To dance with anger, Part 1 of 3


It’s taken me a long time to come up with the courage to write and publish this post about rage.  It’s sort of turned into a monster.  I’m amazed that there’s so much STUFF I’ve been carrying around about suppressed anger.  The whole mess is complex and long, so it’ll be split into three parts.   I started out thinking about how I’ve always categorized the loss of my temper as a failure.  Big surprise… thanks, Senior Fuckholio.   I’ve carried around the shame of those “failures” for many, many years.  It was NEVER okay for me to experience my own anger as a young person.  It was certainly never acceptable to express the rage that resulted from stuffing those angry feelings for all those years.  I created a monster inside my own head while I did what I was expected to do.  I was expected not only to tolerate the rage of others, but to somehow be responsible for it.  If someone was pissed off and having a temper tantrum, it was because I did something wrong.

I’ve always had an overblown sense of personal responsibility for the anger of others.  Angry people have ALWAYS terrified me, probably because my own rage has terrified me.  Whenever I lost my temper, I treated the incident like a dirty little secret afterwards.  I either denied it or became overly repentant, almost groveling at the feet of the other person, regardless of whether my anger was appropriate or not.  This is probably because I never thought I had a right to my own feelings, especially the “bad” ones.    I’ve always cowered before the rage of another human being while denying that I had that level of rage inside my own heart.  I’ve responded to other people’s anger by cracking jokes, changing the subject, becoming overly agreeable, shutting down, or running away.   None of these actions ever got me nominated Poster Child of Appropriate Emotional Expression.  Until recently, I either lost my cool or shoved my anger inside.  I didn’t know any other way.

Most people in my life today would never associate the things I’m going to talk about with the person I am today.  I’ve led a double life of sorts, and few of the people I love have been introduced to Fred the Mosher in person.

Fred my red-headed stepchild.  I’ve disowned him, denied him, and tried to make him leave.  I’ve been ashamed of the times Fred burst out of his chains and unleashed himself all over some unsuspecting soul.  I’ve also been ashamed of the shitty things I have done and said while under Fred’s influence.  I ALWAYS regret it when Fred opens his mouth, because Fred is Mr. Inappropriate Rage.  Mustering the fortitude to deal with what I consider to be the most repugnant and unforgivable instances of my life has made way for some incredible healing.  Hold onto your ass, because here it comes!

I’m writing about Fred because getting to know Fred has allowed me to enter a whole new level of self-forgiveness.  Fred is one angry dude.  Big, bald, loud, and strong.  He’s a badass.  I’ve historically kept a pretty short leash on him, because full frontal Fred scares the living shit out of me.  When Fred emerges, I’ve lost any semblance of control over whatever situation I’m in.  Fred is my inner rage-a-holic.  He FEEDS on that energy, and it makes him stronger.  He’s scary.  He rants and raves and breaks shit.  He’s named after Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit.  One of my “go to” songs to listen to (at top volume) after an extremely long and frustrating day is “Break Stuff.”  Songs like this one tend to drain that Fred energy out of me, making the world safe for another day.  And some of the lyrics describe him perfectly:

“It’s just one of those days
Feelin’ like a freight train
First one to complain
Leaves with a blood stain
Damn right I’m a maniac
You better watch your back
Cuz I’m fuckin’ up your program…”

Heavy metal is Fred’s kind of music.  The louder, the better.  The darker the lyrics, the better.  Fred’s obsessed with bands like Disturbed and Tool.  Fred is NOT a happy go-lucky guy.  He never says “please” or “thank you.”  He will fuck with someone pre-emptively before they fuck with him.  He calculates how to keep the upper hand, taking what he wants.  Bullying others is a game.  He intimidates in order to stay powerful and uses the fear of others to feed his own ego.  Fred’s a rude asshole.  He’s a criminal with no morals or limits.  He thinks he can do whatever he pleases without any consequences.  He denies that those consequences affect him in any way.  He’s the tattooed ex-con who is hardened beyond belief.  He will bluff and bluster and bullshit his way out of confrontation, threatening violence if he needs to.  He’s a freakin psychopath.  Imagine a two-year old child throwing temper tantrums in the body of one of those steroid-infested superjocks.  His energy is huge and dark.

And it is VERY hard for me to admit that Fred is a part of me.  To admit that I have the capacity to go batshit crazy and momentarily lose my mind in a red fog of rage.  And in that moment, terrible things can and have happened.  It takes a lot for me to get to that place, but I CAN get there.  Fred stepped up more often during my days of drinking and drug use.  I couldn’t control him very well when I was blitzed out on god knows what combination of illicit substances.  I used to get into drunken arguments that occasionally escalated into violent behavior.  (Note to self:  breaking  a beer bottle against a parking meter to defend yourself in a fight NEVER works like it does in the movies.  You’ll only end up cutting yourself and then laugh like a lunatic.  That unhinged laughter and the sight of your blood will scare the person you are trying to intimidate more than if you cut THEM with the bottle.  But you’ll be the one with the scar. Learn from my fail.)   When I was sober, I was too busy being  a “good girl” to balance out my occasional not-so-stellar behavior.  The face I presented to most people was not the face of Fred; it was Goodie Bitchface.  A real Jekyll and Hyde kinda deal.

I truly understand how people can go to the lengths they do when they commit crimes against other people- assault, rape,  or murder.  I understand losing your temper and crossing the line with a weaker being- a child or an animal.  I don’t agree that any of these actions are EVER appropriate, but I comprehend those impulses on a soul level.  I know we all have this capability inside us.  I know first hand how an otherwise mild-mannered, loving person might act on those impulses.  After getting to know Fred and being honest with myself, I have a whole new level of empathy for crimes of passion.   And for myself.  Repressed anger that turns into rage is part of the human condition. 

It took a few years of active addiction before I learned that using cocaine allowed Fred to stand front and center and do some extremely crazy things.  You see, Fred was the one who broke that beer bottle against that parking meter in 1980 during my one and only drunken “bar fight.”  That fight consisted of me cutting myself after a lot of yelling and then going home to look for band aids.  Fred was also the one who automatically cold-cocked that redneck, knocking him to the floor unconscious after he called one of my friends a cunt in 1981.  It was Fred who reacted, sputtering and cursing and swinging, when my one and only physically abusive boyfriend put his hands on me in 1985.  That guy locked me in the bathroom for 45 minutes to protect himself until I could get control of Fred’s rage.   And Fred once plotted to shoot another one of my exes in 1987.  Had it planned and was ready to go through with it.  Cold, calculating, and regardless of consequences.   The stars aligned to protect me from myself that night;  I wasn’t able to get my hands on a firearm.    I am eternally grateful that I was able to clip Fred’s leash back on, but he wasn’t completely under control.  Fred exacted revenge by collecting all the clothes the ex left in my apartment, piling them up in the courtyard of the complex, dousing them with lighter fluid and setting them on fire.  In the rain.  Fred was finally appeased and went silent for a while.  

After I stopped using drugs in 1991, I had a higher level of toleration for frustration.  I didn’t act batshit crazy at the drop of a hat anymore.  Fred’s special appearances became fewer and far between.  Fred’s most recent appearance happened about 4 months ago.  This was the incident that led me to confront him, get to know him, and make some decisions about my own behavior.  To set some limits with Fred about what I was never going to do again.

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~ by dancingwiththeshadow on May 24, 2011.

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