Sunday, 1 September 2013

The Anger - or what I learned from a brief tour into the brain of an abuser

Angry Tee
I always feel the Anger in the chest first. On the exact spot where I imagine my heart is. It starts as a tension. A dull cramp that grabs the heart with a force I can feel all the way through my body, back to my spine. As if I am being impaled. Slowly bored through by a stake of Anger. Probably made out of steel, or blackened burned sharpened wood or something like that. Like one of those stakes Buffy carries along.

But I aint no vampire. I am a normal girl. In fact, I am a NICE girl. One of those girls who grew up without making any fuss. No tantrums as a child, no pre-pubertal mischief or teenage shenanigans. No questioning of authority, no deviations from normality. All nice.

A boy would have had a different normality to live up to. His Anger would have been expected. He would have been assumed to fight for his right to play with the toys in pre-school, be aggressively pubertal in his teens, and defend his woman's honour in adulthood. His anger would have been expected.

But I aint no boy. I behaved just as expected. Always. Well, almost..

The Anger always come in short bursts and strong flairs. Like that time when I was 14 and my new pair of jeans (an excellent pair of stonewashed Crocker's) felt too tight and I suddenly screamed, cried and pulled large tufts out of my hair. Or when I was 17 and cooking dinner and salted the food too much and screamed and threw a plate in the wall. Or that time in my mid 20s, when my opinion was dismissed in discussion at a party and I kicked a man hard on the shins. And now, two weeks ago, when the most moral man I know told me I was behaving ridiculously, and all I wanted to do was to punch him in the face. Hard.
A flair of Anger can be powerful and
completely uncharacteristic of your  own being
Every point in time when this has happened - sudden flairs of chest pain and Anger - have always been followed by a complete sense of misery. I have always hated myself. Completely. For not being able to control my feelings. For not behaving as expected of a nice girl.
But two weeks ago, when I suddenly felt the type of Anger that would have turned me into a domestic abuser, I came to an important realisation.

First, I'd like to make it clear that I do not believe that were as humans are built like pressure cookers - that feelings of sadness or anger can build up inside until we have "a good cry" or "a fight waiting to happen". Our brains are more sophisticated than that. In fact I think it might actually be harmful to always act on our feelings, as it will create a possibly damning behavioural pattern. If there is anything we humans are good at it is getting into habits. There are many people out there with a habit of crying, getting angry, or depressed. And I believe a change in behaviour is the only thing that can help. What was it Einstein said?
Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result

However; what my insight into an abusers brain (which at that microsecond happened to be my own) made me realise was the incredible danger we are putting people in by assuming a predetermined behaviour.

I grew up behaving exactly as I was expected to behave. However, that turned out not to be at all suitably to my true being. My Anger was not allowed, so instead of acknowledging to myself that my feeling were allowed I built them up inside and only let them come out in strong flares - which only led me feeling more miserable. Human phycology is obviously exceptionally complex, but I think we can all agree that one sure way of making an unhappy human being is to suppress her natural behaviour.

This leads to a ridiculous situation where little girls are assumed to be all nice and quiet, boys are assumed to be loud and aggressive, teenagers are assumed to be moody and hostile, women are assumed to be vulnerable, have shallow interests and gossip about their friends, men are assumed to be strong and intelligent and have uncomplicated sport-centered friendships.

If we happen to come across an individual whom's true natural behaviour matches all our assumptions, then I think we would be very lucky indeed. We are all humans and our behaviour spans over the whole register to varying degrees no matter what gender, and obviously also no matter what skin colour, background or education we happen to have been blessed with.

Assumptions are likely to make us all unhappy and if we are really unlucky they might make us behave in a way that not only hurt others, but is against our own true beliefs.
Let's do our best to open our minds a little and throw our assumptions away.

I wonder how much things like these help cement our assumptions of children's behaviour?
Will it make girl behave less angrily than she really might feel?
Will it make a boy behave more angrily than he is comfortable with?

Sometimes all it takes is a clever comedian to point
out how much we actually assume about each other, (and our dress sense! :D)

//  Tee  -- Wanted to write a short story, but had a brain full of mess. So thought I'd have a bit of a Tee-rant instead :)


  1. They hit me and I never hit back.
    They hurt me, but I hurt noone.
    Eight years they hit me. I never hit back.
    I couldn't get angry. I am almost never angry.
    I walked away and cried. Then tried to keep away.
    Once or twice I told adults. They didn't help.
    Told me to tough up.
    Once or twice I told my father. He didn't help.
    Told me that whoever joined the game must endure the game.
    I never joined any game. It joined me.
    Boys will be boys.
    So I stopped to tell adults.
    I asked God, why was I born a boy?
    I got no reply and I ask God no more.

    When school was up I continued to hide. To keep away.
    Years passed. Without relations, I couldn't practice social conduct.
    After my diagnosis I got the chance I return to school as adult.
    I wanted to know why people discriminate against those who do not fit.
    Turned out I was a quick learner, at least.
    So I studied to save my life. Literaly.
    I now have friends. I have learned to talk.
    I have learned how to communicate. How to blend in.
    How to be a person. How to get respect. How to give respect.
    Found people who accept me for who I am, what I am.
    Found I wasn't as useless as I was lead to believe.

    20 years have passed since I left those corridors.
    But the wounds have not healed.
    When I remember I still feel no anger.
    All I feel is pain, shame, humiliation.
    I crawl up in a ball. I wish to disappear. In shame.

    I have been told it was my fault.
    I didn't hit back. I refused to strike. I refused to be a man.
    I was weak.

    Sometimes I feel guilty.
    It was my fault. I didn't do what was expected of me.
    But it was not that I refused to commit.
    I *could* not commit.
    I *was* no "boy".

    1. Wow...

      "Found people who accept me for who I am, what I am.
      Found I wasn't as useless as I was lead to believe."


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