The Beast Within

Image result for the beast within - angerIt’s after 9:30 PM as I start to write. This is not a studied or nuanced piece, but my raw emotions.

I got angry last week. It wasn’t the little anger that you feel when you drop and spill or break something. No, this was the intense, hard-to-control kind. It shocked me. I didn’t think I was capable of that much anger anymore. It scared me, too.

Nearly four years ago, I began to turn my life around by God’s help and grace. Before that I was a very angry, frustrated, and hopeless man. When I was diagnosed with clinical depression in 1999, I lost everything. I could no longer do my calling as a pastor/teacher. It was all gone. My self identity was shattered. Although I reinvented myself as a counselor, I was angry because I couldn’t do what I had been doing for 25 years. You might say I was grieving and got stuck in the angry stage.

I was angry, too, because my wife withdrew her emotional support from me at a time I really needed her. Instead of working on our marriage and being loyal to our vows, she chose to make our children, her family, and a host of other things her priorities. I often told her I was number 25 on her list and she never objected to my description. Out of necessity, she went to work outside the home and became a self-sufficient, independent woman to whose world I no longer belonged. We remained married for another 14 years, but it was in name only.

I tried to save our marriage, but I grew frustrated with each effort. It seemed all communication from me was lost on her and all communication from her was lost on me. I couldn’t understand her either and she didn’t try to understand me. The more I tried the more frustrated and angry I became.  It was a hopeless situation, but I never stopped trying until I felt released by God from my vows.

When I made genuine, positive changes in my life. She did not see them and did not believe them. I admit I raised my voice, yelled, at her from time to time from the beginning of our marriage. But, when I finally got a handle of control on it and used only a conversational tone, I was still accused of yelling. When I became less rigid on keeping a tight schedule, she didn’t believe it and treated me as before. Any changes I made went unnoticed or unbelieved. I was trying to grow, but in her eyes I was still mired in my bad behaviors of the past.

All of this built-up over the years and when the depression became severe, I became an out-of-control angry man. I yelled. I threw things. I intimidated. I punched things. I hated the man I’d become, but seemed powerless to change. But, that all ended a few years back or at least I thought it did.

Last week that kind of intense anger showed its ugly head again. I hadn’t been that angry since before my ex-wife and I separated and divorced. I thought it was dead, but it came alive again so frighteningly. Oh, I handled it much better than before. I didn’t yell, throw things, intimidate, or punch anything. I kept my voice to a conversation tone, left quickly, and shut myself in my room until my anger dissipated.

I regret that someone saw me that way. I’m sorry that the person cried and felt afraid. I am sorry for one sentence I uttered, “I hate myself when I’m like this,” because it sent out a very negative message the person did not need to hear.

It scared me that I could still get that angry. Although I handled it well, not perfect mind you, I was afraid of what I was capable of in that frame of mind. It has shaken me up pretty good. I vowed to God, my family, and myself that I would never let myself get that angry again. There were too many flashbacks to an unseemly time when I was out of control. Immediately, I put into place a plan to prevent myself from getting escalated ever again and talked it over with my counselor and one of my support groups.

I am a different man than what I was, this incident proved it. I have grown. However, I came too close to becoming that man that I loathed. The beast is alive and my job is to never wake it again.

Oh, God, help me!   By Your grace, may I control my anger. Guard my heart from the extremes of my past. Oh, let me never be that old man ever again. May the resolve of my will and the discipline of my emotions be fully committed and guided by You. Amen.