To dance with anger, Part 2 of 3….


It took even longer to add this installment, and I partially blame my extreme distaste for technology.  It seems I managed to save the draft of my post on a thumb drive as a document type that’s not compatible with either my laptop or desktop. How, you ask?  No clue.  Such things are REALLY not in my bag of tricks.  I would rather there be one universal file type all the time for everything.  Keep it simple, ya know? 

Okay, so Fred was temporarily caged when I stopped drinking.  I stopped acting against others when angry; I was able to control it when I wasn’t all messed up.  I grew up a lot in early sobriety (being the emotional equivalent of a teenager in your early 30’s was interesting).  The only times Fred surfaced were in moments of extreme self loathing when I would turn that anger on myself.  Normally, these attacks were verbal in the form of really, really abusive self talk.  It wasn’t a perfect solution, but it felt a little more sane.   Fred’s crazy.  I didn’t LIKE being mean to myself, but it was comfortingly familiar.  Better than outwardly acting like a crazy person. 

So, a few months ago, anger and frustration once again built up inside me about my job and life in general.  I was struggling emotionally and pretending I was FINE (a common pattern for me).  Not sharing any of my feelings with anyone.  Not venting off that steam.  I wasn’t sleeping, and I was irritated and short-tempered.  My disposition was foul.  My mood was very, very dark.  Scary dark. Defcon 4 dark.  When I’m in that place, it only takes one insignificant incident to push me over the edge.  The straw that breaks the camel’s back.  My 7 month old puppy pissed me off, and that cracked the weakened walls of Fred’s inner prison enough to free him, gibbering and foaming at the mouth.    For the life of me, I can’t even remember what the dog did. 

I absolutely lost it.  I literally saw red; I do remember that.  I didn’t hit this gentle creature that I truly love with all my heart, but I did scream at her.   I can be pretty loud and intimidating when I get in that place.  I gripped the loose skin at the sides of her neck while I yelled in her face.  Fred the Mosher, front and center.  The dog, of course, was trying to get away from this crazy bitch who wouldn’t let go of her .  She wiggled and thrashed her 50 pound body, eyes wide and scared.  I held on.   In that crimson flush of rage, I lost my temper and dumped all my stress onto an innocent, loving animal.  She was terrified, and I was absolutely convinced in that moment that she should calm down, stop trying to escape,  and  willingly absorb my rage.  It made perfect sense to me in that split moment.  Fred is a callous, narcissistic moron.   

I held on to that pup hard enough to break something in both of my hands. 

As she bucked and twisted, it took a few minutes for the voice of reason inside my head to get my attention by hollering  “What the FUCK are you DOING?!?!?!?”   I immediately let the dog go.  I was absolutely horrified.   I put my hands on an animal that I love in anger.   I started sobbing uncontrollably the sobs of an inconsolable heartbroken child, high and keening.  Disgusted by my actions.  The inner jury deemed this whole mess absolutely unforgivable. 

Once Fred made his brief but powerful appearance and siphoned off that rage, I was filled with soul-numbing remorse and shame.  Every single one of my inner critics took a shot at me, chiming in to tell me what an asshole I was.  That I was lucky I broke myself instead of the dog.  That I deserved the injuries to my hands.  That this was what I got for losing my temper. 

I felt like a monster.  I went into a spiral of shame, and all the naysayers jumped on the bandwagon.  

“You call yourself an animal lover?  If people knew who you REALLY are, they would run away screaming.  You are the biggest piece of lying, fucked up shit in the world.  You’re disgusting.  You really crossed the line with both feet.”   Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Senior Fuckholio.

Hortense immediately empathized with the dog, ironically traumatizing her further.  Hortense wanted to scoop up the puppy and console her.  Except the puppy  had just experienced me losing my mind, scaring her and then breaking into hysterical sobs. The dog didn’t trust that I was done flipping out .   Keeping up with my emotional shifts is not exactly a realistic expectation for a 7 month old puppy.  So when she cowered away from me, Hortense spiraled into depression and sadness, adding more self-hatred to the mix.

Goodie Bitchface started in with the scolding.  “Now you know you have to keep a lid on that temper of yours.  Nobody will ever POSSIBLY love you as long as that Fred asshole is around.  Just pretend it never happened and go on with your life.  And don’t let it happen again.  You can’t.  It’s just too horrible.” Then she swept up all the internal mess and bottled up all those feelings in a jar.  I think she my have even buried the jar. 

The voices of the critics looped in crazy circles.  I felt guiltier and guiltier and guiltier as the days passed.  I worked up a good hate-on towards myself. 

And if hating myself wasn’t bad enough, I had the hand injuries wouldn’t heal.  Evidence of a temper lost.  At first, I thought I had just strained something and that I would ignore it until it got better.  That approach used to work for me quite well.  Almost two months after the incident, I finally went to the hand doctor.  My left thumb had no strength in it, and I had a large knot on my right index finger.  Turns out the thumb wasn’t broken, but the doctor said he was pretty sure I tore a ligament in my hand.  Almost certainly a partial tear, possibly a full one.   I’d lost some range of motion, and it hurt like hell.  He gave me a brace.  Thank the stars I’m right-handed. 

But wait- the right hand is fucked up too!  The knuckle at the end of the finger suffered a twisting injury.  I had a fracture on one side of the knuckle and a piece of bone that chipped off the other side of the same knuckle.  The chip  worked its way up into the soft tissue of the end of the finger.  This formed a big know that I kept whacking on things.  Again, hurt like hell.  This finger was put in a compression bandage for four weeks.  The surgeon told me if he decided to operate, they might have to fuse the joint. ( WHAT?!?!?)  The other option was to make do with the pain and swelling on the finger that I bump about 6 million times a day.  Awesome. Braces on both hands.  If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me what I did to hurt myself, it would pay for the surgery. 

Imagine walking around with splints on both hands and being asked several times a day “Wow, how did you hurt your hands?”  Every time that happened, the shame would rear its ugly head and I’d lie.  I told people  I got tangled up in the dog’s leash and fell.  Or I would just say I broke my hands.  And I continued to feel like the biggest piece of shit that ever lived. 

As we all know, the real reason both my hands are jacked up is that I simply lost my temper.  I’ve been sooooo reluctant to take responsibility for that;  I’ve hidden the truth from everyone.      I judge myself pretty harshly on any given day, so those weeks and months were a REAL picnic.   I was so afraid that my friends would judge me that I pulled a real number on myself.  I held it all inside, letting the members of my inner jury take their best shots at me over and over and over for weeks.    By the time I finally made it to the doctor, I was so full of shame and self loathing that I was literally sick to my stomach.   I decided I was going to see how long it took my hands to heal.  I wasn’t willing to go gung-ho for surgery that might end up with some yahoo fusing my finger bones together.

And the first time it even occurred to me that I was headed down a road I didn’t need to cast myself onto was when I got home from the doctor’s office and a ridiculously shrill and  judgmental voice inside my head distinctly  told me that I was such a piece of shit that I deserved to have disfigured, nonfunctional hands for the rest of my life. 

Whoa…. really?

Um, Houston, we have a problem… Renfield has taken on the role of Punisher.  And he’s remarkably good at it.  I hated myself for weeks before it ever occurred to me to question the validity of the self-abusive things I was saying to myself.   

 As I wallowed in the daily doses of self-hatred festering in my heart, it took awhile for me to notice that the dog was fine.  She was not permanently scarred.  She was happy and joyful and not afraid of me.  She got over the whole thing and forgave me.  There was no WAY I was forgiving myself; Renfield wouldn’t allow it.  The main problem here is not that I lost my temper and did something I regretted; it was the internal dialogue going on in my head afterwards.

No one on this earth can judge me about the events of my life as harshly as I judge myself.  I kept up this negative haranguing, beating myself bloody before I admitted to anyone how I REALLY hurt my hands.  When I finally mustered the courage to “come clean,”  I was absolutely flabbergasted to be met with kind acceptance, love and forgiveness by others.  That allowed me to begin the healing process of forgiving myself.

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~ by dancingwiththeshadow on June 22, 2011.

One Response to “To dance with anger, Part 2 of 3….”

  1. So sorry, early readers! I MUST remember to use spell check before posting!! 🙂

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