To dance with anger, Part 3 of 3…whew…


For me, the healing process is never pretty or neat.  Processing the incident with my beloved dog was no exception.  I tend to not change anything about the status quo until life becomes almost unbearable.  For some reason, I tend to be invested in doing everything the hard way. 

There’s a part of me under all this negativity that is loving and kind.  When I thought that I deserved to be disfigured, a still, small voice inside that said “Um, hold the phone… ”  I knew I had to break out of this destructive cycle.  I did the only thing I knew how to do- I told the truth to someone I trusted.  I was terrified of being judged.  I felt like the lowest form of scum on the earth. 

 The first person I confessed my sins to was a counselor at work.  We work with family violence offenders between 8 and 5 Monday through Friday.  I figured she was safe, since she deals with batterers all day.  If ANYONE could separate the offense from the offender, I knew it would be her.  She hears justifications from people day in and day out about some of the most awful things one person can do to another.  I tearfully confessed what happened with my dog, terrified that she would run away screaming.  And my friend’s response was a nonchalant “Well, it could have been worse.” 

I was dumbfounded. 

How the HELL could anything be worse than what I had been punishing myself for?  I asked her that question with tears in my eyes, and she shrugged and responded, “Well, you could have strangled the dog or killed her.”  My perspective immediately shifted.  In the grand scheme of all possible outcomes, screaming at and scaring my dog was indeed not the worse thing that could have happened in the history of the universe.

Honestly discussing my rage with someone I trusted opened the gate.  I began to trust the secret to more of my friends.  Each and every time, it was a little bit easier.  I began to feel like less of a fuck up.  People I approached shared stories of their less-than-stellar moments with with their children or pets.  We have all at some point done something out of anger that we have regretted.  I forgot that.  When people responded to me with understanding, compassion and love, I was astounded.  I began to see that while my actions were absolutely inappropriate, I was not a total piece of shit.  Senior Fuckholio and Renfield FREAKED OUT every time I approached a new person and told my story.  By the time I was completely out in the open about my actions, the inner voices were much quieter.  I felt better about myself.  And I learned that I get to run the show.  I don’t ever have to fall victim to Fred’s energy ever again. 

I also learned that when human beings stuff and repress anger, it burns and congeals into a rage that WILL eventually find an outlet.  That outlet may consist of hurting another life form or hurting oneself. The most talented of us cannot keep vigilant watch over our anger 24 hours a day.  I am no better or worse than anyone else.  Learning how to manage my anger and be responsible for it is part of being human.   What I’ve discovered is that there is a part of me (my Nemesis) that is so self-destructive that it will push me to do what I see as the most unforgiveable of all acts- hurting or scaring an animal- so that I can then beat myself up for those very actions.  I am brilliant at self sabotage, and I almost can’t believe how I pulled that huge number on myself.  I can say with confidence that I will never again put my hands on another living creature in anger.  I won’t do that to them, and I won’t do that to myself.  All resolved, right?  Wrong.  Not that simple.  My life rarely is.

Right after coming clean about what I did- the shameful secret that ate my guts for weeks- I had a week like every other week.  My job is stressful and draining, so I normally designate one weekend day for fun and one weekend day for work-  laundry, cleaning, errands, and whatever else Renfield  decides  not to do during the week.  I had chose to make Saturday my “hang out with friends” day and Sunday the work day.

 Making Sunday the work day RARELY works for me. 

When I make Sunday the work day, I lounge around feeling moody, resentful that I have a day off work and can’t do whatever the hell I want to do.  I resent that my dirty underwear won’t wash itself.  I resent that I have to wear clothes in the first place.  I resent that I have to take a shower, and sometimes I don’t.  I resent the fact that the dogs don’t pick up their own shit or that I might have to actually cook some food for myself.  Basically I resent not being able to do anything fun.  AND I don’t let myself plan anything fun because it’s the “designated work day.”  Another one of those double edged swords, thanks to my resourceful inner critics.  I really need to shake up my structure a little, because that Sunday afternoon was ridiculous. 

I slept in until about 8, which felt awesome.  I did my journaling, ate some breakfast, and realized that I couldn’t do any vacuuming or dishes because I didn’t want to make noise and wake my housemates up.  (Sounds like a valid excuse to me, Renfield!)  So, I opted to watch a film for an hour and a half and then start my chores.  It was about 9:30 in the morning.  The film was French and I had to read the subtitles. Normally that pisses me off, but this movie was fairly engrossing.  It was also thought provoking and kind of depressing.  So, by 11 AM, I’m in a funk.  I decided I’d relax a bit, because I just didn’t feel like doing anything.  I was feeling weepy and full of angst.  I had no idea what the hell  was going on.  I just knew I was sad.  I had several crying jags.  I spent the day watching movies about responsibility and power and abuses of power and several other heavy themes. And yes, dammit, there were some Buffy episodes in there.  The day passed and I hadn’t completed any chores.   I berated myself for not doing anything all day.  Thank you, Goodie Bitchface.  Renfield was most definitely driving the bus, but Goodie and Senor Fuckholio were in the front row, snarking back and forth about my to do list and how I am such a loser that I was going to let ANOTHER weekend pass without cleaning the fairly skanky shower. 

I finally cried uncle and called a friend.  She told me I was probably just releasing emotion and to just stick with the feelings. Lovely.  Not what I wanted to hear.   The feelings suck.  I hate the crying and all the snot.  I hate that black, sucking vortex of sadness.  She reminds me I did some fairly heavy duty work the past few days and that I should cut myself some slack.

Oh yeah, that work I did…  that GIGANTIC chunk of emotional baggage (losing my temper with the dog, please refer to part 2 of 3)  I worked on for three solid days prior to this little episode of depression.  I often tackle huge obstacles to my inner growth and then fail to allow myself sufficient recovery time afterward.  I plow through things and don’t give myself any credit for the courage or energy needed to tackle the tough stuff.  Instead, I immediately fix my sights on the next challenge, the next issue, or the next obstacle.  No wonder I make myself crazy.  I just push myself too goddamned hard most of the time in between periods of inertia.  I forget that this growth business is a process, not a product. 

I HATE PROCESS.  I like stuff I can finish up, slap a bow on, and say “Holy shit, will you look at what I just did?”  Process can kiss my ass.  I am a fan of the “TA-DA” moment.  As a result, I sometimes minimize the important gut-wrenching stuff that blows back the hair of most people.  My more “normal” friends often ask me what I did on a particular day, and I nonchalantly tell them all this heavy duty emotional crap (because it seems a little blasé to me now that it’s over).  My revelations are sometimes met with looks of incredulity, slack jaws, and “ You did WHAT?!?!?!” 

I’m determined that this dog thing will serve as Fred’s last hurrah. I hereby revoke his driving privileges.  Forever.  I’ve got his number now.  He no longer gets to drive the bus.

My point in all this isn’t to shock anyone.  I’ve been utterly ashamed of these actions, and I don’t really want to admit there is indeed a batshit crazy part that rises up from inside me if I’m pushed hard enough.  The only way to not be ruled by Fred’s rage is to deal with my anger as it comes up.  Find an appropriate way to express myself to vent the steam.  It’s no longer an option to let him loose on the unsuspecting world.   I’m sure I can figure out a way to rehabilitate Fred.  But even recognizing anger is sometimes a challenge for me because I’ve spent so much of my life trying to be “nice.”  I’ve denied that I feel angry through clenched teeth.  I’ve gotten headaches and a sore neck from the tension of holding all that shit in.   When I hold it in, it’s eventually going to explode.  I’m pretty talented, but even I can’t put ten pounds of shit into a five pound bag.

I never before understood the difference between being denied the opportunity of expressing my rage and expressing my anger APPROPRIATELY until the light bulb went off while processing this incident.  I went from a lifetime pattern of stuffing my emotions to spewing them all over everyone else.  I realized I had to stop swinging from one extreme to another and reach for some soft of balance.

And there’s another problem.  Fred used to be the only part of me that felt powerful.  Sledgehammer powerful that obliterated everything in his path, but powerful.  There’s always more work to do, eh?  I guess I might be done when I’m in the dirt. 

I am only as sick as my secrets.  By dragging this all out into the light, I have to recognize that I’m human.  And I have a new level of compassion for myself and for others that act out in anger.  Before this happened, I was one of the harshest judges when I heard of anyone harming a child or animal.  Now that I have walked in those shoes, I have a better understanding of the whole dynamic.  I trust that this whole experience will help make me a better person.

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~ by dancingwiththeshadow on July 6, 2011.

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