What’s in Your Frame?

DSC00383I am fed up, frustrated, and so angry that I want to rip the skin off the face of our planet Earth  and pummel what is underneath with my bare hands.   Don’t tell me, “Oh, Barbara, don’t be so upset, it’s not that bad.”  Or, “There are billions of people in the world worse off than you. You’re lucky by comparison.”  No pity parties for me either, please.  And don’t tell me that talking about my anger is a bad thing, that I should keep it to myself.

I am totally pissed.  The worst part is that there’s no one who legitimately deserves my anger at whom I could feel righteous in directing it.  Being angry at life in general does me no good. And I am pissed about that, too.

But anger left inside untreated festers and, like sepsis, destroys life. It poisons the soul, spreads to other people, or causes the one with it to numb out all emotions so as not to feel the anger, leading to depression and paralysis.  I don’t want to explode.  I don’t like being numb.  Some days I just want to give up but I don’t even know what giving up would look like.  So, I damned well better figure out what to do with this bubbling rage or find some answer that will change my life.

Why am I so angry? Because another straw landed on this camel’s back.  I am sick (pun intended) of dealing with an increasing number of health problems.  First heart, then lungs, then smog sensitivity.  That was bad enough.  Now I also have adrenal insufficiency (diagnosed one year ago), periodic vertigo (probably BPPV but diagnosis still pending); and cascading chemical sensitivity (probably triggered by exposure to toxic mold a few years ago and exasperated by air pollution).  I bought a cane last week to help me walk safely, I am not driving until I can again walk in a straight line. I am detoxifying my house.  Beam me up, Scottie.  I am ready to scream.

In Markings, his journal published posthumously, Dag Hammarskjöld’s writes,  “We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny.  But what we put into it is ours.  He [sic] who wills adventure will experience it — according to the measure of his courage.  He who wills sacrifice will be sacrificed — according to the measure of his purity of heart.”

Riotous flower gardenI am not living the frame I would choose, but it is the one I have.  I can usually fill it with resilience, love, strength, goodness, courage, joy, faith, and sometimes even inspiration for others.  I can’t get rid of the health problems that comprise my frame, but I can choose how to live with them. Right now the colors of my palette are gray and muddy brown.  But I am trying — really hard — to clear away the layers of anger, frustration and impotence so I can paint again with the yellow, orange, purple and green of a new day.  I will fill my frame again with joy and love, laughter and hope, and goodness beyond myself,

17 thoughts on “What’s in Your Frame?

  1. Judy

    Barbara, you wrote this in Oct. and here it is March, and I would give anything if there were something I could do for you. I’ve had a lot of junk in my frame since early Dec., but nothing like what you’re going through. I pray blessing upon blessing for you. God must have a plan, doesn’t She??? I pray that you have a Holy and blessed Lent and that you know you are loved. Love, Judy


  2. Anonymous

    Hi Barbara,

    I read two of your blog posts (the one where you walked around the Rose Bowl for the first time in a long while and this one) just before I ran the LA Marathon last Sunday. I had you on my mind during all 26.2 miles. Below is my race recap from Facebook. You’ll need to accept my Facebook friend request to see the ribbon mentioned in my write up or send me your email address. I think I have your postal address so that I can mail you the ribbon.

    My Garmin watch data vs official race result. You’ll notice that there is a 5 min 19 sec difference in the finishing time. Why? I paused my Garmin when I had to use a porta potty around mile 13/14. Made the stupid mistake of passing an empty bank of porta potties just after my friend dropped me and a friend off at Dodger Stadium. Then tried frantically to look for one in the gear check area and in the stadium just as security shut the doors. Gave up because I left my gear behind with another friend. Then I had the stupid combination of feeling happy that I was relieved after the porta potty stop and the beginning of calf cramps. Thank you Mile 20 Pasadena Pacer tent for cramp relieving spray and everything else!
    The final six miles consisted of a weird mix of being unable to push myself to run faster and the competing scream to run happy. The calming presence was the little ribbon I wore. On it I wrote the name of Dr. Barbara Anderson who served as a pastor at my church. She was forced into retirement at a young age due to congestive heart failure. She wrote two blog posts that left an impression on me. An earlier post was about her walking a loop around the Rose Bowl again after not being able to do so for a long time and a recent post about some health setbacks (see link at the end of the post).
    For months I have obsessed over chasing a new record of finishing the LA Marathon in 4 hours and 30 minutes. It was all I could think about until I read these two posts and realized that I’m lucky that I have the health to do something as simple to me as walking around the Rose Bowl. I had a nasty case of bronchitis that threw off my training in January and it was hard coming back. However, Barbara lives with a new normal filled with challenges that she handles with self-awareness, humor, and humanity. When the internal screams got loud, I put my hand over the ribbon and chanted her name to match my steps to quiet the screams. Then I could run with clarity and give whatever I had left for her. I’d like to give her the ribbon (after I’ve washed it of course) as a small way to exchange the grays and browns inhabiting her frame.

    I hope that you are feeling much better since this post. Your writing fills my frame with so many colors and textures, and I can only hope to do a little something to give you some of that back.

    Karen L.



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