Even as a child, I loved sleep – snuggling down and drifting away. As an adult, I love sleep even more. It is in much shorter supply, so I enjoy every extra moment, and there is usually fresh coffee when I wake up. In addition, I have always felt better – calmer, happier, more centered – when I wake up, even from a nap. Recently, the mood elevation is not longer true. I have been waking up tired and angry and feeling hopeless.
The anger has been hard to deal with – I am just not an angry person usually. Don’t get me wrong – I have a temper and have never believed that it is better to hold it in and pretend – but my anger has always been of the flash variety. It has always taken a lot to make me angry because I can usually see the humor or feel the other person’s trauma. When I got angry, my temper would flare, and then it would be gone very quickly. In fact, when my daughter was a teenager, she complained. She would do something teenaged, I would be furious, she would gear up for the big sullen rebellion against the angry parent, only to find that I had totally moved on and wanted to have lunch, shop, etc.
Lately, my anger is no longer a flash. It has felt like a continuous low boil that manifests unexpectedly in a flood of heartbroken tears or furious words. I know why I’m angry. I’m angry that the other woman is still attempting to insinuate herself into my life. I’m angry that my husband is NOW working to heal our marriage – things that I asked him to do twenty months ago when it would have prevented twenty months of pain and confusion. Unfortunately, recognizing the problem does not help me handle it. After a couple of weeks of attempting to work through this on my own without success, I decided that, since I am 50, it must be menopause. I searched for menopause symptoms online, and sure enough, mood swings are a part of hormonal change, so suddenly life made more sense.
So, off I went to my doctor earlier this week. He is a lovely man with a very relaxed manner who has managed my daughter’s continual medical disasters with a deft mixture of reassurance and information overload. The more questions we ask the happier he is. I knew he would be delighted to advise me about the changes I could expect, the steps I needed to take to stay healthy, and how I could best manage my feelings. He took a complete history, looked at my most recent lab results, asked a few more questions, and then earnestly recommended martial arts.
I almost fell out of my chair, and then burst out laughing. As it turns out, he was actually serious. I am not in menopause or even perimenopause. He is aware of the infidelity, since his office performed the STD testing last summer. He went on to explain that I am angry because I am in a difficult situation through no fault of my own – a situation that I cannot fix. Even divorce would not “fix” the way I feel. He recognized clearly the anger I was feeling and the impact it was having on me. He went on to say that he felt strongly that it was necessary for me to find an outlet for my anger instead of burying it.
I was aware that he had divorced his wife last year, and that it had been complicated because she was not only his wife and the mother of his two children, but also his partner in a flourishing medical practice. When the divorce was final, he moved his medical practice to the other side of town, and my family moved with him. It all seemed very civilized. He went on to say, however, that the divorce had been very difficult, and managing his anger would have required massive doses of Lexapro if he had not been doing Taekwondo. He went on to say that he is actually not as good as he was at this time last year because his anger has dissipated.
So, when I left his office he gave me a prescription for a mild antidepressant to get me over the hump in dealing with the anger, and he extracted a promise that I would immediately begin some form of vigorous exercise, preferably a form of martial arts since the combination of discipline and controlled violence would be most beneficial.
Honestly, just the image of me in the belted tunic and pants, attempting to kick over my head made me laugh out loud, so I left his office feeling better than I have in weeks. I am a pudgy 50 year old bookworm whose idea of enjoyable exercise is antique shopping. I followed up the visit with lunch with my best friend, who has known me and my habits for 20 years. When I told her the story, the level of laughter that ensued should have resulted in our removal from the restaurant.
She then went home and told the stress and exercise story to her black belt husband (who also found it hilarious), and was overheard by her 14 year old son, who promptly posted the following message on my Facebook page:
- R G You might not be able to physically kick somebody in the head, but you would learn forms, stretches, punches and blocks. you would also learn some simple techniques to disable an attacker with a very small amount of energy. It would be good exercise, and you would learn how to defend yourself. I think you should do it. 1 person likes this
While I appreciated the advice and his earnest tone, it led to other comments.
- T K .Just picture trying to kick somebody else in the head, it’s very relaxing.
- P B There isn’t an aggressive bone in your body. ha ha!1 person likes this.
- T K it’s awesome. and don’t listen to RG, you can kick somebody in the head if you want to. 😉 No, listen to him or you’ll pull muscles in very unpleasant places!
- T KI can still kick somebody in the head, for what it’s worth.
- R G I think it is a good idea, but it is your decision. 1 person likes this.
- R G I believe after some training you could kick someone in the head. Just make sure you are limbered up, I have made the mistake of not doing that before.
- T K yeah, it’s no fun to pull those muscles
- ME OK, I actually laughed out loud sitting alone in my office…I hope no one heard me 🙂 1 person likes this.
- P H Maybe we can enter you in a UFC fight. I’d pay to see that. 🙂 1 person likes this.
- PB I would drive MILES to see that! 1 person likes this.
OK – how could I hold on to stress when my friends, their children, and former students were so entertained with the idea of me engaged in martial arts? I went home felling calmer than I had in days, turned on the news and almost choked on my iced tea. One of the lead stories concerned the opening of a Twitter account by the Papacy. Yes, the Pope tweets. Not only that, but the news clip showed Benedict XVI holding his IPad and posting a tweet. My world actually shifted for a moment.
My stress level is currently GREATLY reduced – if the mental image of me engaged in martial arts is not enough to induce laughter, the image of the leader of one of the most reactionary organizations in the world, God’s representative on earth, tweeting is enough to do so. Of course, in my head the tweeting pope is Innocent III or Gregory VII.