4.20 Fighter or Flighter


Let's talk about some shit. I'm on the phone with my mom and I'm telling her about this ridiculous phone bill. I switched one jerkoff phone company for another jerkoff phone company and together, through miscommunications and misinformation, I ended up with an outrageous bill. Jesus, these phone companies sure run a racket, they've figured out all the angles, they really screw you. Let's not go down that road.

But maybe we should. So, I'm saying that I'll try to calmly figure it out. Don't you ever get mad? She asked me. I had to pause and think about this one. Well, yeah, everyone gets mad. Some show it more than others. But this is some kind of cop out because I'm mad most of the time. I try not to show it but you can read it on my face. For years, I just told everyone that that's my face - my thinking face - that happens to pull my face into a frown and furrow my brow.

If I were honest, and there's no reason not to be, I walk around in a ball of anger most days. Usually not at anything specific, just angry. And it sucks because I don't want to be Angry Guy. There's really no reason for it, at least not many that I can name right now. I paused at the question posed by my mother because although I walk around mad for one reason or another, I have nothing to rail against and therefore turn it all inside.

It bugs the hell out of me when people toss around their anger, those individuals that the rest of us have to tippy toe around and are thankful when they're in a good mood. Give me a break, get some goddamn control over yourself. On the other hand, I'm sitting here on the other side of the spectrum, unable to express this anger towards where it should go. I know either extreme is not healthy, but there's gotta be a middle ground. It's not good, keeping this all in, pounding the shit out of myself over every little thing. Oh, if you only knew the kind of messed up stuff I tell myself.

A few years ago I went to a meditation retreat and all we did was sit around all day. If you told me what would happen, I wouldn't believe you. All the shit I was carrying around, all that inside, how it poured out. I never realized all that is held inside, all the crap we hold on to, all the good stuff we let go. I've come to believe that this ball of anger is an actual physical thing that we store in our bodies, that we carry around with us and it eats us up from the inside. It manifests itself as illness or bitterness, all kinds of -ness. Let it out, talk some shit, because in the end it doesn't matter.

A few years ago, I worked at a corporate job. The whole thing made me mad. Everything about it. Our office was on the ground floor and outside my window, a demolition crew was tearing down an old building to make way for new condos. Everyday I sat on the phone getting involved in one stupid scenario or another, answering emails to put out fires. All the while watching them tear down that building one brick at a time. Yeah, I know the metaphor is weak, but it actually happened this way. I remember thinking that that building was me, getting beat up, broken down, and just letting it happen. The anger I felt was hollow like the empty floors. There was no where to put it and if I kept letting it eat away at me, I'd end up dead or as useless as this damn old building being deconstructed. When the building finally was leveled, so was I. Didn't stick around, I had to rebuild, get rid of this anger before it was too late.

One of the strangest aspects of anger occurs when I fail to risk something, I chicken shit out, and oh, I lay the internal smack down of a lifetime. I'm slowly coming to realize that this doesn't matter either, the results of these risks. I gotta take'em, and a lot of times it doesn't work out, but every once in a while I hit one and it's worth it. The anger goes away but how come I have to re-learn this with every risk, feel that enormous sense of paralyzing doubt, force myself with threats of being forever alone or forever lost, and only then, with everything on the line, with no net, take the plunge and even if it doesn't work, I've let go of something, some minuscule part of that big ball of anger has eroded.

I have two kinds of anger. When I get angry in the outside world, I completely lose my train of thought, get defensive and generally want to leave the room. Cowardly, for sure, I have no sense of fight, only flight. When I get angry at myself, it's a totally different situation. I'm all fight and no flight, I guess because there's no getting away from yourself. I can't seem to stay present in a real fit of external anger, something I need to work on and figure out. Look, I'm a slow learner, someone not prone to outbursts of emotion. But if you lived in my head, you'd see that in a way, I've been living two lives, lives that I can't seem to connect up. Truth is, I don't like that guy very much that's walking around fake smiling at people and largely invisible. There's a lot going on in here, and I wish I could introduce this person to more people.

Last weekend I went out with a large group of people, most of them I did not know. But I'm trying to be more open and do things like this. I was introduced to a few people and we all sat around a table, had a drink. People moved around and a woman sat across from me. She asked me if we were introduced and I told her yes, we met about thirty minutes ago. She laughed it off. I was mad but had no context for my anger. Imagine that, so uninteresting, so transparent that you're forgotten in the time it takes to watch an episode of a crappy sitcom. I laughed it off with her, to tell you the truth, I couldn't remember her name either. As I said, the anger had no context, so it just turns inside, angles itself at that ball of anger, adds to it, many times completely unconsciously. And I take that home and sleep on it and let it infest my dreams, my waking state, my state of being, and after a while, it becomes automatic.

Maybe I'll use this ridiculous phone bill as an experiment. Here is a context for my anger. An opportunity to really rail. To take a hammer and chisel and start chipping away at that ball of anger. Might've taken over twenty years to build it, but maybe it'll take less time to tear it down.