I went to heaven last night but they sent me back, I’m not ready yet. I’m too angry.
Wow! Excited, I lent over the cot side of my Dad’s hospital bed and asked “What was heaven like?”
This man who had been so confused the day before came straight back with “A series of rooms. But they sent me back, I’m not ready, I’m too angry”.
Dad had broken his hip and had surgery two weeks before. The day after surgery he had become very agitated, symptoms of “post-operative delirium”, something that a high percentage of the elderly have a fractured neck of femur and surgery.
Until the fall, a black out most likely, dad had been operating normally but had experienced a couple of “visions” in the previous weeks that told him his time was drawing in. He had woken once to see my late mum Margaret standing beside him.
Another time he had seen a beautiful golden face, which he thought might have been my mum or his own mother. He found these comforting and interesting. A retired chartered accountant who then became a minister, he had strong beliefs in the life after death.
But he was too angry, he couldn’t go to heaven yet.
The visit to heaven was enough to shake him out of his delirium at least!
That morning, with his new clarity, I told him that I’d made enquiries about getting him into a local nursing home. He asked which one it was then how much it cost.
He went quiet for a very few seconds while he did some mental arithmetic and told me he could afford the fees out of his pension. I was gobsmacked. He was totally back in chartered accountant mode after the saddest few days of total confusion.
Suppressed anger – an endemic problem
My dad was an angry, frustrated man. Damn and blast were often his key words and I used to hate being on our small boat with him. When on a family holiday our outboard motor fell off the back of the dinghy… oh my goodness, the air was thick. My mum, sister and I all hid, something not easy on a 22 foot yacht. It put me off sailing for life.
We went back at low tide and retrieved the outboard motor by the way!
I recently read a fascinating “When the body says no” by Gabor Mate. My take away was that suppressed anger, often frustration that we have no idea exists is really at the root of most health challenges.
For many years, since my nursing days in the 80’s, I’ve looked at my clients and seen an angry, sometimes frightened, frustrated, child within. Fists clenched, sometimes toes gripping the floor, maybe scared to speak or not listened to.
As little children many of us were taught that being angry, having a tantrum was something to be punished or at the least ridiculed.
“Don’t you look at me that way” is one phrase repeated by parents and teachers for millennia. What was said to you?
Many of us have been taught that anger is something bad, not feminine, and dangerous even. And worst of all, we have learnt to judge ourselves for being angry as we have been taught it is wrong.
How can we win?
I’ve found myself in discussion with friends and relatives whose elderly parents are angry, one sends furious emails every day, another hollers or rants when things don’t go right. My dear friends and cousins have to learn to cope, often having counselling and therapy to find a way to deal with the parent they love but who is constantly triggering them. It affects their own physical and mental health and creates rifts, guilt and huge frustration.
So, what’s the answer? – This is a big subject but here are a few starters.
Handling this while we are young enough to enjoy the rest of our life sounds is my way to go! Particularly with lockdown I’ve found myself crazily angry and irritable and triggered in ways that my higher self knows are futile BUT my earthly self was downright pissed off and desperate to be right!
My dad had to live another eight weeks before he was allowed to slip away to “be with your mum” as he put it. During those weeks he had to accept total care.
His body was shutting down, his swallowing faltered, his legs wouldn’t cooperate, and he was incontinent. He was helpless.
He was miserable but never showed any more anger!
Awareness of yourself is the key and the beginning.
Look at your own triggers. It is said that we can only see what already there for us. So if someone is triggering you, it’s not about them ultimately, it’s about you.
Judgement always starts with us, if we are judging others then ultimately we are judging ourselves.
What’s your body trying to tell you?
My friend has a problem with her cheek, from biting her lip, not being able to speak her truth to her father, she tells me!
For me it’s irritated skin. My face and hands can go red and be so itchy it seems in an instant. This week, I realised it was because I was so irritated about a comment that I felt was undermining me. I steamed for a few hours, got very hot and red then talked to my ego and together we decided to trust that things were unfolding gently and all would be well. The following day the red had subsided and I’m back to calm again.
For example, my irritation was because I can be hugely irritated with myself, for many things too numerous to mention! I practice a Hawaiian healing technique Ho’opono pono which is wonderful for clearing frustrations and worries with ourselves. Videos on Youtube demonstrate it beautifully, it has many fans.
Talk to the little you, the five year old one.
Also being kind to myself, nurturing the little Rosemary within who is feeling side lined, scared and not heard. I’ve taken to sitting her on the sofa next to me and having a chat with my five year old self. It works wonders! She feels heard then I can start again with a new zest.
My dad will be delighted that I’m sharing this experience with you, he’s still being of service from the other realm!