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Let Me Be Mad

159. Let Me Be Mad

I’ve learned that there are times when I need to be angry. And there are times when other people need to be angry too.

When I worked in the nursing home as a music therapist, there was a man whose father had been there about a week. I saw him leaving his father’s room and shaking his head, and I asked if I could help with anything. He said, “Well, Dad is just so angry–I didn’t expect it. I came today with this idea that we’d buy a lottery ticket every week and then watch the TV when they announced the numbers, and I thought it would be just a fun, crazy thing to do together. Well, I just told him the idea and he almost shouted at me that no, he didn’t want to do that, that was just dumb. And shouting at me—well it’s really just not like him.”

I said, “You know your Dad hasn’t been here very long, and this part of his journey is maybe not what he had in mind. And he’s a little angry. And now he’s got people helping to care for him and he doesn’t want to vent his anger at them, because he needs them. But he can vent his anger at you, because you’re safe—and you’ll still love him.” The son was quiet for a minute and then said, “You know I never thought of it that way. O.K. we’ll just see how this all goes and if he needs to be mad at me, that’s alright too.”

So as his Dad settled into life at the nursing home, the Dad was able to shift out of the anger, and they even did a weekly lottery together.

When my oldest daughter was seven or eight, one of her chores was to take the garbage out. One day I reminded her and she said “O.K. I’ll do it,” but then didn’t. So a little later I reminded again, and she stomped off to get the garbage. She made a huge ruckus dragging it out, lots of noise and fussing on her part. And I said, “Hey can you change how you’re doing that so it’s not so angry?” And she shouted back, “I’m DOING IT, but I don’t have to be happy about it. Just LET ME BE MAD !

And occasionally that’s what I say—Just Let Me Be Mad !

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