Saturday, April 22, 2006


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.


Spider said...

Nate, PLEASE don't feel shame... you had to get that anger out - if kept inside you it would have just sat there and grown and the later explosion would have been worse...

A therapist once told me, for what it is worth, that anything said during sex or during a raging argument should not be believed unless it is said again outside of those circumstaces...

I admire your honesty and braveness to post this - you are a very strong man - I wish I had some of your strength...

Bigg said...

I am familiar with this rage. As a father, and as a man.
Rather than bore you with a long rumination on it, I would just like to say that I know both your loss of control and your shame.
I salute you for the honesty of this post.
I wish I could tell you that it will get better -- but I'm still fighting it, too.
I wish you strength in the fight, and offer you any support I might be able to give.

Brad said...

Patience is a virtue that I realize will always be just outside of my grasp.

Ask Justin. He could tell you that I do lose control.

Trust me when I tell you Nate, I yell much louder than anyone in my home.

I am a product of the environment that I was raised in. I wanted, more than anything, to be different than my parents.

I still, after a lot of work on my part, find myself slipping into the rage you describe.

But, Nate, not nearly as often.

You and I are still worthy of love. We just can't be or have everything perfect. You know. The way we imagine in our minds.

That pisses me off too.

Hugs, bud.

Ian said...


I don't know if you'll find this more helpful or disturbing, but the rage you describe reminds me of the berserkergang, an alternate state of conscousness that the berserkers of legend would enter into before going into battle.

This is what "Shades" has to say on the berserkergang:

"This fury, which was called berserkergang, occurred not only in the heat of battle, but also during laborious work. Men who were thus seized performed things which otherwise seemed impossible for human power. This condition is said to have begun with shivering, chattering of the teeth, and chill in the body, and then the face swelled and changed its color. With this was connected a great hot-headedness, which at last gave over into a great rage, under which they howled as wild animals, bit the edge of their shields, and cut down everything they met without dicriminating bewteen friend or foe. When this condition ceased, a great dulling of the mind and feeble- ness followed, which could last for one or several days (Fabing, p. 234).

During the berserkergang, the berserk seemed to lose all human reason, a condition in which he could not distinguish between friend and enemy, and which was marked by animalistic screaming."

woe said...

Beautifully achingly honest post. Nate you are a man of courage my friend.

Restored Vows said...

I've been accused of "psycho-babble" by Mobius Flip, so here is my two-cents of unsolicited professional advice: anger management classes.

I am a social worker working as a substance abuse counselor. One of the classes as part of our curriculum is "anger management". You could also do a Google search on the subject.

I'm not dogging you...just some friendly professional advice.

I also identify as a "Bi-MWM"....Hope this helps.

A Troll At Sea said...

well, how close I have come to this, only my children's fears and pushing of my buttons is many years back now...
What resonates with me, having re-read your answers to "Troll's questions", is the refrain "thirty years", "thirty years". A generation can be really be a lifetime.
This is going to be a week of confrontation, not anything premeditated or angry, but the necessary consequence of meeting with my counselor and psychiatrist before my wife takes off for two months, and the arrival of an Old Friend who now has had the whole story [at least her best friend's take on it] laid out in some detail.
This is where the cost of coming out comes home to roost.
Wish me luck.

ps: thanks again for your honest answers, and congratulations on mastering the color thing...