Tuesday, May 10, 2016

That Red Feeling

People think that I never get mad but that's not true. I get mad just like everyone else but I know how destructive anger can be so I try to quash it the moment I notice it flaring up.

Anger is violent and pointless. Actually, pointless isn't really the word. Anger can be good if it's challenged or focused. What I mean is that the typical actions of an angry person don't serve to make them feel any better.

A person makes you mad, you punch them. Suddenly you feel sorry for your snap reaction and on top of still feeling those burning embers you have that cold feeling of sadness to go along with it. An inanimate object makes you mad, you break it. Now you have the additional repair expenses on top of your previous rage making you even angrier than you were before. Someone says something that offends you and you relive every time you looked the other way as you ready your rebuttal. You begin fueling your own rage nurturing it, growing it, so that by the time you've gathered your thoughts you can have a proper explosive argument.

Anger is pointless. I learned that long ago. It's a byproduct of something crappy happening in your life and your reactions to it just serve to hurt you further. I've developed my ability to let go of my anger and channel that excess energy into something productive. When I get mad I once resorted immediately to violence, but now my first reaction has been downgraded to annoyance as I think about how I will have to reorganize my day and work around these feelings. Someone says something insulting, sigh, I guess I'll have to go to the gym. An inanimate object breaks down, sigh, I guess I'd better go for a walk.

This has served me well over the years and has earned me a reputation as quite a happy guy. People see me lifting weights and don't realize that each repetition is another insult I've let slide. I walk past my neighbours and they wave, not realizing it was either this or get into a shouting match with someone. The screen is filled with the bloody explosions of an action movie as no one realizes I'm living vicariously through the main character.

Writing this makes me sound like some horrible person with violence on their mind twenty four seven, but I believe that this is a very mature reaction to have. We've all heard how holding in your emotions will lead to the inevitable explosion, worst than if they had never held them in at all, but these all sound like mindless platitudes, repeated over and over because we know that this is what we should do. Surely finding constructive outlets for that cauldron we all have burning inside of us is a good thing?

But what do you do when that object breaks, that insult is heard, that offense taken, and you can't find the outlet you need? What happens when you're stuck somewhere. Jaw flexing uncontrollably. Cold tingles and goosebumps erupting on your skin. Arms twitching with barely controlled restraint as you mash the keyboard, each keystroke sounding like a blow. What do you do when you can't find a gym? When you can't leave your desk for a walk? When you can't pop in a violent DVD?

First you start to panic. What will happen if someone interrupts me in my time of weakness? Will I snap and attack them? You sit and feel the muscles in your arm and dread the damage you would do. Was your heart always beating that fast? Are you only noticing it now because you've begun thinking about it? You need to relax, you've stopped tapping the keyboard and are instead pounding it into submission. Please, oh please just give me some space so I can calm down.

Sometimes a simple joke can be enough to calm you down and give you an outlet for that pent up energy. Like how despite my temper problems, or maybe even because of them, my favourite superhero is The Incredible Hulk. I have reminders of him everywhere, a superhero calendar, a stuffed bear in his likeness, even a green water bottle. Which reminds me, why is a character who is associated so completely with anger, coloured green? When I think green I think of sickness or nature. When I think of anger I see only red. Even when I try to describe what it feels like to be so angry I can only say that it just FEELS red. I've never seen red like the old saying goes, but I have felt it. It doesn't make any sense to say it but I feel like if I were to close my eyes and just focus hard enough I could almost see it, sort of like a word that's on the tip of your tongue or a muscle you don't know how to flex. It's there, just out of reach.

I write and I write and as the words flow forth I can feel my pulse slow. My cold skin warms and my goosebumps recede. My breathing returns to normal. I can feel the ache begin in my arms as the finally stop flexing. That red feeling is gone and now I can't even remember what it was like. It's like a dream how it was so vivid and there but now that it's over I can't even fully describe it.

I sigh in relief as I hit save after finding a brand new outlet.

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