September 22, 2000
I am a 54 year old man and a
recovering alcoholic with over 20 years of sobriety. I am a counselor and that makes me
a professional. I am married
over 10 years and have recently taken inventory of a level of anger I can
now see as rage and take stock of self righteous “criticism” I can now
see as abuse. I guess this
makes me a professional abuser.
I am the eldest of 3 boys raised by a
mother and father who were both children of alcoholics. My father’s father committed
suicide after years of alcoholism, compulsive gambling, and wife beating. My father was 17. My mother’s father, also an alcoholic, abandoned the family
when his wife died in childbirth with the 10th child. Dad grew up in a house of
violence. Mom grew up in an
orphanage. In high school,
they “found each other.” As
childhood sweethearts, they eventually married and undoubtedly (they never
talked to their children about THEMSELVES) decided it would “be
different” for their children. They would provide the security and stability for their kids
so missing in their own lives. THEY
didn’t have a drinking problem and life was STABLE.
My father worked for 46 years for
a fortune 500 company rising from desk clerk to office manager. He was there long enough to help
two “trainees” eventually leave the corporation and start their own
businesses. Each of them
asked my father to become their partner.
They wanted only his expertise, not the money he didn’t have
anyway. He turned them both
down afraid to leave the “corporate security.” When I entered college in 1964 (on
scholarship), my father was making $8,00 a year. Each of these men had already
become millionaires. I worked
for one of them briefly after graduating college while awaiting my first
“real” job. Fear ran my
father’s life. A fear he
never understood and tried to release my controlling everything around
him. It made him a great
office manager. He was
‘efficient’ to a fault and made Lots of Money for the Other People
(salesman with bonuses based on expenses/revenues). He was a caring man who grew up
trying to protect his mother and failed.
When my mother got breast cancer in her 30’s, he was back in the
role of ‘savior.’ When
the cancer spread to her spine and she died at age 46; he had failed
again. All his controlling
couldn’t save her or stop 3 sons from becoming alcoholic. He lived until age 79 and never
had a date with a woman. He
stopped failing. Or did he
In my childhood, there was no violence
and no PHYSICAL abandonment and compared to my parents, nobody got hurt.
But no one knew how to talk about feelings.
My parents never dealt with their rage, they just worked. So nobody got hurt but EVERYBODY
GOT LEFT OUT because nobody got connected. Without talk there is no truth. Without truth there is no trust. Without trust there is anxiety and
shame instead of security and self esteem.
Without emotional nurturing, there is a breeding ground for RAGE. This rage ‘floats’ on this sea
Unlike my father, I was an active
alcoholic BEFORE my mother died. I was an Eagle Scout who had signed several of the merit
badges and an altar boy who was shoplifting from the local department
store. After my mother’s
death, I was also using drugs and committing robberies. How does this happen? A little bit of chemical, and a
whole lot of RAGE.
I graduated college and went to work
in corporate America. I
probably would’ve stayed there for 46 years but I was an alcoholic and
had trouble staying ‘within the lines.’
I married a nurse at age 25 for all the wrong reasons. She figured that out in marital
counseling 7 years later and left to save herself. We had a son who was 4 years old. When he was 5, I finally stopped
drinking after 7 hospitalizations. I
was sober and VERY DEPRESSED. 5
years of intensive psychotherapy and 1,000 AA meetings later, I was out of
my depression and into my life. With
“all the insight in the world,” I married a woman I (thought) I could
save. I GAVE HER
EVERYTHING!!! I supported her
through school and a master’s degree and waited for her to “grow
up.” The problem was I
wanted her to grow up on my terms.
And that isn’t LOVE no matter how well intentioned in the adult
world. It’s CONTROL!! And it’s FEAR based. And
it doesn’t work. As my wife
reacted to my “constructive criticism” regarding the ‘direction and
pace’ of her growth with resentment, I became indignant. Self-righteous indignation is Rage
in its most cancerous form. Call
it false pride, hubris, egomania, narcissism – it’s all the same. It’s denial of the
responsibility all adults have to TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES.
It’s also a spiritual problem. Love thy neighbor is REALLY Love
Thy Neighbor as THYSELF. In
fact, you can ONLY love your neighbor (or your wife or your friends or
WHOMEVER) as you love Yourself!!
Love is the ability to give. If
you don’t ‘got;’ you have only a good intention. I’m not sure what Hell is, but I
hear the path is paved with Good Intentions.
I wound up in hell. And ‘with the grace of God’
acting in ‘strange ways,’ I began losing control of my life, my wife,
and my “little boy” who was now 27 years old and moving 2,000 miles
away. I ‘let go’ because
I couldn’t hang on and I went back to my therapist who said it was time
to take inventory.
That is not when I saw the anger. I knew about the anger. That is when the rage “revealed
itself” as the cancer it had become; in my head, in my life, in my
marriage. It has not been an
easy year. Looking at my
defects has been tough. But
healing has begun and in the wake of my father’s death 3 years ago, a
new scenario is unfolding compared to the destruction after Mom passed
away. Mom died and I “was
mad at the world.” This
time I got ‘mad at my rage.’ It
was consuming me as surely as the alcohol had two decades ago.
The real problem with examining your
rage is you can’t do it realistically without viewing your abuse. This process is filled with shame. Holding onto the rage means
I don’t have to look at my shame. It
also means I have to live with both of them. I found out I can’t do this and
live with myself. At least,
not with any comfort.
I had become a man in his 50’s
respected by the community with a rage problem (mostly) limited to the
confines of my home. It was
ONLY affecting my marriage. And
where I lived. So YOU WORK AS
MANY HOURS AS POSSIBLE making $ to buy things you could enjoy if you had
any inner peace.
If you want to be sick, you’d be
better off addicted to heroin. There
is a MUCH BIGGER payoff. Or
you could get well. We say,
“If I don’t have my health, I have nothing.” As a recovering addict, I
discovered I was a physical, mental, and spiritual creature who needed to
be Healthy in 3 systems. My
physical health (God Bless) had held up and I was an ORDAINED MINISTER who was marrying people but couldn’t fix his own
marriage because HE COULDN’T SEE HIS OWN ABUSE.
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me. I was lost but now I’m found, I was blind but now I see.”
Thank you G, but your comment is
misleading. You see gang, G is my very dear friend, confidant, colleague,
teacher, advisor, therapist. What G credits me with is telling it straight
and telling him when I got real mad with him. He did the rest.
G’s presence in my life has been pivotal in developing my thinking of abuse phenomena - and much, much more.
One example: I was such a chicken, who knows if I would have ever made the
scary leap into private practice without him... So, I too can say, “I truly
could not have done this without G…”
Pps: Things do happen exactly
the way they are supposed to…
I love you G, i
I want to read the comments.