“You want to know my secret, Cap? I’m always angry.” – Dr. Bruce Banner
This is the last of the FLAWS AND ALL essays, and I saved the one I’m most ashamed of for last. This is the one that dominates and overshadows all of the other flaws. I am a very angry man. When I say angry, I don’t mean I transform into a giant green, purple-pants-wearing rage monster. That would be kinda badass especially if I could break Dayton.
Yes, break Dayton and watch the ruins burn… Josh, smash!
Anyway, I admit I have a temper, but it’s a really passive aggressive temper, which turns me into a dark and brooding bastard. I don't hit people, I don’t break things, and except on the most extreme occasions, I don’t yell. What I do is much more pathetic. I stew in my anger and allow it to permeate every other part of my life. The anger builds and condenses until all I have is this black hole of irrational rage buried deep in my liver sucking all the joy out of my life. I suspect it looks like a demonic magic 8 ball.
I thought for a long time I could control and redirect my anger, and for a while I did. But as the years went by and the symptoms of my bipolar disorder increased, it became harder and harder to control the anger let alone shunt it to a place where it couldn’t hurt anyone. It all reached a climax in the spring of 2011 when I decided to leave my wife.
Let me rewind and give you the entire story.
In 2007 I drove my family into financial ruin because I was too proud to tell my wife how bad our financial situation was. We collapsed and were forced to declare bankruptcy, but in the process, I had a nervous breakdown and attempted suicide for the second and final time in my life. When the dust settled my bipolar depression was in full bloom and my anger toward my wife was growing unchecked.
My wife is wonderful, and she did nothing wrong and deserved none of the negative emotions I directed towards her. The problem was she was intertwined with the things making me so upset, and she was also the one person I was sure would love me no matter what and therefore she was the lightning rod for my darkness. I’m still so ashamed of what happened.
Everything that happened—the car breaking down, the kids acting up, the overdrawn bank account, and the constant plumbing and electrical issues I blamed on her. It was her fault we had the seven-year loan on the car as opposed to the five even though it would’ve only been twenty dollars more a month. It was her fault we'd been suckered into buying a house that was falling apart, over priced, and beyond our means. None of these were her fault, but in my mind it all was.
I told you my passive aggressive anger makes me a real bastard.
In the spring of 2011, my internal anger destroying me. I told my wife I wanted a divorce. It was a horrible day of tears, anger on both sides, and conversation. The conversation was the important part. We hadn’t actually talked in years and in the end that talk saved us. Anger and sadness were vented, and when we were done, I knew I still loved her more than anyone in the world, and that none of my problems were her doing.
I want to say after that cathartic night everything was better and I’ve had a better handle on my anger for the last five and a half years. I wish I could, but if I did it’d be a lie. I fight my anger and the accompanying self-loathing every hour of every day. Has it gotten easier to deal with? Yes, between my medication and keeping a constant open dialog with my wife things are better. But I will never be able to let my guard down. I will always be angry and because of that I will always be cautious.