love and encouragement to hang in there:-) The rainbow will come:-) Mary (Rita Navarro’s Aunt)

    October 15, 2012
    • Thank you for your hope Mary. I’m so sorry about your son. I realize my saying that does nothing to alleviate your sorrow, but my heart is with you anyway. You’re right about anger holding us back. I try to get a handle on it every day. Lots of love. Love your family! xo leigh

      October 15, 2012
  6. You have poured so much of your heart and soul here and I can perfectly understand having anger as a reaction to life’s challenges. You do it with such grace though and can only wish you a miracle. Bella

    October 15, 2012
  7. I spent the morning with a dear friend, a precious human being who deserves everything good. Eight years ago her husband had an affair and left her with two kids and barely a highschool diploma. She put herself through college, raised two amazing kids, and married a man who adores every inch of her. Six months later, she was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. She was given less than a year to live, and has fought for 18 months. Today I took her to get a slurry of pain meds. Having exhausted all FDA approved treatment she bides time; waiting for another drug to get approved or another trial to come open. I sat in a room as she took off her boots to allow the doctor to exam the the strange tinge of her toenails, she then pulled up a pant leg to expose an odd purple rash that burns constantly, from there it was her cracked and bleeding hands, the heartburn, and so on. I knew she was suffering, but had no idea. As we left the hospital, she inched her way to the car and collapsed into a puddle of tears. I cried with her: both of us angry, sad, and destroyed by the injustice of it all (why her?). “You know,” she finally said, “sometimes I get on facebook and read what people post and all I can think is; ‘really you have had an entire day of life and that’s all you can come up with’?”

    I am so sorry for all that you are facing, but so grateful for the honesty you share. The rest of us, who daily take life for granted, need the perspective. Blessings to you.

    October 15, 2012
    • Man, your friend is walking a tough road. I’m really thinking there is something to the theory that stress makes us sick. How much stress did she have to go through with her divorce, her kids, her school, her bills before she could finally take a break and enjoy the new love in her life? It’s interesting the fallout that vast amounts of strain have on our health and our psyche and when we finally take a breath to let our mind rest and our bodies shut down. It’s like when you work so hard on something in school – staying up night and day – and when you finally hand it in, you get a cold. It’s like that only much, much worse. I’m so sorry for your friend. I’m sorry for her pain and suffering. I’m sorry for her husband (the new one). I’m sorry for her kids. I’m sorry for you because it’s so hard to watch a loved one suffer and not be able to do anything. It’s so important she has you to lean on. Trust me, it means a lot. Life can be overwhelmingly difficult at times and we need people in our lives that we don’t always have to be strong around. People with whom we can cry and rage.
      I also feel her on the Facebook thing. People just don’t get it. I understand that everything is relative. To them it’s important. But for a number of us it’s like, Come on. Really?
      Thank you for writing. Love and prayers to your friend and her family. xo leigh

      October 15, 2012
  8. Jim #

    Here’s a flower. I hope it takes some of the anger away, at least for a minute.

    October 15, 2012
    • Jim #

      Well, there was supposed to be a flower photo attached to that. It’s here:

      Black-eyed Susan

      October 15, 2012
      • Thanks Jim! Black Eyed Susan’s always remind me of my mom. xo leigh

        October 15, 2012
  9. Laurie Wallace #

    Darling Leigh, I know you don’t like it, but it’s perfectly OK to be angry. It’s so human, and in a way, can be cathartic. Just remember that it will pass. You have more than enough to deal with, but you are coping, really managing, in spite of all the difficulties. It just doesn’t seem that way to you, but look what you are: loving wife and intelligent companion, exceptional mother, excellent housekeeper (an important skill in spite of what people might say), devoted daughter, loyal friend to so many, talented writer, and good-looking too–which is very important to one’s psychology. The money thing is tough, but to love and be loved is better than money.

    Lovingly, Laurie

    October 15, 2012
  10. Leigh. Thank you so much for your writing. While I don’t have a life altering, death seeing condition, I do deal with depression. There are people who have told me to just get over it or think positive thoughts or try this organic natural therapy or this drug. It is not as easy as that. What makes the bouts of depression easier and more manageable is the support I have from people I love. But there are those days when I find myself incredibly pissed off. It’s not fair that my husband and I have to work so hard and I see others being handed everything in life. The pictures you used in your blog so depict how I feel. Calm on the outside and a rolling tempest on the inside.
    When the anger subsides, I find relief. And I know it’s okay to get angry. It’s okay to shake my fist at life, at God. He’s big enough to take it. It’s after being angry when my blessings become clearer and I have a greater sense of who I am, and why I am here. I would not be me without the depression or without the occasional angry outburst.
    Leigh, your an incredible person in the midst of all you are going through. Thank you for sharing your journey. Thank you for listening to your God voice.

    October 16, 2012
    • Thank you jomccoy. I really appreciate the support. All the very best to you and your family and may things only continue to get better. xo leigh

      October 16, 2012
  11. Leigh,

    The description of the metaphorical bucket is dead-on – chronic health issues have a way of rearing their ugly heads and have definitely tipped me past the breaking point before. I felt like my emotions were so much more predictable before I was injured.

    At any rate, I just wanted to say thanks again for writing, I definitely relate to where you’re coming from, and well, here’s a HUGE HUG.

    Always, S

    October 16, 2012
  12. I feel your frustration and I also have absolutely no idea what it feels like all at the same time. But I always know you’ll keep going, you are more alive right now and more in touch with yourself and the world than most people I know. I love you. I am so proud of you. You inspire me every day.

    October 17, 2012
  13. Hi Leigh – love your honesty, babe. I was told not to compare my insides with other people’s outsides, I found this advice very helpful but it’s hard remember when everyone’s always holding up a bright & shiny outside. Thanks for having the courage to share your insides.

    Oh, and this is for Hamid:


    October 22, 2012
  14. I admire your courage and patience with which you look at things! Life’s a parody. Goes on and making it better is left to us, which I see you are good at 🙂

    October 22, 2012
  15. princessthought2013 #

    You are a remarkable woman and an awesome person. Glad to know that I am not the only person who thinks this way. You sound a lot like me in a lot of the things you say. Keep doing this; not only will your son appreciate it one day, but others – total strangers and fellow bloggers will too. Well wishes upon you and your health and your family.

    March 14, 2013
    • Thank you princessthought2013. I sincerely appreciate the support and reminder that what I’m doing is worthwhile. All the very best, xo leigh

      March 14, 2013

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