I was an angry young man. I didn't know this at the time. I did a lot of crazy, and self destructive things to myself. There was almost no forethought before I did things, so I just did them. It is funny that people can exist in a clueless condition, completely unaware of themselves.
It is also frightening to me to think that I could have gone on much longer without even getting a clue to my underlying motivations.
I had bad things done to me as a child by a family member, but at an age when I was too young to fully understand what had happened. When you are a child you think that those things are somehow normal, even though you know that you don't like them. Then in your pre-teen years you begin to understand your body, and you get some sex education in school then suddenly you are forced to confront some ugly things. It is like a time-release poison because just as you come to grips with one incident, you then remember something else, and so you are thrown into another whirlpool of emotional confusion.
I was lucky in that I got help in my sophomore year in high school. I was directed to a psychologist who was able to guide me in evaluating my feelings. Which lead to my ability to understand the underlying motivations behind some of the stupid things I was doing. I reached a point to where I felt in control enough to stop going to this doctor. I think I had gone as far as I could anyway. I then entered the second phase of my life. I became a musician and pursued a brief studio career. I began playing guitar in my Freshman year in high school, and I practiced four to six hours every day. EVERY DAY. I took theory classes at the junior college, as well as private lessons. When I listen to the old tapes from those days I hear an intensity that is missing from my playing today. I have said before that I would eventually quit from the stress of studio work, and the hassles of being a guitar player. I still play today but there is no drive for me to take it out of the bedroom.
Something changed in 1990.
My dad (the offending family member) died. We would find out through his autopsy that his actions were caused from brain trauma. So he had no real control over his impulses. This was liberating for me because I feared that my father's behavior would be transmitted to me in much the same way as a werewolf curse. With the knowledge that my father's condition was organic and exclusive to him I was able to relax. The other thing that happened was that I was no longer angry at my father, and I suddenly felt a great weight lifted from me. What I didn't expect was that this revelation would lead to the next phase of my life, and in many ways it would be much harder.
With my deep-rooted anger gone, my life had no foundation to orbit around. The anger of my past had so much defined who I was that without it I lost all direction in my life. I suddenly had nothing to prove, no chip on my shoulder, and I no longer walked with the swagger of an angry man. The problem was that I found that I had lost my ability to assess certain situations and judge people. So I was soon taken advantage of by people that the "Old Me" would have seen coming a mile away. So I began to withdraw from people. My social life evaporated, and my life became work. In 2001, I was laid off after a devastating injury, so I found myself angry once again. I picked up and wore my anger like one would wear a favorite set of clothes from their youth that still fit perfectly. My anger quickly gave me direction again and I was soon learning new things, and began research on my book. It has lead me back to school, and driven me to study hard.
While I hate being angry all the time, I like what my anger does for me. I have a direction again, and I'm moving along with great velocity. I'm not drinking booze nor using drugs, and I'm not using my anger in social settings to justify using women (as I did when I was younger). I go to school, then go to work, and then I come home. The only expression of anger is on my TV screen as I blast Nazis on my X-Box360. What I worry about today is what else is my anger doing to me? Since I was so unaware of how anger affected my life when I was young, it is not unreasonable to assume that I still have a blind-spot. Am I ignoring a chance a love? Have I turned a blind eye to a life-changing opportunity?
I guess that because I'm writing this I may actually be in good shape. That I can still self-evaluated is probably a good sign. I have my fingers crossed.