April 13, 2018
A hypothetical for you: Can you envision a circumstance in which you felt anger – from mild irritation to blazing fury – that did NOT include the concept of blame?
I had a most remarkable session today with Regina, the biofeedback counselor at Body Dynamics in Falls Church, VA. After she goo’ed electrodes to my ears and scalp (the only unappealing part of biofeedback), we got into a discussion about The Dead Husband Issue.
(New readers start here: My husband Jonathan died last year after four years of altered behavior and probable mental impairment that made living with him… challenging. His death infuriated me, since it didn’t have to happen. He didn’t kill himself, of course… on the other hand, he took no steps to protect his life, so WHAT A JERK.)
“Of course,” Regina said, “anger and blame don’t HAVE to go together.”
“Yes, they do,” I protested. “Always. Anger is the result of an injustice – something unfair. That gets you angry, and it’s always attached to a wrong that must be righted. That means blame.”
“Not necessarily. You can be angry about karma – about being dealt a bad hand. There’s no blame in that.”
I sat in stunned silence. STUNNED.
Is it possible that I could be angry with my husband for leaving me, for putting me through this trauma, for putting our son through it – and NOT blame him?
The metaphorical earth beneath my feet began to shake. Jonathan was incapable of making a good decision by the end, but it wasn’t his fault. He had the gastric bypass (the one that led to the B-12 deficiency that led to the brain imbalance) for us – he did it for his family. Was he, then, to blame for the physical effects of that decision?
Of course not… yet if you always pair anger with blame (as I always have), you have to have both or neither, and I have too much anger for neither. Both was my only option.
But if you can uncouple the two – if you can legitimately be angry without pointing a finger…
…might this not be the route, the path to – what? Resolution? Forgiveness? Acceptance?
Regina was still talking; she had very valid points, but they rolled off me like raindrops on a slicker. I waved her off. “Hang on – I’m still on anger and blame.”
I am READY to be done with anger; I’m ready to remember the man I loved so deeply for twenty years and forget the bitter bastard who unintentionally poisoned the last four. Maybe, maybe, maybe…
Can YOU think of an example of anger without blame? I’d be most grateful to hear it in the comments; here or on Facebook.
This Venn diagram is actually wrong… I really need a HUGE overlap between anger and blame, with a question mark to indicate curiosity as to what happens when the two conditions are separated, but I couldn’t figure out how to draw that. What – you want your money back?!