For some, emotions -- positive or negative -- are not readily expressed, at least not in public. Some may take this as good manners, others as signs of rigidity and unnatural restraint. In any case, researchers warn that perpetual emotional suppression is nothing benign but can lead to potentially serious mental and physical health problems and even premature death.
A few days ago, the well known and respected commentator Rex Murphy presented a blistering critique of atheists, which seems to have been triggered by the recent debate over whether atheists soldiers should have access to their own chaplain. I believe it is worthwhile to highlight another glaring weakness of Mr. Murphy's article -- his misuse of the term anger.
Anger is a daunting emotion, a sentiment that we try to evade or even conceal till our wit allows us to. It's interesting to see how we are repulsed by anger; even an association with it is dreaded. Though it makes me wonder, isn't it just another emotion, a feeling without which we would be incomplete?
I am friends with all my exes! Many people find this very strange. Many years ago I had an extremely bad break up, and because there was so much hurt between us we decided to not speak. This was one of the most difficult and challenging times of my life. But as I get older I have little time for bitterness, anger, or hurt. If there is an ex in your life whom you feel anger towards or cannot speak to them, let them go.
A caregiver definitely needs to "get a handle" on his or her day. As the day begins, so it usually unwinds, and tension begets tension. I get a handle on my day by meditating. That ritual precedes the ritual of caregiving. And ritual it must be. I have found that a familiar routine is absolutely essential to a calm day -- meals, bathroom, exercise, naps, bed, at the same time every day. The pace of the day is determined by Alzheimer's.
It seems to me that Alzheimer patients have quite a lot to be angry about. It is tempting to take it personally, to be hurt, to even get angry ourselves. But that accomplishes nothing. We know that, in the end, this is a battle that Alzheimer's will win. But the disease doesn't have to win every round. I try to think of myself and my husband as partners in the fight. If I can calm his anger with a hug or a smile or a word of understanding, we have won at least one round.
Anger that's being denied festers inside you like an unhealed wound. The pain you feel as a result of this buried emotion causes you to have one of two reactions: either you become overly nice and pleasing, in reaction against the anger bubbling up inside you, or you become irritable or surly, defensive or hostile.