Letters For My Sons

Category: Marriage

volcanic rage eruption in a peaceful valley

The Emergence of Rage as Growth Indicator and Cultural Taboo


I sensed the tension rising.

Words between us were becoming crisp.  Sharp tones began to undercut the replies, and body language was shifting to defensive.

Neither of us wanted this conversation, but my wife and I knew it was inevitable.  Sitting in bed before breakfast, with the kids on our laps, it was possibly the worst timing for a discussion like this.  But the charges had been thrown, and we were now committed to seeing it through.

As quiet conversation, then sharp discussion, then abrasive argument persisted, I couldn’t shake a nagging feeling.  In the midst of the rising voices, something didn’t sit right. I had the distinct sensation that I been wronged. 

Exposure to Blunt Instruments

My historical reaction to this feeling had always been to ignore it and let myself be bludgeoned, taking one for the team, so to speak.  As everyone in a relationship knows, sometimes you just gotta hang up the gloves and let the other person have the last word.

But for me this habitual reaction was more than just compromising for our relationship’s sake.  I was actually unable to stand up for myself.

This reaction to argument came from my sordid childhood history of being wronged. I suffered at the hands of authoritarian parents, teachers and bullies.  They would ignore my supposedly childish reasons and reasonableness, refuse to empathise, shut down any right of reply, and belittle and threaten me afterwards when I was upset.  Emotional reactivity was seen as a threat, a threat no one was prepared to approach compassionately.

Authentic emotional response became scary, because of the threatening reactions of those closest to me.  Emotion always led to hurt.  Even the joyful exuberance of a child was controlled and shamed because it was too loud or enthusiastic. 

In response I had become a shadow of a person, restricting myself, holding my body tight and tense, keeping the emotions locked down.  I had no vocabulary for feeling, and my daily adult experience was grey and cold, a life lived in monochrome.

After this childhood of emotional shutdown, my automatic response to anger, sadness and rage in argument was to cut emotions off before they started. I started to use extreme rationality to wage siege warfare on my opponents defences, battering them down with cold logic. I copied the tactics of my earlier bullies, taunting adversaries for their over-emotiveness. 

This time was different.  

The Cultural Context of Anger

I had for years involved myself in self work, unlocking the vaults of my emotions.  Many of the people I talked to and the books I’d read talked about the subversion of anger and rage to something positive.  The men’s groups I’d attended discussed these emotions as things to be watched as they came up. The advocated overlord-style control lest they spill beyond the floodgates and cause permanent damage to one’s relationships. 

The common sentiment seemed to be one of lip service, that anger “was positive”, rage was not, and while it was important to feel the feelings, it was equally important to do so “in a safe place” so as not to hurt anyone.  In other words, people talked about the positivity of angry emotion, but when it came to the experience of truly feeling it there was precious little information about it. If one did experience it, it was best to find a small soundproof room and scream into a soft cushion (buy my Angry Unicorn Scream Pillow NOW on Amazon).

Anger is the modern cultural emotional taboo.  To show anger is to supposedly expose oneself as feeling too much, to be out of control, to actually care about something beyond what is culturally appropriate. 

Think about the last time you saw a public expression of anger.  Perhaps it was a couple you know at a dinner party.  A mid-manager in the office.  A drunk on the street.  What is your reaction?

We turn our heads.  We walk away.  We feel embarrassed.  

Why are we embarrassed?  

Is it the intensity of feeling that is hard to bear?  Seeing strong emotion publicly is difficult for modern western people.  Even witnessing pure joy, love or affection can be uncomfortable for many. We seem to like our emotional responses trimmed to a comfortable height. We want our sunflower fields short enough to see over.

Is it the razor sharpness of attitude, the thrusting, cutting, slicing nature of the angry sword that upsets us so?  We feel aghast at the blatancy of attack, the one-sidedness of the initial flurry. We see the unprepared opponent exposed to injury, neck bared, chest open and armourless.  

Do we feel vulnerable in ourselves when we witness anger, like an unprotected village seeing Mongols ride the adjoining plains? We empathise with the plight of the victim.

Or is it disdain and contempt mixed with pity, that a person cannot keep their emotions imprisoned like we can, locked in the basement until the floodwaters come…?

As I looked within and assessed the growing argument, the feeling of being wronged grew.  I felt increasingly uncomfortable with my silence on the subject. But without my conscious knowledge, decades of self work had left a jail cell unlocked.

One of the inmates opened its door.

Eruption

I felt a flame spurt to life within me.  

This is not a metaphor.  I mean, I was not literally on fire.  But what I felt was something catch into flame with a suddenness that momentarily confused me.  My belly roared to life with a power and energy I had not felt before, least not as an adult.  There was an sudden inferno within me, yet to my surprise this energy contained by my body was under my complete control.

The vibration of an power so pure as to leave me no doubt of its name rose along the centre of my body.  I was sitting on the bed and I felt my belly and my chest grow red, and then white hot.  Pure rage swelled my blood vessels and pulsed smoothly and forcefully through my veins.  I regarded these powerful impulses as though detached from my body, admiring their power, marvelling at a feeling I did not know I had the power to experience. 

I felt like a furnace, a blacksmith’s forge, hot as a sun, but contained.  I was charged with a nuclear reaction that served to strengthen not only the resolve to right my wrong, but also the walls of my bodily container.  I sensed that the ability to hold this fire within me would build my ability to hold yet more heat and power, as if the furnace was melting down the slag and impurities to build the internal walls thicker and more impregnable. 

I watched this feeling as I listened to the last of my wife’s words.

I fixed her with my burning eyes.  I calmly spoke to her, the heat of fire creeping ever so slightly into my voice.  Incredible rage cauterised every insufficient and redundant word out of me.  What was left was a communication of such pure and white-hot efficiency that it could not be argued.  The level of self-control I felt was unending, like a thousand year old stone fortress hulked upon an age-old hill, absorbing the elements and standing strong.  Nothing could break my will both to serenity and to observing the rage within it, like a hurricane behind a wall of glass.  

Her eyes blinked with acknowledgement as I ended my piece.

My body raging with heat, trembling with power and incredible energy, I stood and walked calmly out of the room.  Once out, I leaned on the wall, exhilarated, surprised and astonished at the power I was feeling.  I was not adrenalised in the least.  Instead, I was calm, but radiating an intensity I had never experienced. 

It was rage.  I knew it beyond any doubt, but what surprised me was my level of control.  The emotion was mine to hold and direct, like a million-candlepower spotlight in my hands.  I hadn’t burnt my wife, nor scared, humiliated or intimidated her.  Instead I had stood my ground and spoken from a place of such emotional authenticity that it was beyond refutation.

I did not feel victorious.  I was not gloating over a won argument.  Instead I smiled to myself at the beautiful feeling of feeling.  Something very important had just occurred, a huge step of growth, a levelling-up, a peak experience.  

I felt stripped clean, as if every last dead branch and rotting leaf had been consumed by a raging bushfire.

And left behind was a landscape; pure, bright and seeded for growth.

bored man

Bored Men Make Me Puke In My Mouth

I was in the work truck today and my two companions were discussing how their wives/gfs were away at the time.

To my horror, they both said how bored they were.

WHAT IN THE FUCK.

 

bored man

 

As I quietly retched in my mouth, my internal doorway of friendship came crashing down, crushing several small cute and furry mammals in a mess of intestinal pulp.

I actually felt physically ill after their admissions. These men had degraded themselves to the point that they needed another human to make their lives worthwhile. I could barely be in the truck with them.

What happens to a boy to make him decide that his life is only interesting when his woman is around? Why have they no interests in their pitiful lives that they can enjoy without Les Woman?

I am so proud of my individuality (in the original sense of the term) and independence that to see another “man” (or more accurately “human with a penis” – they are men in only a purely technical sense) dismiss those things makes me weep flaming balls of pissed-off acid.

Yet again I had to reject humans whom I thought were reasonable beings worthy of my friendly company. It is not worth spending energy on friendships that will end with the realisation that they are merely shells of people.

 

Somewhere along the line these men had their development retarded, and decided to believe in the Almighty Lie: that there is a a soulmate out there, somewhere, floating in the mist.  Once found, these men would then be complete, whole, free to travel the world in a cornucopia of polka-dotted delight and companionship.  As a result they felt they could give away their insides, their desires, wants and ambitions, and trade them for company.

I, a man of substance and intelligence, am sick to loathing of these exoskeletons whose thoughts resemble inconsequential soap bubbles.

These men need to build The Rock.

Without a rock inside a man sinks into the quicksand of boredom and apathy. That rock is the sense of self that cannot be vilified by others. It cannot be destroyed until death. That rock is the monument to oneself. It keeps a man strong, chained to his principles and yet buoyed by them. It is like a man’s shadow in bright sun, sharply defined and following him everywhere, keeping him rooted to the ground instead of floating with every whim that captures his imagination.

This rock must be grown and constructed.  A man must spend his life building such a rock, carving his likeness into the granite of his genetic inheritance.  His rock reflect his desire to become what hewants.  His tools are persistence and imagination.

It is an ongoing task.  But it doesn’t take long for the stone to grow from a pebble to a boulder, where it can anchor a man, strong in the knowledge that he needs no other man or woman.

And this is where boredom becomes nullified.

Build your rock.

I love you man picture of husband and wife

Your Best Friend – Why Your GF / Wife Is Not It

I love you man best friends husband and wife

We’re Besties, aren’t we… Aren’t we?

 

Don’t fall for that bullshit.  That language merely makes her feel better, and pops you in a ribbon-wrapped box of friendship that’s easy for her to open and occasionally poop in.  It gives her the superficial security that friends give each other: no-pressure, like-each-other, be-there-for-you bollocks.

You are friends, sure.

But first you are business partners and lovers.

Hollywood has again fucked with your head.  A thousand rom-coms have salted your brain in a preserving barrel of feminine brine.  You believe that the perfect woman is out there.  Your Soulmate, decked out in a sultry little black dress, ready with witty one-liners and enough charm to bring a dead orca back to life.  She knows you.  Everything about you. Your fondest memories, your ticklish spot.  She knows how to surprise you, gets the present you wanted without you even telling her.  

Movies have told you this woman is your Best Friend.  And, unbelievably, it’s always the male character who says it, at the altar. Or to one of his mates.  Or to her on the couch. It’s always the same.  And it stinks like a tartan pile of dirty flannies.

So you meet said perfect girl.  There is only one question that needs asking:  Can you be completely, 100%, hand-on-heart, sauté-a-baby-in-onions-if-I-mitigate-at-all honest with the girl?

If you can, congratulations. You have won the feminine lottery of the millennia and deserve a place in history alongside Attila and the guy who invented the penny-farthing.  Which is a pretty good thing.

For the rest of us, Men are the best friends required.

Blokes.  Best mates ever.

One of the greatest things about being a man is the potential quality of a man’s friendships.  Once a certain point of confidence is reached, a man chooses his closest friends with great care based on their honesty, their attitudes, and their accomplishments.  These friendships are pure diamond.  Brutally hard, vibrant, cutting and beautiful.  A good friend pushes you. He is incredibly honest. He makes you laugh.

He holds a view of the world distinctly different from your own while still accepting and even encouraging that difference.

Sit down with your mates and discuss cooking children, ironing porn and off-colour jokes and no one will bat an eyelid.  Does your wife know about that?

You may read this and think I am a misogynist.  I am not. I love my wife heartily.  She is an incredible woman.  But though we share a house and children and a bed, she is not and cannot be my best friend.  She simply cannot, through basic biology, understand my most basic function: that of being a man.

My Best Friends MUST be men.  The women in my life cannot understand what it is like to have a hard cock, or to feel the fire of Jupiter running in my veins. They cannot know about the passion to strive, to fight, to want to endure pain hardship and incredible anxiety for only a possibility of success.

In my life, only another man can understand.

A stranger stabs you in the front

I call bullshit.

 

This poster illustrates the difference between men and women.  To a woman only a stranger would dare be truly honest to her face.  Meanwhile, her friend is only truly honest about her to other people behind her back.  Only then, when all honesty has been used up, do her best friends ensure that nothing real ever gets shown.  They can share only those air-filled platitudes which collapse upon transmission like a shiny, useless soap bubble.

There is a profound saying that sums up a man’s Best Friend:

Best friends stab each other in the front.

Brutal honesty is only possible with a friend who is a man.  And if something bothers you about your friend, you better make damn sure he knows about it from you.

 

 

Who's the boss stars wearing tshirts saying "I'm the Boss"

Who’s the Boss? A Marital Questionnaire

Who's the boss stars wearing tshirts saying "I'm the Boss"

Exactly.

Who’s the boss?

Maybe your kid asks it.  Maybe some friends bring it up in a drunken conversation.  Maybe your father-in-law teases you about it.

Who’s the boss?

Is it you?  Or is it her?   Who do you want it to be?

If you even need to ask this, she’s the boss.

You’re both the boss… right?  So in other words, she’s the boss.

She laughs under her breath… you got it, she’s the boss.

Ask yourself these questions. Then ask why you are not the boss.

Who is the strongest?

Who is the smartest?

Who earns the most?

Who would defend the family?

Who would protect the house from attack?

If you answered yes to all these, and you still feel like the bitch, you have some work to do.  Of course, if you’re ok being a fucking pussy to your wife, then cool.  You’re probably not getting laid though, and your missus is nagging you to death.  This is all a function of you not taking your proper role.

Protection is the common theme here.  Physical protection, intellectual protection, financial protection.  Can you protect your family and property from predators?  Can you protect your family from stupid ideas?  Can you protect your family from financial ruin?  A man’s role is protection, and if you are competent at it, you are the boss. No man who can adequately protect his family and provide for them should play second fiddle.  The strongest person in the household should be the boss.

But this isn’t how it works, is it? Decision making is where boss-dom is won or lost.  Solid, non-mitigated decision-making earns maximum respect points from women.  Unfortunately this is where most guys give it away, including myself.

For years I answered “whatever YOU want to do” to questions from my wife.  We were still happy. But I certainly didn’t feel like the boss.

It took me a while to realise that I needed to make decisions.  Strong, fast decisions.  My marital happiness depended the solidity of that decision making process.  My wife wanted someone who could decide what to have for dinner, where to go tomorrow, when to buy a new car, where to go on holiday.

Put your hand up if your dad ran the house when you were a child.  I thought so.  Dad owned the house, he ran the house, you lived there UNDER HIS RULES YOU FUCKING DONKEY.  There was no doubt in his mind or anyone else’s about whose place you were in and who you had to listen to.  I went to my old man’s house recently, ate some ham off a plate with my fingers, and got my ass chewed out for ten minutes.   I’m four inches and ten kilos bigger than him, but it didn’t fucking matter cos it’s his house, his rules.

Men, this is where we need to be.  If you’re having problems in this area, you need to read the Married Man Sex Life Primer immediately and man the fuck up.  It’s not about ruling the roost with an iron fist, kicking ass for minor infractions.  It’s about knowing your place as ruler of your kingdom and protector thereof, and living that life.   It’s not about natural law, it’s about who is more qualified to be the last stand of responsibility in your house.

Who is willing and able to be accountable for any fuckups that occur?

Who is able to sacrifice themselves for their family at last resort?

And if such a sacrifice is necessary, who is to shoulder the responsibility for all the decisions to come before?

I sure as hell will be making the decisions if it is to be my life on the line in the final instance.

 

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