I write this with tears in my eyes.
I have talked before about my anger issues. As a child and a teenager I was angry all the time. I didn’t know why I was angry. I just was. Even worse, I didn’t even know I was angry. I wasn’t aware that anger was burning deep inside me, killing me from the inside out.
I didn’t get into fights. I didn’t hit anyone. But I was much too stern and I kept everyone at arm’s length. The smallest of things was enough to set me off and I’d yell an angry retort and stomp away to go simmer in my room.
Being a gifted child didn’t help either. To me, everybody was utterly stupid and I looked at pretty much everyone with contempt. It is quite normal for everybody to see themselves as the norm. I didn’t think of myself as gifted. I saw myself as having a “normal” intelligence. So, if I was a regular, average kid , then everybody else had to be stupid because, how else do you explain the fact that they don’t understand things as easily and as quick as you do? Math class was the worse. I was always angry during those. I couldn’t understand how my classmates didn’t understand such basic concepts. It took me a while to realize I was smarter than the rest. It probably didn’t happen until 6th grade, when the nuns started to assign students to me for tutoring. I don’t know how we all survived that. The poor other kids, because I didn’t hit them for being slow and I, because I managed to not hit anyone and not call anyone names. My charges were terrified of me, but they improved. And the more they improved, the more the nuns would assigned more girls to be tutored by me. By ninth grade, girls were coming to me out of their own volition and I helped them all. I started to get an inkling on how to control The Beast, whatever it was. How to keep it at bay.
I was angry in my 20s too, although less. My health problems really kicked in at that time and I guess I was too busy being in pain and ill that I didn’t have the mind to be angry that much. Besides, I now had two delightful, brilliant kids and that helped, believe it or not. My kids taught me patience. They taught me fun. They taught me happiness.
That’s when I realized that that thing I felt, that pain deep in my chest, The Beast, was anger. I also started to realize what it was doing to me and to others. And with that, came sadness and shame. A profound understanding that anger never solves anything. That it never brings anything good. That only brings hurt to everyone involved.
That’s when I committed myself to actively thwart the anger. To beat the Beast. I didn’t want to be angry anymore. I didn’t want to hurt and I didn’t want anyone else to hurt because of it.
And so the war started. The war between The Beast and I.
However, it wasn’t too long before I realized I couldn’t really kill the Beast. All I could do was to keep it chained in the deepness of my being. Something weird happened then. I became frozen inside. I suppose that my mind decided it was the only way to control The Beast. The side effect of that was two-fold: 1. I could get angry on the outside anymore, and 2. I was directing all the anger inward, causing myself great emotional pain.
But on the outside, my 30s brought many victories. The Beast was less and less seen. I was getting more and more successful at keeping it contained. That’s also when I moved to Canada so loving it here so much might’ve been that extra help I needed. I don’t know. But I did get better and better at it. Nevertheless, my therapist would often comment about my inability to get angry and how that wasn’t really a good thing as we do need to express our feelings instead of burying them inside. And besides, he said, sometimes it is OK to be angry. That there is such thing as healthy anger. I haven’t managed to do that just yet.
I had an epiphany of sorts while watching The Avengers. There is this scene where Dr. Banner finally explains to the rest of the team what his secret is:
Yep, that’s me. And as Dr. Banner would tell you, it is always ugly when The Beast surfaces.
Today was one of those days.
And now I lay here in bed, feeling very sad for the hurt it caused.