You will all be right.
At the conference, during a carrier workshop, I listened to Dr. Randi Hagerman talk about the many symptoms that carriers have in common. It was an eye opening session. It was a relief to know that these things that I’ve thought were just in my head are real and, more importantly, there is a reason for them. A reason that is not…me being a hypochondriac or me just simply being weak. It was also, to be honest, a bit terrifying to think of the possibilities that lay before me.
There are so many physical and mental symptoms that seem to come hand in hand with a status as a fragile X carrier, it’s overwhelming. It’s also frightening to think that these things, that may come to steal away the comfort of my body and mind, are not within my control…they are within my DNA. I don’t like not being in control1.
After the initial helpless feeling, I decided I needed to focus on what I can control. Specifically, there is one thing I know I can improve and I know that improving this will help even should the worst come about in the future. I can reduce my stress. Stress=cortisol in your brain and cortisol in your brain is toxic. It destroys brain cells, it destroys the building blocks that make me…me.
No, I cannot eliminate stress…life is stressful for everyone…life is extra stressful for those of us with children with special needs…but I can do better. I began thinking about the major stressors in my life…my job, uncertainty and fear over Caleb’s future (both short and long term) were the first obvious two that came to mind. I can do something about some of that and I’ve already taken a major step in one of those areas. I could feel some of the tension leaving my body when I realized I was doing what I could, I was succeeding already.
Then, as always happens with me, I got greedy. I started thinking about other stressors in my life. The ones that don’t occupy a lot of my time or thoughts but flair up suddenly, unexpectedly. The medical tests I should have done but am putting off, for example, will cross my mind and I can feel the adrenaline (another stress related hormone) course through my body and for a few hours I’ll be thinking about all the ways I might die because I’m too scared to make the appointments I need to make (I’m not going to die, promise, but my imagination gets carried away at times!).
Another one of those sudden, unexpected stressors is anger.
Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. — Mark Twain
Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. — Buddha
We all get angry, some of us forgive easily and others forgive eventually. Depending on the transgression…I fit into both categories. There are times that a quick apology erases any hurt. There are times when an apology and time are needed to accomplish the same.
There is a special category, however, for those who have hurt people I love. For those who have taken advantage of people who were emotionally or physically vulnerable. Also, especially, for people who repeatedly do both of those things. This is where I am struggling. I cannot forgive people who have hurt the people I love. I cannot forgive a hurt that was not done to me directly, it’s simply not my hurt to forgive and my anger is deeper…it’s rooted in my heart.
I have been reading quotes and doing an awful lot of thinking over the last week about this and I simply cannot come to any conclusion. I am harboring anger that I don’t want. I understand that I am doing emotional and physical damage to myself…but I cannot forgive them. Is it possible to lose the anger without forgiving? Not so far for me.
So, I’ll keep thinking. I’ll keep working at it. I’ll keep looking for the answer I hope to find.
And, in the meantime…
When angry, count to four; when very angry, swear. — Mark Twain
- I think this too might be a carrier trait! [↩]