For most of my life, anger has been my constant companion. Not the type of humdrum, every-day, here one minute and gone the next anger that misplacing your keys, stubbing your toe or spilling your coffee causes to rise, fuel an expletive or two and then fall away to nothing almost as quickly as it appeared. Nope, that shit was like breakfast cereal for me, I’d eat a couple of bowls of it in the morning and then get ready for the days main event to boil and bubble away in every atom of my being; and then, and only then, would I feel ready to face the world.
That anger came from somewhere. There was a cause and then there was the effect. Action and reaction. The thing is though, there isn’t a single event that I can categorically and unequivocally isolate and state: “Yeah, this is where it comes from, this is the root cause of all if it”. Whatever the original cause , the action and reaction to any trigger was always the same. Anger. My monster, that creature that I fed and nurtured and allowed to damn near consume my life.
Thing is, it’s easy to blame circumstance. The whole A led to B led to C, that’s why I’m angry, that’s why the red mist descends and that’s why I battered that bloke and tried to make a necklace out of his teeth scenario. But blaming whatever it was, and is, that started feeding the beast and kept its belly full is just a cheap way of absolving responsibility and taking the easy route out of Accountability City, which allowed me to shrug my shoulders and mutter “It’s just the way I am, it’s not my fault” for nearly four decades. At some point you have to step back, peak behind the curtain, take control of all the levers, switches and ridiculously complicated arrays of buttons and triggers and figure out how the machine works.
And it isn’t easy. Digging up and dusting off all of that crap that you’ve buried down deep, confronting it head on and trying to find a way to deal with it isn’t exactly a Sunday afternoon stroll in the park. For instance, the fact that I was bullied incessantly for nearly ten years because I was a slight, ginger kid who liked (and still likes) “weird” stuff like comics, Dungeons & Dragons, science fiction and preferred, horror of all horrors, to read books instead of mindlessly smashing other people’s property was a pretty bitter pill to taste, let alone swallow.
Accepting that I spent day after day as a verbal and physical punching bag for most of my peers simply because I was smaller and weaker than them and understanding that it was simplistic, tribal behaviour made manifest and nothing more was tough to deal with. Knowing that the morons who bullied me were simply following primitive biological instincts didn’t make it any easier and didn’t change the fact that they were, and almost certainly still are, profoundly stupid and lacking in any sort of imagination, individuality or personality. It did allow me to understand why it happened and knowing the why, allowed me to give it context, examine it from a different perspective and after days of soul searching, let go of all the pain, misery and the twisted, strange fucked up belief that maybe I was to blame for what happened to me. I wasn’t. I never was. The kids who bullied me, they were responsible for their own actions, just like I’m responsible for mine, and the way that I reacted to and didn’t deal with the situation. They were responsible for what they did, it wasn’t my fault.
It also wasn’t my fault that an overtly touchy feely leader of a well -known youth organisation which I was a member of as a child took it upon himself to play the role of a real life Uncle Ernie and have a jolly fine old time fiddling about with adolescent me. I buried the memory of those encounters deep in the blackest, darkest corner of my mind and left them there to fester, rot and allowed their slow decay to feed the demon that had buried it’s claws deep in my soul rather than letting it out of its cage and freeing it. Maybe if I had, maybe if I hadn’t been too scared to face it, I’d have also freed myself. But I didn’t. I kept it a secret, just like I’d been told to and I let it feed my monster. I know it wasn’t my fault, and I knew it wasn’t my fault at the time, but fear is a great motivator and while it’s changed its face many times since it first sank it’s fangs into me, that fear was always present. It was always there and that’s why it stayed, remaining camouflaged and suckling the devil that I did know until I finally exposed it and let it burn in the cold, hard light of that day. It was a terrible thing that happened to me, but I’ve now learned to deal with it in my own way and accept it. It might not be the healthiest way of dealing with it, but it’s my way and for now, that’ll have to do.
Then there’s every fucked up relationship, every betrayal, every promise broken, every opportunity that I was too afraid to take because I’d been stripped of any, and all, self-confidence and never thought I was good enough to deserve, or amount to, anything, and the thought of those countless roads not travelled because fate had stripped me of any mettle that I once had, it burned, And as it burned it fed my anger, it’s constant flame heating that fury to boiling point, maintaining it so that always ready to spill over at any moment and scorch anyone and everyone who ever crossed my path.
But that was then and this is now. This is the now when I’ve pulled all of that shit up, embraced and accepted it and allowed it become a part of me instead of defining me and I’m no longer a slave to my monster. I control it, it doesn’t control me. But just because I’ve come to terms with the fires that fuelled my fury, it doesn’t mean that I’ve forgiven or forgotten the pyromaniacs who started the conflagration, I haven’t. I’m not that kind of man. Not yet. I might be one day, but at the moment, acceptance is all I’ve got, it’s the best that I can do and my best is just going to have to be good enough. For now.
Don’t get me wrong. I still get angry. I still feel that bubbling, boiling, burning rage surging through my every fibre. It’s still a part of me. It probably always will. But acceptance has taught me that I can live in harmony with my rage and that I don’t have to let it out unless I want to. I control my anger, it doesn’t control me. And right now, that’ll do. That’ll do just fine. Tim Cundle