Monday, August 8, 2011

Releasing Toxic Anger

When we lived in San Francisco we had one car. It was more of a hindrance, and extremely expensive, to have another. We would joke that the apartment came free with the fee for the parking space, it was so outlandish. If you ever actually drove that car anywhere you wanted to, you know, stop and get out, lets say, parking was a nightmare. Unless your fancy apartment had a spacious parking garage and the business you worked for provided he same luxury as well, your bumper was a dented, dinged, scraped up mess. Everyone accepted it, that was just the way it was. Or you took cabs. Obviously there was a significant amount of car-sharing that went on between my husband and I. On his birthday a few years back he came home from work for lunch, picked me up and we headed out to grab a celebratory bite before handing the car over to my errands for the afternoon. As we drove through our little residential neighborhood towards our destination we stopped at a very familiar 4-way stop. He stopped, it was clear, then went. BAM! A car plows into our SUV square on the drivers side. He came from nowhere! He did not even stop at his stop sign! He was going too fast! Long and very infuriating story later that very dishonest liar said we ran the stop sign and hit him. So both of the insurance companies labeled it not determinable based on evidence. Therefore it was ruled, and it went on both their records. Oh the anger I felt, as I struggled to repair my body after a car accident with Fibromyalgia. In the wet cold achy-hollow bones of a rainy California bay area winter. Wow, that one took a long time to let go of, the anger and resentment driving me to infuriating breakdowns. For what that man did was so wrong, and I was too sick to do anything about it. I could hardly get myself to work 4 days a week. There was no way I was battling with insurance companies and unreachable witnesses. So where was I to put all this anger? What was I to do?

Ironically enough, right around this time, I received a perplexing phone call one Saturday morning. It was from a collection agency informing me that although I had been making regular monthly payments on a bill for a previous hospitalization, the hospital had turned my debt over to collections and it was going to show up on my credit unless I paid them in full within 5 business days. $2,000.00. I was shocked, jaw to the floor, as I struggled to comprehend how I had been sent to collections with absolutely NO notification and while I was making regular monthly payments! The fury was blinding, the rage outrageous. I wrote appeal after appeal to the hospital, the board, threatened to report them to the AMA, all to no avail. Everyone I bitched and complained about this to told me what the hospital had done was illegal. But short of hiring an attorney and going to court, there was nothing I could do. And considering I could not even pay this hospital bill, fighting in the court of law over the principal of the injustice was not a luxury I could afford. My options were to charge up my credit card or take the hit on my credit report.

But what both these incidents did to me was beyond compare. I was so angry I could not even see straight. I was such a victim! This was ridiculous! Here I was sick as a dog, my husband working himself to the bone in pure survival mode, and being smacked around randomly by the big giant powers that be. Eventually my anger made me much sicker, and I had to get a grip. I had to make a decision. Were all the little bits of crap in life, that make up life, going to be the end of me? How much more power was I going to give all this anger and resentment? So I worked very hard to get to a place where I could let this go. No, I was not admitting that what happened to me was fair or right, just that it was out of my control and that was simply the way it was. And my life was worth a lot more than the sum of a dishonest driver and corrupt hospital. There are many components that were critical to getting on top of my Fibromyalgia. I believe healing, and the subsequent reclamation of my life, could not begin until I learned the power of forgiveness. Once I was old enough or mature enough or experienced enough or whatever enough to objectively look at my life, examine the stress, it was profound. Most of us, well all of us with Fibromyalgia at least, have been damaged in some way so severely it has altered the response activity of your entire body, for it grabs hold of the central nervous system. Your control center. And if you expect any kind of improvement or recovery, I believe that tightly bound onion called Fibromyalgia has to be peeled back one layer at a time, until it is exposed and you are in control again. And at least for me, a chunk of that onion was unforgiveness of past emotional traumas. It was not so much about forgiving the other person, but releasing the anger from what happened to me as a result of their action. All of this junk had a very strong hold on me. And it was all in the past. A place where I could do nothing but learn from it and move on. So I did that. I learned how to assess a situation, see where my control lied, and release the power the rest of it had over me. Most of the time. But in all honesty I do have to admit, I frequently think about the man that hit us, and wonder how his karma got him.

Thanks for joining,


  1. Leah,

    Oh, that makes me so mad!!! What a dishonest jerk that guy that hit you was and that is so wrong what that hospital did. I hope someone else with more resources found an attorney and sued the crap out of both of them.

    Like you say, it's far harder on those of us with fibro to hold onto anger in that way because our central nervous systems are already so damaged. I commend you for being able to let it go because I struggle with that on a daily basis. It is hard not to hold onto anger when you have been wronged. And to not want revenge! I am still working on this skill, but I tell my youngest son, who also struggles with his anger, that it hurts him far more than it hurts anyone else to be angry.

    As usual, fantastic post!


  2. Leah,

    I'm a mother of four with my husband as the only bread winner in the home. My SS is a joke but I'm grateful I have something. Unfortunately with so many medical bills I never have money to pay hospital or doctor bills as they should be paid. So I'm a regular at many collection agencies. It's extremely frustrating, embarrasing. Makes you just feel more like a failure then we already do. (On our bad days.)