Writing gets this ‘stuff’ out of my head. It also helps me to process what I’m feeling and forces me to acknowledge it. It makes me accountable for my emotions.

I started watching Dead to Me, this brilliant, I want to cry, now I’m laughing, show when it first came out. They had me with the scene of Karen dropping off her ‘take on Mexican Lasagna.’ Jen’s bluntness in how she navigates her grief was shocking. And felt so good. People can say the dumbest things and she said so much of what I’ve been thinking.

I watched the first 2 seasons, but when it came time for season 3, I couldn’t. It was dark. And I had completely forgotten what happened in the first 2 seasons. So I roped the husband into watching it with me from the beginning. I had forgotten how brilliant (and dark) this show was. Christina Applegate does an incredible job of portraying someone navigating grief, while parenting, while working, while just trying to survive.

We were watching the show and I told my husband that Jen (Christina Applegate) is my spirit animal. She’s flawed, raw and honest. But she keeps her edge. She’s also very angry. The more I watched the show, the more I saw her use anger and sarcasm to try to cover the hurt. She cannot be sad. She cannot be vulnerable. She has to hold everyone together.

I relate to her character so much. But it’s hard to watch. Because I can see myself in parts of her. Not the parts where she kills people, but the using anger as a defense mechanism part. And I don’t like it.

Why is it so much easier to access the anger? I know what it’s covering, it’s not fooling me. But it’s my go to emotion. I’m hoping that by acknowledging it, I can move towards change. Because I need to realize that being vulnerable isn’t a bad thing.

Somewhere along the line I equated vulnerable to weak. I’m pretty sure it came from after my Mom died and my Dad fell apart. I so desperately needed a parent and he couldn’t handle it. He was a sobbing, drunken mess after my Mom died. I hated it. Because I think deep down I felt like I had to be the strong one. I had to be okay enough for everyone. I had to make everything ok enough so that I could make it through. That’s a lot to carry at 16. And I resented it.

I have a different perspective now on things. I’ve had to grieve with my children. I haven’t lost a spouse, so I don’t know what my father was going through. My forty something self has a little more empathy than my 16 year old self did. But I’m still angry.

My word for last year was grace. And it’s still something I’m learning to work through. I want 2023 to be about accessing my vulnerability instead of just my anger. I want to feel the emotions that my anger is covering up. I want to look at being vulnerable as a gift instead of a weakness. And if I’m still angry, that’s ok too. I just don’t want to use my anger as a go to to cover up what I’m really feeling. Because I won’t get through any of this by not being honest with myself.

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