Easy to Be Hard

This afternoon, I finished reading Brian Wilson’s memoir: I Am Brian Wilson.

It’s great. He writes so honestly, so simply, and, at times, beautifully, delightfully and/or whimsically.

I burst out crying when he began the chapter about his dad. If you know Brian Wilson’s story, you know his dad was, at times, cruel and violent. What made me cry was not the abuse, which I’ve long been familiar with, but the way Brian approached that particular part of the narrative. He is such a gentle soul and took great pains to paint a balanced and just portrait of his dad. He talked about how if it weren’t for his father pushing the band to be excellent, they might not have achieved what they did when they did. That kind of thing. He said his father was abused also. He tries to understand him and remember the good times, too, however few they were.

It breaks my heart, in a good way, when people find a way to transcend the terrible things that happen to them. It is easy to hate, easy to be hard.

I was hard for a lot of years. It felt right and justified to harbor so much anger. It almost felt like I was accomplishing something. The overwhelming feeling of rage made me feel like I’d somehow taken back the power taken from me. It gave me the illusion of incredible strength and control and I needed to feel strong and in control. That’s human enough, but I nurtured the rage and ultimately that undermined whatever fragile quality of life I had.

It’s natural to feel rage after certain kinds of trauma. I’d have been nuts if I weren’t angry in response.

I tried to understand, too. I even tried to find a way to make it so that the bad stuff didn’t actually happen, which, of course, was impossible—but in the beginning it was preferable to think I was wrong or mistaken or at fault.

I wasn’t.

Anger was a healthy response to what happened to me. It was important I feel it and didn’t block the sensation. But I’m glad I was ultimately able to release the anger safely. Well, most of the time it came out safely. I didn’t kill anyone and I didn’t kill myself.


Today and yesterday, my eyes hurt. I know that means I need to cry, but—at the risk of repeating myself ad nauseum–I’m tired of crying.

Years ago, tears dissolved the crippling physical pain that emerged after I got off the PTSD meds. (See my book PTSD: Frozen in Time.) There was so much trauma energy and emotional energy buried in my body.

I know the healing tears can bring, but it is just so not fun.

I feel I’ve cried enough. I’ve gone over my quota. I’d like a surrogate to do my crying now.

Here’s a big miracle though. As I wrote in my book (and in the short-read Startle: A True Story of PTSD and the Paranormal), I met Jack when I had a nervous breakdown. I remember the despair I felt every time I woke. I’d literally experience a vertical drop in my stomach as if I were on an elevator that suddenly fell twenty floors. I’d known despair most of my life, but the nervous breakdown pulled out all the stops. It was like a Despair Extravaganza! I can joke about it now, but it was the most frightening experience of my adult life.

With a background of depression and despair, I expected I’d have that kind of feeling after Jack died–the soul sickness, the emotional nausea, the big drop when I’d wake. I thought I’d have another long, slow, uncertain crawl out darkness.

To my shock, I’ve found that, except for terrible grief the first few weeks, nothing like that is there.

I’m sad. I miss him.

But I’m on an even keel.

Healing is possible. Never, never, never give up.