Saturday, February 2, 2013

My Father, My Dark Mirror

It seems that we see reflections of ourselves in everything. It's part of being human, I suppose. It's how our human brain functions and copes with the greater world. The reflections I see often drive me to shame and self-loathing. They're dark and twisted and hopeless.

Anger has been at the core of my personality for so very long. There was a time when I believed it to be necessary and even possessed a sort of perverse pride in it. It was the badge I openly wore and my defining characteristic, for those who really knew me. Not only did it feel natural (which was why I felt such an affinity for it), it was also something powerful which I shared with the one person who seemed closest to me through childhood, my father.

My dad is a man with many problems. I hear tell that he was once a kind and caring soul, but I've seen little evidence to support this. I grew up with an overly opinionated man who did what he wanted, when he wanted, and it didn't matter how horrible things had to become for everyone else so that he could, in some way, be happy. He was stubborn and chose to marry my mother, a stubborn woman, so their arguments were frequent and were often as extreme in their violence as a wild and massive storm. It was common when my mother was hurt, my sister was hurt, and I was hurt; all of us were victims in the wake of a man who, I believe, was also dealing with his own pain. My father raged often and without reason, it seemed. He resembled a dumb beast, wantonly tearing apart his environs, the cage which was his life. I saw through to this beast and, in doing so, recognized my own. It was this horrid, shared feature which bonded us.

Often I'll hear people, mostly other men, describe the ferocity of their anger and almost boast with the pride I once held for mine. I find such behavior and claims amusing, and still to this day, though I've recognized and struggled to subdue the violent fury inside of me, I believe them to be mistaken when it comes to assessing true anger. My rage was, and can still at times be, like a legion of cold, heartless primitives, each armed with spiked clubs, which would descend disastrously upon whomever or whatever triggered it. What I knew myself to be capable of doing, and what others had described me doing, seemed to outstrip the proud tales of those boastful, "angry" men.

It took a great deal of time and a person who truly cared for me to shake me out of my tempestuous mindset. My wife proposed contemplation and that contemplation drove me to reflection. I thought about the shame I felt for my father, and in doing so I realized that I had more shame for myself. Memories of the wild evil perpetrated by my dad made me think about the horrors to which I had so often giddily applied my own warped signature. If I didn't take the initiative and climb out of the murky pit I was willfully inhabiting, I knew that I would twist and corrode into the shape which represented my father.

I work at it, and I do so often. I second guess my reactions, and I keep my mouth shut. I always have worn a mask of quiet smiles so that others wouldn't see what I was truly capable of doing. Now I attempt to be real and to dispense with the anger which would always bleed out as my initial response to most things. I attempt to brighten my perspectives, embrace the shame I create for myself, and take comfort in the love of my wife. I continue to work so that I don't slip back, so that I don't allow the beast to envelop me as my father allowed his at some point in time long ago.

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