This post has been in my mind for a while now but I am human and now suffer from the knowledge that people will read this. I of course want to be liked and do know shame. So I have taken every excuse – “oh this happened today” or “how nice of someone to shoot out a meme” or today “I had a dream” (I really did) – to write other posts.
This week there was a moment – okay, fifteen minutes of moments – that were too ugly to ignore, to real to sweep away, to serious for me to make light of. But before I get to that moment, I need to step back. A month ago there was mention of a mysterious hole in the kitchen wall discovered by a wife after her husband had spent the evening watching the kids. I knew immediately how it got there because it could have been my story. I considered the moment – his moment – and I wrote an e-mail, some of which follows:
I generally do not write based on my age, but I make an exception tonight. I have adult children and younger children. I have an explosive rage. I have been working on it and last night I asked KA two questions - how long have I actively been working (and generally succeeding) on controlling my temper and what finally got through to me. The answers were around three months and the trigger was when my girls were basically running away and freaking that it was going to be a Daddy night.
Now understand, I never hit them - hit the table, screamed so my throat hurt afterwards, slammed a door where I think the wall shook - but never them.
When the rage starts to show, one of the girls tells me she wants the new daddy. We have not discussed my working at this, but they know the old from the new daddy. I do not claim to be "cured" (had enough trouble with that word for a lifetime) and do not deny at times it takes everything I have and sometimes even that is not enough. But the fact is that they seem to understand that they are witnessing new dad having an old dad moment as opposed to the old dad returning.
Back to the moment – my moment. We had a family vacation, four of us, car washed (thanks to the Vineyard Church), tuned up and heading north. And a nice mini-vacation it was. Two nights in a hotel with a pool, days to explore and on to Boston. A day at the science museum (complete with a Mobius Strip display), a “duck” tour (great fun), dinner out and on to our last day. I gather it started poorly – while I was waiting for the luggage pickup, KA was in the elevator as one child pushed the button of the elevator and unwittingly the button of her sister who never quite recovered.
Now this is a difficult child on a good day and this is not a good day. We make it back to the hotel and rather than walk over to the Commons, we ask for the car. The vacation has ground to an end. Now the difficult child besides having an elevator button issue is having a tee shirt in the gift shop issue and is in total decomp. I suppose it is also relevant to note the kid is over nine - large and smart for her age.
Now I grant you I am teetering – getting in the car for a four and a half hour drive, stressed from the trip’s truncated ending, and the wailing from the back seat – but we are strong and we are holding it together. We go half a block and make a turn and there in my peripheral vision is the child twisted around, pointing out the back window – “Back, back”. We pull over and ask – probably harshly at this point - if she wants the tee shirt and she screams she wants to go home. We start rolling and she twists around again – “Back, back” and I pull over and completely am overtaken with rage. I am screaming, I am pounding on the console (it amazingly does not break), and I am ready to go home. As I floor the car pulling away from the curb on this city street, KA screams for me to stop. She yells I am going to get us killed. I yell back a response that even I dare not put to paper. She leaves the car, ostensibly to walk back to the Hotel to buy the tee shirt, but in reality to keep me from driving.
As usual she was correct. We were 100 yards from the entrance to the Mass Pike and I would have hit the highway with a rage driven gusto. I am not a slow driver – safe and quite good – but not slow. Without the tee shirt break I would have been unsafe.
I tell the story and friends point out they have had those moments of being at wits end, of exploding, and if ever I had reason, this one took the cake. Even KA tells me that other than the fact that I would have driven at that moment, she does not blame me. I suppose the fact that in so many other cases my reactions were over the top and not justified, make me overly sensitive. That and the fact that the rage was so, so blinding. I have in the past (apologies to Flip) referred to this as an alcoholic’s rage without the alcohol and truth be told I probably had as little control over it as if I was drunk. I was drunk – just with rage instead of alcohol.
Of late my posts have been for the community as common issues are explored. For this moment I return to the basics. I write for me with the hope that I will be a little stronger for having made this part of my written reality. Strange but before the vacation I told KA that I wanted to spend a little less time in therapy with being bi and a little more dealing with these fits of rage and where they really come from.
And as I re-read this I realize that the fact that I cannot write what I yelled in the car, is the reason I must force myself to write it, to confront the demon. KA screams at me that (driving this way) will get us killed. And I scream back to the effect it will be better than this living hell. I do not feel that, do not believe it for a second, but at that moment it passed my lips and my shame knows no bounds.