My old friend Clarence liked the post I wrote about him awhile back and jokingly asked me to write another one. OK, buddy, but you’re not gonna like this one.
Note: I’m keeping your true identity out of this, so your anonymity is preserved.
I meant everything I said in that post. In fact, I cherish your friendship a lot more than I did even then. But you have a special challenge I have a little experience with (a lot of experience, actually). I’ve tried to explain it to you in person and on the phone, but I’m not doing a very good job at it. So I’ll do what I always do in situations like that and put it in the written word.
You carry a lot of rage inside of you. An old priest I used to know described it as Irish Alzheimer’s Disease — you forget everything but the grudges.
You talk a lot about how this friend has betrayed you or that friend is driving you to the point where you want to “rip his f-ing head off.” You describe these verbal rages as “taking moral inventory.”
It’s good to take moral inventory. The problem is that your taking inventory of other people’s morals instead of your own.
Taking inventory is probably not the best way to describe it. I used to have to take inventory of shoes in my father’s warehouse and all it did was bore me and make me do stupid things like chainsmoke and talk trash about others.
I used to spend every waking hour stewing over everyone I felt had wronged me that day, week or year. I call it my angry years. Stewing is an exhausting activity, and nothing good comes of it. Build up enough resentment over time and it’ll eat you alive before you have time to feel the teeth going in.
I had one hell of a temper when I was younger. To call it a byproduct of OCD, depression and addiction would be a stretch, because I think the temper would have been there even without the mental illness.
Some of the more colorful examples of my temper:
– Hurling a fork or steak knife at my brother in a restaurant on New Years Eve 1979 because he made a joke I didn’t like. The more dramatic among my family members say it was a steak knife, though I’m pretty sure it was a fork.
– Lighting things on fire out of anger, including a collection of Star Wars action figures that would probably be worth a fortune today. I would pretend they were kids in school who were bullying me. Never mind that I bullied as much as I got bullied.
–Throwing rocks through windows, especially the condominium building that was built behind my house in the late 1980s.
–Yelling “mood swing!” before throwing things around the room at parties in my basement. It came off as comical, as I intended, and nobody got hurt. But there was definitely an underlying anger to it. I was acting out.
– Road rage. Tons of it. I was a very angry driver. I would tailgate. I would speed. In the winters I would intentionally spin out my putrid-green 1983 Ford LTD station wagon in parking lots during snowstorms. While in college, I nearly hit another car and flipped off the other driver while my future in-laws sat in the back. Traffic jams would infuriate me. Getting lost would fill me with fear and, in turn, more anger.
I could go on, but you get the picture, Clarence.
You gotta drop the rage because it’ll never make you feel better. It certainly won’t help you deal with the relationships that give you the rage.
Focus on your own betterment instead. You ARE doing that and you’ve made a ton of progress.
But that rage will hold you back from your full potential as a human being, so cut the bullshit and move on.