We were discussing her sudden weight loss. Fourty pounds since her last visit just five months before. Very few patients lose significant amounts of weight like that without something else almost catastrophic going on in the background.
A death. A divorce. An affair. Zombie apocalypse. Or chemotherapy.
For her, I knew it wasn’t chemotherapy. I was pretty sure no zombies were involved, either.
In her case, she told me, it had been her husband. He had died four months before from a massive heart attack, collapsed at the dinner table over a plate of her roast beef.
“I loved him. He could make me so angry. He made me terribly happy. He made me feel things. My first husband never did that. We never fought. Ever. We were good friends who enjoyed hanging out but we were never lovers in the full sense of the word.”
That comment struck me and I have been mulling it over ever since.
Is it possible that we as humans do not crave peace so much as we desire to feel alive?
To feel things.
Relationship dynamics fascinate me.
I have had occasion to consider that more this past week.
Growing up I witnessed the bull in the china shop kind of rage in my house. My father, mad at the slide projector, would lob it across the room to shatter on the floor. He broke a coffee table once right down the center. I see that in myself only I don’t throw things. I throw words. Words are my violence. I can use them to hurt you more than my fists ever could. You hurt me or someone I care about, I will lash out until the fire burns down and I can finally stamp it out.
The thing about anger and fighting is that when it is someone whom you care about, their opinion matters on a level so much higher than anyone else’s.
A patient can tell me my breath stinks and duck their head and I can laugh it off and move on after a breath mint. If my lover were to say the same thing in the same way, perhaps in the context of explaining why he did not want to kiss me right then, it might dig itself into my heart and lodge there like broken piece of glass. It would mean so much more coming from him.
There is so much power there. Power to tear down and hurt and destroy. How can you contain that? How do you have enough conflict to feel alive without burning down the house while you are at it?
I watch my daughter’s rages and see myself mirrored there as she is flailing about, kicking, hitting, and scratching anything that gets too close to her.
Oh, baby girl.
I am afraid she is going to hurt herself if I cannot teach her how to control her emotions. I pray every day that she finds someone who loves her enough to have the strength to stand up to her onslaught.
Meanwhile, I continue to work to recognize my own shortcomings….