I am generally a very easy going person, although I have always got upset by injustice in any form. During my married lifes’ ( 3 times!) I lived in a state of perpetual stress & consequently spent much of the time shouting , ranting & raging, mainly at the husband in question. I loved being a Mother hen to my 5 sons & tried my hardest to bring them up well. I was a stay at home Mum, which to me that seemed very important, although with 2 out of my 3 husbands not working, money was always really tight. However I still tried to maintain an old fashioned standard, with home made food, lots of messy play, country walks, family sessions of jam making & so on. I thought that the activities would be emblazoned in their memories, which was proved wrong. Now I realise that they would have preferred me to have a full time job, to give them all the things that children think are important. One of my sons even wanted to be taken into care in the nearby children’s home. I was horrified, but eventually he admitted that it was because the children all had their own bikes, whereas my kids had to share one.
why am I telling you this? I’m not really sure, I just wanted to explain how easy it is to think that you are doing the right thing, only to have it backfire in your face!!!
Both latter marriages were extremely turbulent, by which time I had developed severe depression & had lost my self confidence. I hated rows, especially hurtful words, learning that the only way of protecting myself from emotional pain was to agree to anything., anything at all! There is an old saying which was drilled into me, as I expect it was to a lot of you. ‘Sticks & stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you’ In my case this is patently untrue. My 2nd husband used to beat me with sickening regularity. Cleverly he rarely hit me where it showed. For years I kept this a secret, as many abused women ( & men) do. Loyalty, I guess. The point being that after a few days or weeks the bruises would fade & the pain would go away. My 3rd Husband preferred to use emotional tactics, saying things that he knew would hurt me. I had trusted him with my most intimate secrets, believing that He would keep them to himself, which he most certainly didn’t! He would say dreadful things that cut like a knife & would use things that I had divulged, as ammunition, even threatening to post things online for the world to know my business. Sometimes, once sober he would apologise, often not, but it didn’t alleviate the pain that those spiteful words caused. Yes I agree that I may be overly sensitive, but nothing can harden up someone who can still feel the pain of a row, many, many years later. I certainly tried. I tried to eradicate that pain through alcohol, through denial, self harm, running away, counselling, nothing could take that pain away. It was in my psyche , my burden. Something that I had to carry around with me wherever I went. Little wonder that I was diagnosed with a mental health problem.
Unfortunately my family’s’ sense of humour had inadvertently laid a very rocky base during my childhood, teasing me relentlessly, especially as I was a sensitive nervous child, prone to tears. I don’t believe any harm was intended, I was expected to see it for the joke that it was. I learnt to laugh it off, it was easier than speaking out against their authority. Behind the smiles & laughter though, there was a shuddering, terrified child who believed that she was worthless.
I lived for 60 years like this!
when I eventually gained the strength to leave my last marriage, my self esteem was nil. I had failed as a wife for a 3rd time. I was totally empty. I had been filled with so much baggage that there was no space for any further emotion. I had lost everything. I had nothing. No- one. I coudn’t even trust or belief in myself. I was a failure in every sense.
A few years ago, I began to realise that I wasn’t as bad as I had believed. After some heart wrenching therapy, I found myself. But I was still alone. No-one to fight my corner. I vowed there & then that I wouldn’t never let anyone else suffer in the way that I had. I promised myself that I would always be there to help, if I could possibly could. I began to research people’s rights & learnt what I could about abusive relationships, with a special interest in older people, mainly due to the fact that I now lived in a retirement home. I could see that look of helplessness on some of the residents faces & that air of resignation, this was their lot in life, they just had to accept it! I found myself getting angry at the injustice of it all. Here were people who had been through some horrendous situations, not least the War, some even both World Wars. Many had been abused or maltreated by arrogant husbands, used as skivvies, baby factories, housekeepers, but not a person in their own right. Of course they didn’t have many rights when they were younger, women generally were very second class citizens! I befriended, encouraged & helped where I could, but I was lacking a very necessary skill – the ability to speak out ! It has been a difficult thing to master & although I now have the courage, I do sometimes get it badly wrong.
To learn how to help, I had to learn how to feel passionately about the issues that stoked my fire. Learning to speak out in a way that gets taken notice of is a skill that doesn’t come easy to me. When there is risk of a confrontation, my old self comes out of hiding & urges me to run away, not to take the chance of getting hurt again. Thankfully my new self isn’t such a coward! While I may well try to negotiate in issues concerning myself, I cannot see injustice done to those in greater need than myself. I know that I have set very high standards for myself, & that failure can cause me such grief, but due to my circumstances, I believe that failure would be if I didn’t try, not if I don’t succeed. Through living alone, I have learnt was is & isn’t important to me, so am able to act on what I feel strongly about.
Whenever I have to speak out, especially if I am under the spotlight or am under pressure, I quake inside. A stroke several years ago, followed by a succession of Miami strokes, coupled with debilitating fibromyalgia has rooted me of the ability to find the words that I need. I have managed to get rid of a serious stammer that I had developed, but can feel myself getting stressed if I can’t grasp an important word. I know what I want to say, it’s there, in my head but won’t come out of my mouth. At times I sound like a babbling idiot, at others, I over compensate by talking too much, thankfully though I am able to conduct most of my affairs through the written word, which for some strange reason hasn’t been too badly affected!
Now, having gone all around the houses with my story, I come back to my original question. Is it ever right to get angry? I thought that by writing this, I would have got a definitive answer, but I haven’t. Maybe there isn’t one. There is a very fine line between being passionate about a cause & getting angry in the face of injustice. I began this epic with the intention of explaining about something that made me fume earlier. It isn’t an issue that will go away overnight, so I can look at it again in the morning, after a few hours sleep. Perhaps I will find inspiration to know how to tackle the issue. In the meantime however, I have decided that probably, for me, getting too angry isn’t ever a good thing. Words are powerful weapons and useful tools. In anger it is difficult to manage those tools wisely. Passion & frustration are a more necessary requirement for me, without these comes apathy. Apathy, complacency, indifference, laziness. Words that I hope never to need to use in relation to my life.
Yes I have set very high standards. I try live by my standards. My beliefs are my rule book. I sometimes have to adhere to rules that I don’t agree with, we all do, but no one can dictate how I feel or what I believe. That is a freedom that each and everyone of us has. I am so grateful for this life that I have been given, I don’t intend to waste any of it on unhelpful emotions like anger. How about you? Food for thought maybe?
Until next time I’ll say farewell & wish you love & laughter,
Rosina X. ⚖ 🕉