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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Writer's Anger

As we discuss the impact of belief systems we are faced with two problems. The first problem is recognizing or identifying a faulty or non working belief system. If we are fortunate enough to self diagnose a bad belief, then our second problem is how to analyze it, accept it, and put it to bed. Change it from bad to good.

What I am about to describe here is an emotion and how I acquired it. I recognized that I had an anger problem which I thought I had taken care of. I mean, my false sense of self really believed that I had conquered anger. But in actuality, I had simply bottled anger up temporarily. It was always there. This then is how I diagnosed and treated myself. I will work backwards.

In the fall of 2007, I was writing a book in New Orleans. It was a spiritual book and as I approached Chapter 6, I ran into a major roadblock. I realized that I simply could not write about my childhood. It was just too negative. I had grown up in a very bitter marriage. My parents fought and argued virtually every day of my childhood. Sometimes these arguments escalated into physical fights. By all accounts, including my parents, it was a miserable existence but because of the faulty belief systems my parents had acquired-they stayed married.

As a result of this non stop arguing and fighting I became a child hostage and witness. I was powerless to stop it. Unfortunately, my parents' anger was not confined solely to their relationship and very often they would turn their attacks my way. By the time I was 13 or 14, I simply removed myself from the household at every opportunity thus reducing my exposure to that hostility. Often, I would get a dose of that hostility anyway. By the time I was 15, I began using alcohol and drugs which helped me escape my situation. I worked one or two jobs throughout high school which also helped me avoid the situation and gave me a legitimate excuse to not be present in the household. By the time I was ready to graduate from high school, my parents finally divorced. They had a very bitter divorce filled with hate and anger. In fact, some 30 years later, I'm not sure they are emotionally over it yet.

I acquired a few belief systems as a result of that situation. As a result of my parents fighting' I came to believe that I was responsible for their hatred of each other. Often they would tell me that I was was lazy, or that I was ungrateful, or that someday they hoped I had kids every bit as bad as I was. As a result I believed fighting was acceptable as a means of resolving conflict. I believed I was in fact, responsible for their hatred of each other, and that somehow I was just a bad kid. Very often, alcohol was involved in my parents' fights. I had made an assumption and acquired a belief system that left me angry and ill equipped to resolve my own conflicts.

So it was, I got into fights and argued with people. I did not apply myself in school because I BELIEVED I was no good therefore I simply didn't try to be. After all, what was the point? I drank heavily like my parents and interestingly enough, my siblings and I all failed to have children. As I grew older, my alcohol consumption increased. My relationships were fraught with the inability to resolve conflicts without fighting. And although I tried very hard not to become angry, or to simply hide it, I was in fact, a very angry person.

This is no indictment of my parents. I love them dearly. It is also not important to place blame or wallow in self pity. It is however, extremely important that you recognize your faulty beliefs, where you acquired them, to analyze them, and that you take action to accept and resolve them. For me it was very personal. Society tends to label you if you openly discuss these things. This then is what happened to me as I tried to write Chapter 6 of that book. Obviously today, I am grateful for what happened. I would not be here writing this.

Anger is always a result of fear and your inability to control situations. I was fearful and angry as a child. I was powerless to control any situation or effect a different outcome. As I grappled with that I began to understand why my own adult life had spun out of control. Ever the creative problem solver, I took action. I sought to understand. I spoke with my parents. Not seeking apologies, but simply seeking understanding. What I learned astounded me-but of course it had to be true. My parents were the products of faulty belief systems that were instilled in them. Their fears and lack of control manifested itself into anger and fighting. I was simply an unintended victim, collateral damage. They had no idea.

As a man I understand this all now. I was able to rid myself of my anger and gain acceptance. It was never personal. If in fact we can claim to be victims as children, as adults we must take the steps to undo this. At the point we recognize and understand, we can no longer be victims. We must re-learn new beliefs and gain acceptance. Your parents failings were never personal. We must forgive our parents and ourselves. As we crawl out of Plato's cave, we realize those shadows that represented our beliefs were in fact made by something that occurred long before we were born. We begin to see that the truth is not represented in whole as those images or shadows on the wall of the cave. We are about to examine the biggest shadow on the wall of that cave, that false image that manifests itself as our belief system and ego.

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