Those who know me well would be surprised to hear that I once had issues with anger management, those who know me best would simply say “oh yes, I remember those days.” I’m very laid back by nature, easy to get on with, never aggressive, never violent, wouldn’t hurt a fly kinda guy – but there was a period in my life where no wall, glass, plate, mobile phone or remote control was safe from my temper.
Going back a few years I remember realising there was a problem when I saw my Mum’s face at the site of a hole I’d put in my bedroom wall. We were decorating and I’d forgotten that one of my posters had been concealing the aftermath of a tantrum I’d had when I’d gotten into trouble for something my Sister had done. What my Mum didn’t know however was that this was anything but an isolated incident, nor was it the last.
Looking back now the majority of my outbursts stemmed from being in very toxic relationships. With that in mind I guess it’s important to highlight that I’ve never physically hurt anyone and as much as you lose control in that split second I always knew I didn’t have it in me to do that. The real concern was the hurt I was causing myself. When it comes to anger there are a couple of moments from the past that really stand out for me. The first being when I broke my hand. I’d had a history with partition walls but punching a supporting beam was a different kind of fight. I’d been in a relationship which to this day still represents a huge learning curve for me when it comes to relationships. I’d put up with a hell of a lot in this relationship and without going into too much detail a lot of revelations came out which still baffle me to this day. Punching a wall wasn’t even an initial reaction, it was the following day when my ex tried to defend what had to be described as the indefensible. The unusual thing about anger is that nothing is planned or pre-meditated, it’s like something else completely takes over and in the space of mere seconds it goes from just a feeling inside you, to quite serious physical pain. That’s what happened to me, I didn’t want to punch the wall and I certainly didn’t plan to, it just happened.
My hand was pretty much stuck in one position and a few hours later I came to the conclusion that it was broken. I went to A&E only to find that the fracture clinic wasn’t open on a Sunday and I was promptly sent home where I slept on the floor all night with my hand balanced on a cushion. The next day I went back to hospital where I made up some spiel about dropping furniture on my hand, the Doctor just laughed and left the room. A few minutes later he returned with my x-ray and showed me what he explained is commonly known as ‘a boxers fracture’ – that’s when I told him the truth. He was actually quite amused and simply said “man versus wall, man never win” – little did he know I was 21-0 until that point, but 21-1 wasn’t a bad record to finish up with.
The other occasion which has well and truly lived long in the memory was punching through a large framed picture. It smashed everywhere and I had tiny shards of glass stuck in my knuckles for days, I could hear a kind of crunching every time I flexed my hand. Need I say more?
There’s nothing big or tough about these kinds of outbursts, trust me when I say I look back with nothing but embarrassment. As much as I knew I wouldn’t physically hurt anyone else, I can’t guarantee that they knew that themselves and the thought of anyone being even remotely scared of me quickly fills me with shame. If anyone reading this is suffering with anger issues, then you will know exactly what I mean by that split second of losing control. Well what happens when that split second progresses into something more? That’s when things could get really scary. There’s no shame in admitting you have a problem, the real shame is when you let that problem hurt or scare innocent bystanders. What people need to realise is that when you reach a certain stage, getting help becomes only a win-win situation.
Seeking help was a massive weight off my shoulders. I’d decided to go and speak to someone and do what I try and encourage all men to do more frequently – open up. I told this woman more than I’d ever told anyone in my life, I got every single little thing off my chest and guess what – I loved it and I mean I absolutely loved it. I used to look forward to my weekly session like it was a cup final. It was so good to just put everything out there and listen to an impartial person give their feedback. As it turned out I was just a normal guy who’d let too many problems build up for far too long and with every angry outburst a little more was spilling out. It made perfect sense, I always knew it wasn’t in my nature to behave the way I was.
What really bugs me is when people dismiss the idea of seeking help for whatever reason. Maybe it’s a pride thing or maybe it just feels too much like weakness, but in my opinion admitting you have a problem and seeking help to fix it is a truly incredible sign of strength. We’re only human after all and humans have problems, why would you not fix those problems whilst you still have the chance? What I’ve learnt from my own experiences is that problems with anger can happen to just about anyone, even me. It’s been three years since I sought help and I’m pleased to say I’ve never punched or broken anything since. Take it from me, a full crockery cupboard, an uncracked iphone, a working remote control and no more plastering bills is a much simpler and happier world to live in.
How do you deal with anger?