Jenni Brooks 6th December 2018
My train was two hours delayed and I hadn’t eaten since 5pm the night before. I was cold, hungry and getting increasingly irritated that I wasn’t going to get to see my best friend on time. Usually, this wouldn’t be a big deal. We could rearrange and do something the week after that was more fun than sitting by her hospital bed and watching her nap. The only trouble with that was I didn’t know whether or not her transplanted lungs could wait until then, because she had been diagnosed with lung rejection the day before.
Luckily for us, it could have been a lot worse. After three doses of methylprednisolone — a steroid treatment used to treat acute rejection — she was fine. But the scary thing about a serious illness is that overnight, everything can change. New symptoms can come out of nowhere and it’s impossible to predict when it’s going to happen. This can be jarring not just for the sufferer, but for the people who love them as well. Yet instead of locking myself in the toilet and crying like I usually do, I got mad. It was so unfair that my train wasn’t going to get me there on time, and it was even more unfair that she was so ill. So I went to the café and ordered a chicken sandwich, which I tore through with my canines like a caveman.
I’m not an angry person. I’m usually irritatingly calm, which has always been my blessing and my curse. A lot of people in my life face unimaginable pain every single day, whether that is because of a trauma they’ve experienced or a chronic health problem, and I’m honoured that they feel like I’m the type of person they can vent to. I guess it’s because I don’t seem to flinch during a crisis. However, this also means that I often get problems dumped on me and I am unable vent about them in the same way. Most of the time, I don’t mind. I can be as strong and as calm as they need me to be. But sometimes, especially when it comes out of nowhere, it winds me.
Emotions are complicated and difficult to control, and no one can be 100% in control of themselves at all times.
It should also be noted that I have been vegetarian for over five years, and I rarely get tempted to eat meat. I don’t judge people who do eat meat, but the thought of eating it usually repulses me, as I can’t get the face of the animal out of my head. That being said, the day that my train was delayed and I had the choice of getting a cheese or a chicken sandwich, I went with the latter just because I needed to tear my teeth into something grisly.
To be honest, I could have done a lot worse than eat a chicken sandwich. To some people, it isn’t a bad thing at all; just a staple part of their diet. But even though it wasn’t illegal or anything, once I’d calmed down I was disappointed in how easy it was for my morals to sway. I’ve always been very sure of myself and have always been led by what I think is right for me. Then suddenly I wasn’t.
Anger isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes it’s completely appropriate, especially if someone has yelled you for something that isn’t your fault, or a chair got in the way of your toe when you slammed into it. As long as you’re not hurting anyone, anger can help distract you from the pain, until you’re ready to let go of it.
But it can become a problem if you either hold onto it for too long or you don’t let yourself feel it at all. If you’re like me, and you consistently let people burden you with their problems, but have no way of letting them go, you’re just going to carry them around with you until they’re too heavy to carry. This can make you do things. It can make you compromise your principles and you will regret it later.
That being said, as long as you do your best to listen to yourself and your emotions and deal with them in healthy ways, you shouldn’t beat yourself up for making mistakes. Emotions are complicated and difficult to control, and no one can be 100% in control of themselves at all times.
I’ve not eaten meat since, and have since found better coping strategies. Hitting pillows helps. But I’m not disappointed in myself anymore. Sometimes the hardest part in letting go of anger is forgiving ourselves for letting our emotions take over, which is something I’m still learning to do.
Jenni Brooks 6th December 2018