Anger and resentment can be normal feelings, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone and help is out there.
We’ve all experienced anger and resentment before. It’s that red hot feeling that starts in our gut and slowly takes over the rest of our body and mind until we’re ready to start screaming.
Under typical circumstances, anger can be uncomfortable for both parties in a relationship, but when you add in a cancer diagnosis, it can be downright debilitating.
I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma at age 33 and had the most perfect husband in the world. He came to every appointment, rubbed my back while I threw up throughout the night, and carried me to and from the bathroom when my bone pain made it too difficult to walk.
Even after all that endless doting on me, I still felt that red hot anger simmering under the surface many times.
My third round of chemotherapy was rough on me physically. From the get-go, I was nauseous, dizzy, and all-around miserable.
Through tears, I remember looking over my shoulder at my husband sitting in his recliner in my treatment room. His eyes were closed while he rested his hands on his lap and snored ever so lightly to pass the time. That anger in me started at that moment.
Why couldn’t he stay awake with me? Why wasn’t he holding my hand and telling me it was going to be OK? Why was I the only one feeling alone surrounded by doctors and nurses poking and prodding me like I was a voodoo doll?
You’re not alone in your anger and resentment. Millions of other cancer fighters and survivors are right there in that pit of snakes with you.
I flushed that anger down the toilet along with the vomit I couldn’t keep in my system for the rest of the day while he went to work as if it were a typical day. Later that evening, I lay in our bed attempting to fall asleep. The bone pain in my legs was close to unbearable and I called out for my husband with no reply.
I walked into his home office to find him sipping a glass of scotch and playing a video game. In any other household, this may be a routine occurrence. And in my own household before chemotherapy, it was also a normal occurrence.
But at that moment, it felt like a betrayal, and I instantly resented him. Why did he get to sip a drink and relax after his “rough day” of sleeping through my treatment while I couldn’t even lay still without feeling like my legs were trying to rip themselves apart in pain?
My feelings that day (and many days after) were and still are completely normal. It’s easy to feel as if your life has ended suddenly while everyone else’s lives continue. Everyone wants to believe that the world stops turning when they need a break, but unfortunately, it doesn’t.
Remember in those moments that you’re not alone in your anger and resentment. Millions of other cancer fighters and survivors are right there in that pit of snakes with you. The trick is to see outside of your own box and recognize pain in others.
The first step in getting through tough moments like these is seeking someone who can help you navigate your initial feelings. It can be a friend, a colleague, a family member, or even a trained therapist. Seeing things from another perspective can be key to understanding the feeling itself, which can help you move forward in a healthy and positive way.
That red hot hate feeling in your gut doesn’t have to be permanent.
In my own instance of rage, I was mad that my husband was napping while I was willingly pumping poison into my veins just to stay alive (or at least that’s how it felt). What I forgot was that he had been awake most of the night before, rubbing my legs and back to help me through the bone pain and he was exhausted before our hour-long drive to treatment.
That night, he sat in his office, unusually depressed and sipping scotch while his mind asked what he did to deserve the love of his life being put through all of what I was facing. What we were facing.
The truth is, it’s very easy to say, as a person with cancer, that we are the only ones fighting because truthfully, we are. My husband went to every single treatment with me, but he was always in a different chair.
He didn’t feel the same type of pain or the crushing weight of losing your chest at a young age. He didn’t have to make the choice to lose a piece of his body to live a full life later without it.
But he felt his own pain, and it took a trained therapist and many hours of therapy for me to see his side of the fight. Those video games shut off his brain when he needed it most.
There are many services all over the world that offer in-person therapy, virtual therapy, and even virtual support groups to all sorts of patients. Finding a virtual therapist that I could see from the comfort of my bed was the greatest gift I could have been given.
She not only helped me navigate my own anger and resentment toward others, but she has helped me learn more about myself and how to navigate my entire cancer “journey.”
Therapy helped me be less self-conscious about my hair and the way I looked from all the medication. It helped keep my immune system intact and gave me an outlet to vent when I truly needed it. My therapist instructed me to keep a diary for the moments I felt that anger rising, and to then bring it up with my husband later after the initial emotion had passed.
She taught me deep breathing techniques, helped me stay on task with the things my brain couldn’t process on its own, and all around made my life better. I also leaned on Facetime dates with my godmother, walks at the park, or even a stroll around Walmart. These things can be more therapeutic than you realize.
That red hot hate feeling in your gut doesn’t have to be permanent. I am convinced that although I didn’t ask for cancer, I’m grateful for the beneficial tools it led me to learn while I was stuck with it.
Take a deep breath and try to see the other side of the fight. I promise you, the bigger picture is a lot closer and a lot clearer than you even know.
Fact checked on August 01, 2022
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