When I Am Who I Was
Everyone has experienced anger. Everyone. You have had that moment when you thought it would be a great idea to kick someone in the head. Don’t feel bad, I’m betting Gandhi, Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama, and anyone else you care to look up to has had that moment as well. Don’t take that bet. You’ll lose.
I have a long acquaintance with anger. Like most humans, I have acted on it. I have screamed terrible things at people, broken things, refused to do things I should have out of angry defiance. Or done things I should have refused to do. Part of the motive behind my alcoholic drinking was to drown that anger, to remove it. Like many people, I went for the quick fix of a drug instead of trying to, you know, actually change anything about myself or my life.
Now that I don’t drink, I still get angry. When I was in the habit of getting angry then drinking it away, I did a lot of things I’d call negative. I felt like I was a basically bad person, and being angry was something that bad people did.
So now when I get angry, that warped thought process surfaces again and says, “see! You’re still a bad person!” so I deny to myself that I am even angry, try to pretend that I am justified, and that multiplies it, because I know that’s not right. And that makes me angry. I am trying to be a good person. Why does this have to be so difficult? Why do I still get so damn mad? And my jaw clenches and my stomach churns and I run around the vicious hamster wheel of anger for a while until I realize I’m doing it and just… step off.
Just step off. It’s so easy to do, so difficult to think of in the passion of rage. But as the months go by, I find I am angry less often. When I am angry, I recognize what is going on faster, and I let the anger fade away into the nothingness from which it came faster. I am less angry when I am angry. And many things which would have thrown me into a frothing rant a few years ago now elicit a disinterested ‘meh.’
It can be difficult for a person like me, who is used to anger, to accept that I might be disturbed by something, that I might have reason to think something is not right and needs to be corrected or at least be discussed, and not be a terrible person. And not be angry. But it is true, and the right or wrong is not in the disturbance, but in how I react, and what I do about it.
It’s not really difficult, I make it difficult because the old plains ape still crouches somewhere deep in my brain and insists that change is bad, because it probably means that a lion has shown up or a fire is sweeping across the veldt. But it’s not difficult at all, once I do the right thing and actually use this big ol’ brain that the providence of evolution has given me.