I seem to be angry, and have been for about three days. Angry? Why? A good question.

I imagine you might think, “Ah. Anger. One of the stages of grief; to be expected.” Well, in my current state of mind … perhaps you could take a minute, put your lips together, place your tongue in an appropriate position, and blow. If the sound coming out of your mouth doesn’t sound like a “raspberry,” repeat until it does.

There was a time, back in the day, when my being angry would have been as newsworthy as “Dog bites man.” In other words, not worth even mentioning.

Back in the day, I actually had a counselor tell me I changed every emotion into anger quicker than anyone she ever knew. Well, of course I said, “Thank you.” One doesn’t always get the chance to be the best at something, and even then I knew being polite was important. “That’s not a good thing,” she said. To which I replied, “Why don’t you just shut up?” keeping my mood-changing streak alive.

Now this was an excellent counselor, so she persisted. “Why do you do that?”

“Do what?” (I could be persistent too, with the added advantage of being immature.)

“You were just thinking about something that was making you tear up, but immediately you got angry instead, You cut off those tears completely. Why did you do that?”

I had a quick answer for her, right out of my “Big Book of Answers Guaranteed to get a Counselor off Your Back.”

“Because, I’m afraid if I start crying, I won’t be able to stop,” I said in a manner that suggested weeping was just around the corner.

She laughed. “Well, that’s foolish,” she said. “You’re going to fall asleep at some point, and you’ll stop crying then.”

As an angry person, I was a little short on snappy comebacks. “Yeah? Well, so’s your mother,” I barked, hoping volume would make up for the fact that it made no sense whatsoever. But then, I thought it over for a moment and decided, “I want my money back on that ‘Big Book of Answers Guaranteed to get a Counselor off Your Back,’ that’s for damned sure!”

But that was just the start of a beautiful relationship that counselor and I were to have as we worked on my anger issues. Mind you, this was before anger management became a fashionable term. She had the big, padded stick deal you were supposed to hit things with when you got mad. I never used them, but in keeping with my own style, I did speak harshly to them a number of times.

That was almost 20 years ago, and it has been a long time since I set about changing any coming emotion into anger. So, when I say I seem to be angry at this point in time, it isn’t something I say lightly, or without considerable thought.

But here’s the thing: I am also very, very tired. I know I’ve moaned about this before, but the tiredness is worse than ever. I know I should write fatigue, instead of tiredness, but it isn’t fatigue. It is tiredness. If you don’t see any difference, that’s OK. It’s sort of like saying I’m dealing with anger management instead of anger issues, I suppose. It’s a question of tone.

I’m sure I don’t sound very brave when I say I’m tired of my bones hurting each and every day, and the constant pains in my stomach are getting old. Then, too, being aware that I have an incurable cancer, even though our treatment protocol has kicked its ass, is wearing on me.

I’m also pretty tired of hearing myself speak/write about me. I just feel like yelling, “Shut up, shut up, shut up,” every time I have a self-centered thought. But then, I also feel like yelling, “Shut up, shut up, shut up,” every time I hear someone talk about cute puppy/kitten pictures/videos on Facebook, so what am I supposed to do about that?

When we were first going together, Sheri used to try to get me to physically release the anger by striking cookie sheets against posts in the basement. It didn’t really help with my anger issues, but it did cause a lot of bent cookie sheets and cookies that wouldn’t lay flat.

But, of course, given time, the anger passes, just like so many other ups and downs that have become part of my journey, which, at this point, is far more of a mental challenge than physical. The one constant in all of it is the gratitude I have for the life I am now living. The sooner I get in touch with that part of my heart, the sooner the other … stuff … goes away.

Jim Arnold is a former copy editor for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. To read more about his journey through cancer, visit his blog, findingthepony.blogspot.com.

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