A lot of people peg me as a gentle bloke. A man that gets by his day with very little stress, confusion and anger. A man that doesn’t go off the rails in temper at the slightest hint of a head on collision with another person. In fact, it was why my wife chose me. She’s always liked gentle men, and although I may be brash and clumsy; I’m always treating other people with the care and delicacy that they deserve. I’m a gentle man, and always have been.
That’s not to say that I don’t get angry though. That’s not to say that I don’t explode like Mt Krakatoa at some times in my life; yesterday I made my Son cry his eyes out because he was testing me. My wife, who came upstairs to moderate everything caught an earful too. You see, I believe a certain amount of anger is healthy. It’s the way in which we process this anger that may not be healthy.
When I was a young boy I was always told that getting angry was a bad thing. My Mum would akin my anger to my Dad. To me, that was very bad. That was the place where emotions went to die — being like my Dad. My teachers would scold and berate me in front of the class for feeling anger. Even my extended family; my Aunties and Uncles would tell me that being angry wasn’t a good thing to be.
It stayed with me for a lot of my early adulthood too. The fights that I had got in at High School were wrong; a man shouldn’t be angry, there is something wrong with him when he’s angry. It’s all I knew. I was only functioning properly when I was happy, positive and feeling upbeat emotions. Bad emotions were the route to my Dad. I didn’t want to be like him. He was always angry; or what I remember of him.
Here’s the thing though — as I made my headlong journey into recovery one of the first lessons I learned was to let go of my anger. I didn’t understand it at first; I mean I didn’t feel angry, I just felt like me. Raymond. Why would I be angry? My Doctors, nurses, psychiatric consultants — they all said the same. Let go of the anger. Yet, I never felt angry at all. I was always trying to be nice to people and please them. I liked people. Or so I thought.
It all seems so strange when you’re not thinking on that level.
It all came to a head though one night as I was sat on my own, let down by another friend that said he was coming over but never appeared. I remember feeling the blood pump through my veins as if I was hopped up on some sort of amphetamine. I remember kicking my sofa,
“fucking stupid bastard friend,”
I felt alone. Right now I was feeling unloved. I was in a different country with no family around me and no-one to care two shits about whether I made it through recovery or not. I had no support systems in place whatsoever.
I remember punching the wall and making a nice punchy dent in it,
“Fucking family. Never done enough,”
After that it kind of went in a free for all. I remember taking my broom handle and smashing the fucking doors. I snapped the coffee table legs by jumping on them, I took my fist to the kitchen cupboards, I put my foot through the TV and finally I picked up one of my big pasta bowls and launched it out of a closed window.
I lay there, out of breath..
Not so angry anymore.
In a way it felt good to have done something about how I was feeling. It was over the top of course, yet I had been suppressing my anger for many, many, many years. I was pretending it didn’t exist when it did — it was always there, hiding behind me like some evil veil, waiting to take charge. I had a lot of anger I hadn’t dealt with. Dad leaving us, Mum, ex girlfriends, friendship issues, issues with myself, ex work issues; all that anger festering and building up for many years. I recognised that I had to deal with it all moving forward. Otherwise I’m going to keep blowing up like this for no reason.
So now my anger comes out when it needs to. I’m sorry it does; I mean when it does I usually have to console the family and tell them I’m sorry for being an idiot, I have to give Alex a big hug and tell him I’m sorry if I overacted; but my wife understands this. I think she would rather me be angry at her in the moment than let it fester for years and blow up over something little.
We tell our children that it’s not good to be angry; or at least that’s what was told to me. That positive emotions are the only way to go. Sometimes not because of their discomfort but at our own discomfort at dealing with the situation. My Mum hated anger so she’d snub me for it. I’ve noticed this.
I’m teaching Alex differently. I mean I’m definitely not perfect and neither is he, but I’m hoping to set him foot first in a good solid guide on how to deal with his emotions healthily. We don’t tell him off for being angry, especially if his anger is justified. We tell him off for his actions during his anger. For instance if he throws things. But he has a right to be angry in certain instances. Being a kid is difficult too!
So next time you tell your kid off for being angry — ask yourself is this healthy, or is it not?