Anger management

Monday, December 7, 2009


My paternal lineage is quite interesting for anger management.

My grandfather came back from Kokoda with PTSD that was never diagnosed or treated. We're fairly sure he's repressed strong homosexuality. He's spent his entire life in a storm of fear and anger, making every person he meets miserable so that he won't be alone is his depression.

My father is the life of the party and generally very nice guy. He taught for years and was favourite teacher and later lecturer to thousands and thousands of students. He is a fantastic speaker and does radio and television bytes on a regular basis and his audience loves him. His temper is almost invisible until it flares.

Dad has what he describes as 'Joan moments' - they're called Joan moments because when Joan of Arc was on the cross, about to be burned, they said to her 'Say you're sorry, and we'll let you live' and Joan looked at them and said 'Fuck you. Somebody's going to die, it might be me, but somebody's going to die'. When dad's temper flares - he has no sense of self preservation - something gets destroyed - no matter the cost.

I once saw dad raise the height of a doorway in our house, with a chainsaw. He'd hit his head three times in a row on the door frame, the third time hard enough to put himself on his knees. He didn't say a word as he stormed out to the yard, grabbed the chainsaw and extended the door frame. My mother was standing near by, trying to convince him to check if there were any electrical cables in that wall, or if that wall was perhaps structural. He didn't pause.

On one hand, that anger makes him one of the most ruthlessly effective people I have ever known. As a manager - he is stunningly effective as a head kicker and change motivator - and he has some surreal gift that still makes people love him even after working for him.

On the other hand - I've seen his temper cost him tens of thousands of dollars, over the most retarded matters of principle.

My temper is a long, slow fuse. I am incredibly patient with people I like. But my anger is the biggest driving force behind my creativity. Rage has inspired every really great piece of writing I've ever produced. Rage has been the main motivator behind some of the proudest moments of my life. Rage has given me clarity when everyone around me was blind.

I think Anger is like any emotion - it makes fools of the foolish, but it's still a perfectly useful tool if you can make it work for you.