Skip

Targets Wanted (or "I'm a dick")
January 27, 2010 5:54 PM   Subscribe

I grew up with a pretty mean guy for a father. Thanks to my therapist, I have come to realize that "abusive" does not necessarily mean "illegal," and while his conduct was never the second, it was definitely the first. I'm certain many people grew up in far worse situations, but he still screwed me up, and I still get the bill. The bill comes in many forms, but one is that I'm very prone to anger, and really nasty anger at that. I'm wondering how I can either express or repress this.

I am a very, very angry man. Through effort (and therapy), I have become the sort of person who can keep his cool in most situations, but sometimes, things just get to me. This happens most often in situations when people don't hear or respect me. When this happens, I can get livid, although when there will be even mild consequences, I can hide or defer it until nobody else is around.

I live alone, and in the past, I took advantage of this to go off on loud rants at my father, or whoever I'm angry with about past wrongs, to nobody in my apartment. Unfortunately, the walls here can't be that thick, because once my neighbor heard me and called the police. Have you ever done a little impromptu therapy session at home and had a dozen police officers show up afterwards? I have! And I don't live in the greatest neighborhood; I can't imagine what the guy must have told them.

Anyway, the imaginary ranting helped a bit, but what I really want is a place where I am THE MAN IN CHARGE, with no exceptions. I want to force people to obey me or to go along with me, whether by will, prestige and position, or simple physical violence. I want to be the decisively dominant person in the situation, who can remove all choice from people except to do what he says. Also, I want to administer severe consequences to those who do not--I want to be the guy who beats the shit out of someone for getting out of line, and the guy everyone pays attention to after that.

This isn't a sex thing at all--in retrospect, that reads remarkably like some post from a really pathetic Gorean personal ad on a BDSM site, but I'm not even on that level. It's more that I got pushed around by bullies a lot as a kid, and now it's my fucking turn to run the show and say "to hell with everyone else."

Therefore: Is there anywhere in or near San Francisco I could go to get this kind of experience with as little pretending as possible? (This last proviso is why punching a pillow, counting to ten, praying, or that sort of thing won't work--I feel ridiculous enough afterwards as it is.) Alternatively, is there a reasonable way for me to stop wanting this?

Also: Recommending meditation seemed to be a standard answer as I was reading past AskMes about anger, but I have to ask: how does this work, and why? I've tried meditation before, albeit not on a devoted basis. While I did feel a little calmer immediately after, it wasn't any calmer than I would have felt had I sat in a quiet room and read something pleasant for a while or the like. To be frank, I felt like the guy in the joke who said "I went on a 30-day diet . . . and lost 30 days." I'm pretty stupid, obviously, but I'm not so stupid that I'll schedule time to sit in a darkened room without a very good idea that it's going to help me and why it will do so. And I'm not nearly stupid enough that I'd believe nobody could provide such an idea.

Throwaway gmail: yeahimadick.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (45 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
but what I really want is a place where I am THE MAN IN CHARGE, with no exceptions. I want to force people to obey me or to go along with me, whether by will, prestige and position, or simple physical violence. I want to be the decisively dominant person in the situation, who can remove all choice from people except to do what he says. Also, I want to administer severe consequences to those who do not--I want to be the guy who beats the shit out of someone for getting out of line, and the guy everyone pays attention to after that

In other words, you want to be your father.

I'm going to suggest that every time you get angry, you sit with it, neither expressing nor supressing. Acknowledge that you are angry. Find out where in your body the anger is and just sit with it. No revenge fantasies, nothing--just train yourself to be really aware of it.

And get therapy. I know where you come from. Far too well.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:07 PM on January 27, 2010 [19 favorites]


I don't know if this will help, because it doesn't typically involve another person, but how about something else physical? The batting cages are always good for me, and I've also heard of people buying cheap dishes at Goodwill and throwing them against a wall or breaking them with a hammer.

Thank you for taking steps to deal with this. Far too few men do.
posted by Madamina at 6:12 PM on January 27, 2010


Maybe you need to see your anger as a bad habit. The more you indulge it the worse it's going to get.

If your anger is a cigarette, then meditation would be the gum you chew to try to quit. It isn't going to feel as good, but it's a whole lot better for you and the people around you.

Instead of meditation (which you obviously dislike) you can try something constructive. Have you tried Art Therapy? I don't have any experience with it, but having a creative outlet could help.

Exercise might be something else you can look into. I've had a lot of fun taking out aggression at a batting cage. Raquetball or Tennis might be good too, something where you get to hit the stuffing out of something. The release of 'feel good' endorphins you get after a work out are bound to help your mood.

As for being the All Powerful Dictator, I really don't think that can be good for you. I'm afraid it would just lead you to being 'That Guy' and hating yourself. Do you really want to turn into someone else's tormentor? Have you lost all compassion? If you haven't, then won't being a total douche be tough on your self worth? If you have lost all compassion, then I think you have really, really serious problems and need to keep going to that therapist.

(I am not any kind of mental health professional, this is all just my opinion.)
posted by TooFewShoes at 6:19 PM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have no idea about role-playing, but it seems like something a BDSM professional escort - male or female - would be able to do for you.

Like anything else, you have to determine whether or not this interest is truly healthy for you, and whether or not pursuing this fantasy will help you move on and grow.

I would argue that this interest of yours is unhealthy (while acknowledging many people find a useful, positive outlet in typical BDSM power-play dynamics), and that you should probably continue to seek professional health.

You may also be living with depression, which can manifest itself has anger and emotional volatility. Depression can be treated, so there is no reason (other than financial) to prevent you from seeking help.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:24 PM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


My husband had a father from hell. Which had a lot of ramifications for him, including having to deal with the kind of emotions you are dealing with.

I don't know if your father is still alive, but my husband's father died a few years ago. And old, sick man. When my hubby buried his dad a lot of stuff was buried with him.

What I am about to say will probably piss you off, but I saw my own husband do it, and was amazed he was able to do it...my husband forgave his dad. Mind you, it did not make any of the bad behavior less bad, it didn't mean that any of it was in the least bit okay...but my husband chose to forgive him. Even tho he really didn't deserve it.

Of course, my husband is a Christian and was able to release it to God, but I think one thing that made it easier for him is he knew a bit of his dad's background. This man was one of eight brothers raised by a man who was pretty cruel and disconnected to his family. It did not excuse my F-i-l's behavior but it made it, for lack of a better term, understandable. That, plus we figure he had a bit of a problem with mental illness.

While it is certainly understandable you want to roleplay your way thru your anger in the way you describe, I don't think that will heal the very real wounds in your heart-the wounds that are generating the anger. What you would need to do is to get to the root of your anger, and deal with that. In a secular setting, that would mean counselling. In my world, it would probably mean prayer counseling...

At any rate, I wish you peace. Our family knows all too well what kind of damage an abusive father can do to a person's spirit. But the good news is it's not unrepairable.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:58 PM on January 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


I totally understand your anger. And, apparently, you totally understand your anger, too. You need a healthier way to deal with your anger (fear, frustration) because, beyond what it does to others, it's no good for you. The point of life isn't to alienate others, nor "plow through people"- it is to learn from and attempt to understand other people with respect for them and for YOURSELF. The reason is that you will get a lot more from experiences if you are open to understanding those around you ESPECIALLY when they differ from what is comfortable for you to see, think, believe or assume about life. Your dad was not open to understanding. He closed it down. To his own detriment (not to mention yours). Treating others the way you describe you wish to treat them is lacking in self respect, just as much as it is lacking in respect for those you may mistreat. Your dad completely failed at learning form people. From getting to the point where he had any tolerance for people = abuse. Per the fact you are posting this question, it's obvious, no matter how angry you are (and rightfully so), that you don't want to live that way. So, first of all, stay in therapy. And, more immediately, realize you don't have to default to whatever you witnessed when you grew up. For that matter, realize that you don't have to remain in any mode you've already established for yourself. Whatever precedent you've set, it can be dropped. Just like that. Without explanation. Most simply, by realizing that you need not bother remain loyal to anything unhealthy. By understanding that - and putting that in practice, you will have already changed something significant. Just pay attention to that way situations make you feel, THEN consider all the feelings of all the other people involved. Deliberately humanize the people around. After a while, it will come naturally.
posted by marimeko at 7:13 PM on January 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


A friend of mine once told me her therapist told her that anger is a secondary emotion. You feel the primary emotion, and then it devolves into anger. The best way to deal with anger, therefore, is to learn to recognize and deal effectively with the primary emotion, whatever that may be. For instance, when I get angry it's usually because I'm frustrated or hurt. And when I address those feelings, the anger evaporates on its own. You might want to try that approach.

Another point I would like to make is that I've noticed disproportionately angry reactions in people who grew up in dysfunctional homes with a domineering, unfair parent. For instance, if they received an invitation to do something they don't want to do, they would get angry and rant that the person who invited them was inconsiderate and selfish for even asking. And they weren't good at addressing problems period, and tended to let things build up and to nurse grudges and rant to other, third party people instead of taking up the matter with the person they had the problem with. They didn't seem to realize they were no longer that put-upon, helpless child they once were, that they now had the power to say no, to negotiate, to ask for things, to be heard. And then too, they needed to realize that the person they were angry with probably had a whole other perspective on the matter that they needed to listen to, that they themselves were not some innocent victim.

If this sounds like you, I recommend you work on improving your interpersonal skills so that you can resolve matters with other people rather than getting to the point at which your rage becomes a problem in itself.
posted by orange swan at 7:15 PM on January 27, 2010 [12 favorites]


I have a hard time imagining anyone willingly participating in an exercise where you treat them like crap unless it's some kind of fetish for them - and in your case it's unlikely you'll get any satisfaction if they're enjoying it. This thing you want is not going to happen without you causing real harm to someone.
posted by mattholomew at 7:29 PM on January 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Keeping your cool sounds like you're clamping a lid on the anger, and I understand why you would want to do that, but eventually the lid always blows off.

Keep on working on it in therapy, talk about it with friends. if you can't find friends you can talk to about it, find a support group where you can talk about your anger and not have to worry about offending anyone or being judged.

Over time, you may find that you no longer have to keep your cool, you just become more cool. In other words, the willful effort is in therapy, so that in immediate situations it's not a question of will, you already have a good base to operate from, so things roll off you.
posted by zippy at 7:44 PM on January 27, 2010


I'm not so stupid that I'll schedule time to sit in a darkened room without a very good idea that it's going to help me and why it will do so.

How about scheduling something else? A relative of mine who has some serious issues with anger didn't like aggressive outlets (boxing, etc. just made him angrier), but found great success with a men's support group focused on anger. Have you tried anything like that?

You grew up with a mean guy for a father and are now seeking outlets for being mean yourself--as if you want permission to act like your dad in certain contexts. I think that before you let even that limited amount of your father's meanness into your life, you should exhaust other options. In my relative's experience, a support group--as not-tough as that might sound--allowed him to find ways to deal with his anger that didn't cede any power to the bullies in his life: it wasn't "They did X, Y, and Z to me, and now I'm going to show them..." but instead "I had X, Y, and Z terrible, traumatic experiences, and now I'm going to do A and B to move forward."

I don't want to diminish your experience growing up with your father, and I'm not saying you need to just "get over it." I just know that, in my family's experience, finding an outlet to express the extreme anger has not been as gratifying as finding a therapeutic outlet to process and control the extreme anger.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:59 PM on January 27, 2010


I would suggest that you not pursue this in any type of roleplay, sexual or otherwise. I don't think that can lead to anything good. Expressing anger does not need to equal being an abusive prick. And being a dominant in roleplay (sexual or other) is not a good avenue for expressing anger. A dominant in any roleplay type of situation has to, first and foremost, be in control of themselves. I don't think you're there.

I think you already know this: Anger management and continued therapy are your answers. I would suggest studying mindfulness instead of meditation. Learn to sit with your feelings a little more comfortably.

In addition, it might be a good idea to find expressive outlets for your anger. Paintball? Martial Arts?
posted by dchrssyr at 8:03 PM on January 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Why don't you buy a speedbag and pay someone to have a rough likeness of your father's face painted on it?
posted by felix betachat at 8:07 PM on January 27, 2010


I'm very prone to anger, and really nasty anger at that. I'm wondering how I can either express or repress this.

Have you considered working toward not needing to do either?

I am a very, very angry man.

Every time this particular self-description occurs to you, reframe it to improve its precision: I am a man who (a) is easily angered (b) is frequently angry (c) has difficulty maintaining self-control when angry (d) has difficulty using anger positively (e) takes a long time to get calm again after being angered (f) and so forth.

That way, instead of being stuck in a state where you experience your anger as a monolithic and inevitable part of an irreparably broken life that causes you endless misery, you can prioritise acquiring the skills you'll need to deal with its various aspects.

Through effort (and therapy), I have become the sort of person who can keep his cool in most situations, but sometimes, things just get to me.

Sounds like you've done some good work dealing with (a), which leads me to respect you rather more than I can imagine respecting your father.

This happens most often in situations when people don't hear or respect me. When this happens, I can get livid, although when there will be even mild consequences, I can hide or defer it until nobody else is around.

Cool, so you've got a lock on (c) as well. This is getting easier all the time!

I live alone, and in the past, I took advantage of this to go off on loud rants at my father, or whoever I'm angry with about past wrongs, to nobody in my apartment. Unfortunately, the walls here can't be that thick, because once my neighbor heard me and called the police.

Right: this is straight-up (e). You could use some better strategies for getting rid of anger when you have no use for it, because shouting at Dad has inconvenient side effects.

Key thing here is that anger, like any emotion, is not just a mind thing, it's a mind and body thing; a weird and complicated set of feedback loops involving neurotransmitters and nerves and muscles and your guts and glands.

I expect you've found that ranting and screaming at Dad is somewhat effective, and you've probably drawn the conclusion that this is because you're addressing the cause of your anger. I'd like to suggest to you that perhaps the bellowing and howling is effective mainly because it's a fairly intense physical activity that acts to shift all those feedback loops around to a different stable point.

Personally, I have found that the single most effective thing I can do to calm down when angry is go for a hard fast walk up a good steep hill. It doesn't seem to matter much what I'm thinking about as I do this. I can be telling myself to calm down, or letting whatever made me angry go round and round in my head - doesn't make a lick of difference. What works is the physical effort.

If I'm totally enraged and I just sit down and wait for it to go away, I'll generally have calmed down in two to three hours. A hard fast walk will do the same job in about twenty minutes. Do your own comparison and see if you find the same thing.

Anyway, the imaginary ranting helped a bit, but what I really want is a place where I am THE MAN IN CHARGE, with no exceptions. I want to force people to obey me or to go along with me, whether by will, prestige and position, or simple physical violence. I want to be the decisively dominant person in the situation, who can remove all choice from people except to do what he says. Also, I want to administer severe consequences to those who do not--I want to be the guy who beats the shit out of someone for getting out of line, and the guy everyone pays attention to after that.

This sounds more like a retribution fantasy than effective anger management, to me, and I'm not at all surprised to find that you want this. I'd like to suggest to you, though, that if you do manage to engineer such a circumstance, and do in fact find that it alleviates your anger, you may come to believe that exerting this kind of force is necessary for you; that, I think, would be unhelpful. Setting yourself up to be defied, then reacting to defiance with berserker rage and beating the shit out of somebody else, is a needlessly complicated and error-prone dance. I expect you'd get comparable results from any comparably intense physical activity.

This isn't a sex thing at all--in retrospect, that reads remarkably like some post from a really pathetic Gorean personal ad on a BDSM site, but I'm not even on that level. It's more that I got pushed around by bullies a lot as a kid, and now it's my fucking turn to run the show and say "to hell with everyone else." that experience totally sucked, and left me with this time-consuming anger management problem, and the worst of it is that nothing I can do now will ever change or fix what happened then or make it in any way OK that it did happen. Best I can do now is clean up all the leftover shit. FTFY.

Therefore: Is there anywhere in or near San Francisco I could go to get this kind of experience with as little pretending as possible? (This last proviso is why punching a pillow, counting to ten, praying, or that sort of thing won't work--I feel ridiculous enough afterwards as it is.)

Feeling ridiculous can work. I do it frequently. Cheers me up no end :-)

Alternatively, is there a reasonable way for me to stop wanting this?

Glad you asked. Hope this helps.

Also: Recommending meditation seemed to be a standard answer as I was reading past AskMes about anger, but I have to ask: how does this work, and why?

Meditation is about improving self-awareness. It's about learning to pay attention to how you actually function, as opposed to the half-arsed collection of inaccurate suppositions that most of us carry around and call a self-image.

I've tried meditation before, albeit not on a devoted basis. While I did feel a little calmer immediately after, it wasn't any calmer than I would have felt had I sat in a quiet room and read something pleasant for a while or the like.

Meditation is a lot like learning to play a musical instrument or learning a martial art. The skills required and developed by all of these processes are in many ways similar, and they take time and persistence to build. You can get some benefit from learning three chords and the truth, but getting a lot of benefit requires regular and diligent practice.

To be frank, I felt like the guy in the joke who said "I went on a 30-day diet . . . and lost 30 days."

The parallel is actually pretty good. As a man prone to run to fat, I can assure you that a 30 day diet is indeed a waste of time, and not in any way a workable substitute for a lifetime of practised attention :-)

I'm pretty stupid, obviously,

Not even slightly obvious to me. You come across as very articulate.

but I'm not so stupid that I'll schedule time to sit in a darkened room without a very good idea that it's going to help me and why it will do so. And I'm not nearly stupid enough that I'd believe nobody could provide such an idea.

If sitting in a darkened room turns out not to be your cup of meditative tea, try a martial art. You'll learn some very intense zero-equipment physical workout routines, which will help with anger dissipation when you need it, and you will fairly rapidly reach a point where anger will become a distraction from your main game rather than the defining experience of your existence.

If you take any martial art sufficiently seriously, you'll also find that your focus will shift away from learning to LAY THE SMACKDOWN ON SOME UPPITY LITTLE PRICK WHO DESPERATELY DESERVES IT toward simply getting better at what you do for its own sake and for yours.

All the best.
posted by flabdablet at 8:10 PM on January 27, 2010 [16 favorites]


Have you considered a career as a prison guard? IMO, maximum security prisons need more people like you, as long as you don't get too carried away.

Yikes, I'm sorry, but I cannot disagree more with this comment. Prisons need people who can be physically and mentally tough without emotional strings attached. A tendency to powertrip does not a good prison guard make.

I'm currently the female version of you, but what my father did was illegal and no one stood up to him. Before raging on anyone else, I have a tendency to beat myself up first instead, so I can empathize with you to a certain degree, especially about the not wanting to feel ridiculous thing. I'm also very skeptical about pharmaceuticals and self-help books/practices/etc. I just don't have the motivation to keep doing them. They're cute every once and awhile when you're feeling up enough to even do them, but not consistently enough when you're already feeling miserable.

The batting cages idea is a good one, but I particularly like them because I used to play quite a bit when I was younger, so it feels good to associate it with being a kid and also being able to use it as a frustration killer. I know there are places that exist where you pay them and they will put you in a room full of glass china and you can throw it at the walls, floors, etc. That's not my cup of tea but if that's more your thing, they might have something like it near you.

I just can't imagine wanting to be anything like your father after he's made you feel this way. It's hard, but if there's anything I keep telling myself, it's that if I notice I'm doing something either of my parents would do in their moments of weakness to victimize me, I just stop and break down and realize I am not that person. I do not want to be that person, and the breaking down, no matter how often it is, always helps. Perhaps because you are a man you aren't as emotionally connected to your childhood as you are physically, but please don't think that you ever need to be the person he was in order to overcome and be the person you really want to be.. because I know that is not it.
posted by june made him a gemini at 8:31 PM on January 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


I like what Ironmouth says and I'll just add this, based on a very long friendship, with a very, very angry man, who I still care for deeply.

You might find that place, in our fair city of San Francisco, where so many things can be found, where you will find your experience yelling, dominating - actually, worse that dominating, which could have some positive side in role play - but really *terrorizing* others until you exhaust yourself, and you're just spent. But have you thought about what comes after? It's often such a let down afterwards. Not always. There may be some people who are just fine afterwards. After all the self righteous, feel good feeling of yelling every FUCKING word of you being right - or wrong, who cares since what's most important is you dominating others and them realizing it. But after that, for some people, what happens is less sweet bliss and more a feeling of bewildered emptiness, or just awful kind of darkness. And you might end up feeling either contempt, or disgust, or guilt towards the people who you directed this vitriol at, even if they did say it was just fine for you to do so.

And perhaps you might realize the only way you can do this, act this way, be this way, is if you consistently and willfully disconnect from other people. You have to not notice them, as anything more that props. Because you have to turn that on and shut that off at will. It's hard to control your feelings like that. And the whole thing about rage, which I think at it's worst is a response to a desperate desire to feel anything other than the nausea and pain of helplessness and injustice (triggered by something that came the moment or years before), is that it is an relentlessly oppressive feeling. One that one specifically cannot turn on and off.

SO I like what what Ironmouth says. The sitting with it. The meditating. I know everyone has their own path, and this finding a place to dominate others might be yours. But maybe this is like shutes and ladders, and you can just skip the 'feeling of being the tyrant' experience, and go straight to the quiet moments that come after that. The one where you keep doing something even though you know it makes you sick, and you're sort of at the tipping of point of wondering what you would be doing if you weren't doing this, because oddly enough this being a tyrant thing isn't really scratching that god-awful, unbearably drilling into your brain itch you have to just crush something. That moment right there; the stillness and the overwhelming feeling that you would feel something, anything else, but you're not - I think that's what meditation is.

Perhaps if you wish to dominate something, you can meditate and imagine yourself a mountain, and the desires to destroy everything as an incredible storm. The storm is fierce. Relentless. But the mountain is strong, and it doesn't hide, and it doesn't move. It doesn't have to, because is stronger than the storm, even though it never directly fights it. It just notices it. The storm passes, because eventually, that's what all storms do. The mountain wins.
posted by anitanita at 8:49 PM on January 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Please avoid dating, women in general, and children in general as long as you feel like this. They're usually first in line to be targets for a fist in the face from guys just like you, especially given the size difference.

Also, for the love of god, do more therapy. Tell your shrink this. Don't try to act it out. Even besides the part where you (or your girlfriend, or nieces/nephews, or anyone remotely in your vicinity in a bar) might just get lucky and get arrested and/or go to jail for whaling on people so you can feel superior and "in control" and "the MAN," why the hell do you want to do to someone else what was done to you? Would you want to raise a son that you beat up every day with a song in your heart, who in turn grows up to beat the shit out of his wife and children, and everyone below them learns to find an abuser or abuse everyone not as strong as them? Do you think your dad felt warm and fuzzy inside every time he abused you? You KNOW why he felt that way, do you really want to spread it on to the rest of the world?

You frighten me, and honestly, I hope I never meet a guy like you in real life. Right now you've got an inkling in your head that this might not be the best thing for you to do, please act on that inkling rather than the desire to beat the shit out of everyone smaller than you so you can be the bully.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:37 PM on January 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


I've been bullied, and I've been the bully. Every once in a while I still feel the Rage. But being the bully was no medicine for me. I like what Ironmouth and anitanita say. I think it's a good sign that you feel ridiculous punching a pillow. Punch more pillows. Punch them until you start crying. Watch that star wars kid video over and over again. Imagine that's your father there, swinging and tripping over himself. Imagine that's you there. That's what it looks like without the fear. That's what it feels like when you know.
posted by wobh at 10:01 PM on January 27, 2010


As it happens, childhood abuse (physical, sexual, psychological) creates enduring, measurable hypertrophies of limbic areas of the brain along with a decreased sensitivity in those areas to the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. The limbic system isn't exactly the entire seat of emotional response but carries a big part of that load. There was a layman's account of this effect in perhaps Scientific American which I cannot find readily. If you want authority, Martin Teicher of McLean Hospital has written a pile of articles on the subject.

That there is a hypertrophy almost demands explanation - hypotrophies or malformations resulting from abuse seem reasonable, but an overgrowth and over-excitability of these subsystems seems adaptive (or "intentional" if you will). As Teicher once put it, "if my developmental environment was hostile, my brain can fairly expect that the future will be too and gear up for it". There's even some very recent evidence that may point to a gene expression responsible for such results of abuse.

Okay, that's pretty sciencey, but what does it mean? You may well have an organic brain dysfunction which will never leave you and cognitive or behavioral approaches really can't touch it. Fortunately, some of an old and very well known class of drugs - the benzodiazepines - do, among other things, target the limbic system and increase sensitivity to GABA. This is probably why they are among the most prescribed psychiatric drugs.

IANAD but I Nth all those above who say acting out your rage isn't the right path. I'd see a psychiatrist if I was living with your limbic system.
posted by fydfyd at 11:01 PM on January 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


From personal experience, I can tell you that until you learn to express your anger in a healthy way, you'll never be able to feel in control of yourself, and that's the first step towards feeling in control of your life. Even if you manage to reduce your anger down to a reasonable level, you still have to express it appropriately and often, rather than letting it build up.

So, allow me to recommend the following:

1. Therapy. You really can make progress on this, even though it may take a while.
2. Honesty. Be honest about your anger management problems with people you trust (friends and family, not work) and enlist them in helping you recognize when it's building up so you can let it out before it explodes. Hiding it from them or trying to manage it without their knowledge/assistance is going to potentially drive them away when you need them most, and being able to talk casually about it with friends and family will help lower the stakes of your emotional state.
3. Boxing. Really, at the end of the day, getting in a ring with someone and trying to beat the crap out of them while they try to beat the crap out of you is a great way to express your anger physically while also learning a bit of healthy humility. If you can't follow the rules, though (ie you keep punching when you shouldn't, or you otherwise lose control) then don't take this step until you're making progress in therapy.

I know for me personally, my first "breakthrough" about my anger didn't come from therapy -- it came from an unfortunate incident in which I could have seriously hurt myself and someone I love -- but therapy has allowed me to take what I learned in that moment and use it to explore the source of my anger and help me understand how to deal with it better. I can't say I always enjoyed the process, but it's definitely helped a lot.

Good luck.
posted by davejay at 11:47 PM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have no idea about role-playing, but it seems like something a BDSM professional escort - male or female - would be able to do for you.

No. This is not what professional submissives do. They take part in very defined scenarios where the limits of control and any injury are explicitly negotiated beforehand, and they work with a "safe word" that means you must stop instantly if things go beyond their limits.

They are not people you can hire to dominate absolutely or in a way that goes beyond what is basically adult play-acting. They are definitely not people you can hire when you don't know what you might do to them - their job isn't to risk death at the hands of someone angry and out of control. Any pro-sub or SM establishment that is even basically established or reputable is going to interview and supervise potential clients to make sure they aren't looking to act the way the OP is.

Aside from that (which is directed more to Kokuryu than the OP), I'm 100% with jenfullmoon, and I think many other people have given great answers from a base of much more personal experience with these feelings than I have.
posted by crabintheocean at 12:34 AM on January 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


...now it's my fucking turn to run the show and say "to hell with everyone else."

I don't think that this is going to make you any less angry. I think it would very likely cause a bit of self-loathing that isn't going to help matters at all. Anger isn't necessarily a bad emotion, but it rarely is a primary emotion. I've read somewhere that all anger springs from fear. I think that you would be better served finding out what you are afraid of before becoming it yourself.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:35 AM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wish we could edit posts. I'd just like to add that it annoys the hell out of me when people make suggestions like Kokuryu's. If you were responding to a poster dealing with hard-to-control violent rape fantasies would you suggest he go find a prostitute to take it out on? I sure hope not.
posted by crabintheocean at 12:40 AM on January 28, 2010


Delurking because your post resonated with me. I hope you find an answer for your questions that helps.

what I really want is a place where I am THE MAN IN CHARGE, with no exceptions. I want to force people to obey me or to go along with me, whether by will, prestige and position, or simple physical violence. I want to be the decisively dominant person in the situation, who can remove all choice from people except to do what he says. Also, I want to administer severe consequences to those who do not--I want to be the guy who beats the shit out of someone for getting out of line, and the guy everyone pays attention to after that.

That sounds like the fantasies I used to have when I was an angry child, at the mercy of scornful and hateful giants. I couldn't do anything about it then, so my fantasies grew bigger and more brutal until that hyperbole managed to excise some of my anger.
I think that whenever I return to this method of dealing, it is because I once again feel powerless and frustrated. That I am in a situation where other people have the power over me and I can't do anything against it and I feel all that hatred gush up.

Is this kind of how you feel underneath the anger? If so, maybe it's a question of still having to discover that you now, as an adult, have power to stop people from crossing your boundaries. And that power comes in different forms and means wielding different kinds of skills. But it has nothing at all to do with making people quail before you and obliterating their will because you are a violent giant. That is a child's notion of victory, based on a child's view of the world. Maybe you are still driving by a child's road map that doesn't work anymore and that is getting in the way of where you want to be.

Things I would recommend (though I am not a counsellor):

1) An anger journal. Take detailed notes of what makes you angry and why you think it made you angry. Try to discover the primary emotion that orange swan mentioned. What is the power the other person wields over you? What did the situation remind you of?
2) Therapy. Is it helping you, still? Maybe you need some other form of therapy than you currently get?
3) Do something physically exhausting. Woodcutting or something.
4) Do something combative, I like the martial arts idea. It's a good way of excercising the power you have and learning to handle it.
5) Meditation isn't for everyone. If it's something you don't see the point of, don't do it. As long as you find other ways to tackle your questions.
6) Insulate your room with egg boxes. :p I don't know if yelling helps you. It sounds like only a temporary reprieve that makes things worse and causes complications with your neighbours. But if yelling does help you blow off steam, find a way to do it. Find a way to ritualise it. Yell certain sounds and words, instead of wild expletives.
posted by Omnomnom at 4:34 AM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]



...now it's my fucking turn to run the show and say "to hell with everyone else."


No, it's not.

And until you can feel that you're not entitled to this, the faster you'll really know that your father wasn't entitled to it either, and then you might get some lasting relief, finally.

I picture what you're asking for and what you want and I see, first, a gigantic, towering 2 year old throwing a tantrum who makes me want to laugh spitefully; and then I see brutal, stupid-with-anger face of every mouth breather who's felt the right to terrorize and hurt someone smaller (women, children, "effeminate" men, etc.). That's not judgment-- that's mirroring, and you need to hear it. You need to know that these impulses are not healthy, not normal, not dignified, and are not to be indulged if you want to be a healthy, reasonably happy member of society. You deserve help and this isn't it.

Sound harsh? There are too many men (and women, for that matter) who have repeated the cycle of violence or sexual abuse they themselves were subjected to, to not raise the point that you don't want to be indulging this, line for line, at all, with other human beings. So much human misery has been created by little boys who turn the tables the minute they're old/big enough to be the angry dad or the molesting babysitter because it feels good to think it's finally their turn.
posted by availablelight at 5:12 AM on January 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


PS If you really want to act this out in a productive healing way? I'd try finding a counselor who offers drama therapy...where you can write a different emotional ending to the outbursts that feel so "good" right now.
posted by availablelight at 5:14 AM on January 28, 2010


follow-up from the OP
Some people were asking why I'd want to engage in the behavior I found
so abhorrent. I thought about that, and I decided I want to prove to
myself that things can go a different way. When I was growing up, a
lot of interactions went like this, or something close to it:

* Someone wants something from me
* I refuse
* They use some kind of power (violence, threats, control of
resources, authority, whatever)
* I comply
* I feel defeated and resentful

Over time, I got an impression of me as the sort of person people
don't listen to--one with no power of any kind that matters. So I
really want to prove to myself that I *can* be the kind of person who
gets obeyed, and that I'm not missing whatever it is that makes people
listen to you. I've done all the things you're supposed to, like
offering carefully-reasoned thoughts and trying to be satisfied with
the moral victory of keeping cool, but none of it makes people listen
to me or face any consequences for disrespecting me, and none of it
helps me get any power in the world. Because I haven't been able to
grow a situation where I'm in charge, I'm considering engineering one.

Also, I've never hit a woman and never will. More generally, I'm not
*violent*, just *angry*. I've never been in a real physical fight, and
probably wouldn't do too well in one. (However, thinking about this
has made me wonder whether beating seven shades of shit out of my
father (probably impossible; he's much bigger than I am) before going
off to college would have helped me, it's too late for that. He's
still healthy, but I don't think confronting him about what he did
would help anything at this point, and it wouldn't do any good for my
family in general.)

Ironmouth: Your comment about me wanting to be my father was nearly
word-for-word what my therapist said. Excellent insight.

dchrssyr: Could you please clarify the difference between
"mindfulness" and "meditation"? I'm only familiar with mindfulness as
a type of meditation.

flabdablet: Excellent reply. Although for me, feeling ridiculous
doesn't cheer me up at all--I feel silly and stupid for even trying
whatever exercise it was, which makes me even angrier, which doesn't
exactly move the needle the right way.

anitanita: I appreciate the insights, but I can't understand anything
in your fourth paragraph between "The one where you keep . . ." and ".
. . what meditation is." Could you please state it another way?

Thanks again.

Also on the violence business, the part in my original question about
"beat[ing] the shit out of someone" isn't something that occurs to me
a lot--when I get out of hand, I just shout at people. That part was
inspired by an earlier draft of the question in which I said that when
I get on edge, I can become a bit of a Pesci.
Ironically, I realized that I'm more oriented towards yelling than
physical violence after watching the scene in question, but I guess
the fact that I took a lot of shit from people bigger, stronger, and
dumber than I was makes me want to beat the bullies on their home turf
and in their terms. Requests never got me anywhere and the relevant
authorities never cared, which left compliance and violence as the
only remaining options, and compliance as the only one that would work
(and the one I'd end up having to take anyway).
posted by jessamyn at 5:19 AM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


A few thoughts:

First of all, I strongly, strongly encourage you to work with your anger by yourself and with your therapist for a while longer. My personal opinion is that neither you nor the people you interact in some recreational setting with would benefit at this stage from being witness to your anger. You yourself know how damaging it can be to be on the receiving end.

I'm a meditator, and I'll try to explain how it has helped people I know who have dealt with a great deal of anger.

A common misconception is that the point of meditation is to calm yourself, flatten out your anger, delete your feelings, or otherwise obliterate your state of mind and replace it with a nice blue ocean. While calming techniques ARE helpful in the extreme short term (counting to 10 before responding, etc), that's an incredibly incomplete view of the point of meditation.

At least in the context that I am familiar with, the purpose of meditation is to learn to steady your attention such that you are able to stay with your inner experience when, say, anger arises. You steady your attention by learning to focus on breathing, or some other particular sensation, for an extended period of time. The practice of focusing can, itself, be calming, or helpful, or pleasant, but mostly, it's just a tool. Once you are able to keep your attention, you'll be able to watch your thoughts. If you try this, you will quickly find out (this is true for every single person, as far as I know) that there is a LOT more going on in your mind than you thought - the sheer amount of mental chatter, transient thoughts, feelings and beliefs is really astounding. You will realize (again, I think this is a fairly universal insight) that you did not personally decide, in any conscious way, to have ANY of those thoughts. They pop up totally on their own, and disappear on their own, too. You haven't really been the controlling director of the goings-on in there, but you've been acting as if all your thoughts and feelings were absolutely true reflections of WHO YOU ARE. Does that make sense? This is often misunderstood - I am NOT saying you'll find you have no personality, or that you're nobody, or that you don't have the tendencies you know you have - such investigation takes away absolutely nothing from the understanding you already have. It just adds the fact that you didn't exactly "do" anything that's going on in your mind. It's THERE.

And for you, anger is there, but I guarantee it's not alone. You already know this - you were abused, bullied, controlled as a child. Quite understandably, that child was scared, vulnerable, resentful, angry - many things. Your anger is not a defining hallmark of who you are, burned in to you by your father, stuck there forever, your identity - it's a feeling that happens for reasons. One of those reasons may be strongly identifying with the abused child you were. But are you still that child?

Neither is your anger somebody else's. This isn't to say your father didn't have something to do with your anger - he obviously had a LOT to do with it, and his behaviour is not in any way OK. But to say to yourself "I'm angry because my father was abusive" (while true, on one level) is different from saying "I'm antry because my father's actions caused me to feel scared, vulnerable, controlled, inhuman, etc, and now I feel the need to reclaim my agency in the world by using anger as strength to regain control." (That may not be quite true for you; I'm making a guess here."

So the point here is to deconstruct the feelings of anger. Does it define you? Is it who you are? are you an ANGRY PERSON? Are you the abused child you used to be? Is angry the way you want to be in the world? It's painful and harmful to others, so I'm guessing it's not ultimately how you want to be. Something you find in meditation is (again, I think this is universal) that when you face an emotion head-on, as simply an emotion that happened, not who you are, or not something that you SHOULD feel as a consequence of your past, but simply as a feeling - it really loses its power. You can see it, examine it, and choose not to act by it. This doesn't mean you'll never feel angry again - but with time, it will lose its power over you; it will lose its ability to make you feel compelled to act, to control people, to act it out. It will cease to be a defining characteristic of you, and will start to feel more like a bothersome neighbor who sometimes shows up and doesn't seem to take the hint and leave when you want, but isn't all THAT bad.

All of what I've said is a very condensed version of a difficult thing explained by a young person with markedly less experience than my teachers. I hope it is somehow helpful.

You are not your anger - you are not "an angry man". English compels us to use such descriptions for brevity and clarity, but ultimately, you are not tied to your anger in any final way. It was wrong for you to be treated the way you were treated, and your anger isn't somehow wrong, but you can learn to let go of it. (Really - I've seen this happen many times.)
posted by Cygnet at 5:45 AM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I also have anger issues although most of this gets turned around into depression the anger flares I've had scare me more than anything especially now that I'm a father. So, what I'm doing now is jiujitsu in a place where I win some and lose some. It wont cure what ails you, that takes a lot of work. However, it does vent very effectively.
posted by mearls at 5:55 AM on January 28, 2010


Your followup turned this question from "how do I roleplay/act this out to get relief in a controlled fantasy setting" to "how can I force people to respect mah authority the way I was forced to respect others in the real world." It reminded me of this question-- you might want to read through the responses....and continue to seek professional help.

What you want is assertiveness training and anger management-- not to play the part of bully (socialized or not). As the responses to that question show, people might go along with the bully but there's no real lasting respect for that in the professional, grown-up world. Your father may have been the most impressive, powerful person in your life, in a terrible way, but that's not real power, and not what you want if you want respect.
posted by availablelight at 6:04 AM on January 28, 2010


Like everyone else, I do not think that this is a healthy thing to indulge in:

"[W]hat I really want is a place where I am THE MAN IN CHARGE, with no exceptions. I want to force people to obey me or to go along with me, whether by will, prestige and position, or simple physical violence. I want to be the decisively dominant person in the situation, who can remove all choice from people except to do what he says. Also, I want to administer severe consequences to those who do not--I want to be the guy who beats the shit out of someone for getting out of line, and the guy everyone pays attention to after that."

But I really identify with this:

I guess the fact that I took a lot of shit from people bigger, stronger, and dumber than I was makes me want to beat the bullies on their home turf and in their terms.

The reason that I originally went to law school is because I wanted to work in the public interest protecting people who were poor, vulnerable, not educated, could not speak English, etc, from people who thought they held all the cards, and could get away with doing whatever they wanted to those people. Even though the work I did to that end was often boring, tedious, and mundane, and did not involve screaming at anyone or punching them out, I derived intense satisfaction from the knowledge that the people who thought they held all the cards would soon be screwed, or face other consequences.

If your anger and desire for revenge impairs your judgment, maybe you can't do that sort of thing right now, as people were saying upthread. But if you work through this enough to the point where it doesn't, maybe it would be helpful and healthy for you to find work like that. Something where you could protect others from bullies and make the bullies stop doing what they are doing.

In a different vein, you can also always volunteer as a court-appointed special advocate for abused children. I think it might help you feel a bit better.
posted by Ashley801 at 6:08 AM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also from your followup:

when I get out of hand, I just shout at people. That part was
inspired by an earlier draft of the question in which I said that when
I get on edge, I can become a bit of a Pesci.


Counterintuitively (and outside of the movies), the most ridiculed (behind their back) and disrespected men I've known, have been the short-fused Pescis, who don't get that what worked on them at the age of 8, doesn't work on a room full of grownups, particularly if they're not even related to you. Real power is restraint. Becoming angry and losing your temper just demonstrates that others have an unusual amount of power over YOU.
posted by availablelight at 6:30 AM on January 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


Sorry you had to endure this. I get it, totally, totally get it and been there. But it will lead to nowhere and you will become what you hate. And people will hate you. You're asking to be a bully/your father (like others said).

1. continue therapy until you get past the feelings of wanting to inflict someone pain or force them to do it your way or the highway (or a beating). This is a huge problem. Don't look for careers where abuse of power can happen (police, security guard, or even therapist or teacher)
2. exercise
3. when you get past the thought of putting pain on other people (mental/physical) perhaps direct that anger into a skill where you can develop confidence, peace such as karate, etc.
4. taking up acting. You can choose characters where you can be a jagoff and then when they say "cut" you're done. You let it out via your character.

Try to turn it into something productive, creative, admiring. You'll get the biggest power trip high you'll ever feel. Much better than being an @sshole inflicting power/pain over people.

Be well.
posted by stormpooper at 6:43 AM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


More generally, I'm not *violent*, just *angry*.

when I get out of hand, I just shout at people.


I would encourage you to remember - from your own experience - that there's more to violence than just physical violence. You can be violent and abusive without ever laying a hand on someone else.

I think it's wonderful that you're asking for help to break the cycle. Please take the advice given to seek professional help for this, because this is exactly the kind of behavior that gets dumped on a significant other.
posted by Salieri at 6:55 AM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have a lot of empathy for you. I had a pretty rotten childhood myself and routinely experience out-of-proportion emotions over everyday situations in which I feel powerless and frustrated. In my case, rather than directing my frustration outward with anger, I direct it inward with self-loathing. Any minor roadblock that gets between me and a particular goal will see me melt down and withdraw in order to avoid the out of control feelings.

I see a parallel in what you've written here. You do not enjoy the feeling of being powerless; your standard response is to get angry; consider that your anger may be a "beneficial" response to you in that it is a way to avoid the unpleasant feelings that overcome you whenever you are feeling disadvantaged by another.

In your feedback above you described a typical cycle:

* Someone wants something from me
* I refuse
* They use some kind of power (violence, threats, control of
resources, authority, whatever)

* I comply Can you work with your therapist on changing this part?
* I feel defeated and resentful

You are no longer a little boy who must do as mommy and daddy say or else -- you're an adult who is more or less free to refuse anything you like, so long as you're willing to bear the consequences of your decisions. You probably understand this, but the animal part of you that responds with anger clearly does not, and will not. The good news is that you do not need to let that part of you make your decisions. The bad news is that getting to the point where you fully accept this and live your life in accordance is tough, tough work.

Clearly I'm projecting a lot of my own experience onto your situation, but my sense is that indulging your anger is not going to help you overcome this struggle at all -- it's going to reinforce the response, because hey, you get angry -- you blow up -- bye bye, powerlessness! Until the next time you feel frustrated, anyway.

I read the entire thread but I don't recall seeing this addressed -- have you discussed this urge to act out your anger with your therapist? I'd be very surprised to hear that s/he thought this was a productive idea, though obviously that person knows you far better than any stranger on the internet could. If you haven't brought it up, I think you ought to, just to see what s/he has to say.

I'll finish this up by saying that my therapist has helped me to see that my emotional responses have pretty much nothing at all to do with the actual circumstances of the situations that lead to them, and reminding myself of that whenever I feel overwhelmed has been very helpful. It's hard work and slow going, though. I wish you the best.
posted by trunk muffins at 7:52 AM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm doing now is jiujitsu in a place where I win some and lose some.

I was just going to suggest this, or something similar. OP - there are entire gyms all across the country full of men and women that would be happy to let you try to force them into a submissive position. Look for MMA or Brazilian jiu-jitsu - there are LOTS of good school in your area.

And I mention this for two reasons: The physical exertion is good for the mental health. Wailing on a heavy bag for 20 minutes or forcing yourself to do another set of drills for me anyway is a big stress release.

The second is the control. Rage is unwanted and out of place since you're just training, plus is will cause you to make mistakes. But as you're training to fight, you will need to use controlled aggression to dominate your partner.
posted by anti social order at 8:55 AM on January 28, 2010


Echoing batting cages. Yelling at people isn't going to make this go away, sitting with it, identifying it, examining it, all while wailing on an inanimate object whose entire purpose in life is to be wailed upon? That helps. Lots.
posted by togdon at 8:59 AM on January 28, 2010


Please do not get involved in any form of BSDM. There are carefully structured rules to keep both parties unharmed, which includes safe words and pre-agreed upon arrangements, and I don't think you have the emotional control to be a safe dominant. Doms and subs are supposed to provide pleasure for each other, and you seem to be very self-interested without care for the well-being of the other person. Instead, how about boxing, ultimate fighting, or other sports where you have referees to keep the boundaries in place?
posted by lychee at 9:09 AM on January 28, 2010


The difference between mindfulness and meditation. Well, one is part of the other but they don't have to be the same thing.

From Wikipedia (I know, the authority of all things, but it's a quick link):

However, mindfulness does not have to be constrained to a formal meditation session. Mindfulness is an activity that can be done at any time; it does not require sitting, or focusing on the breath, but rather simply realizing what is happening in the present moment is mental content, including simply noticing the mind's usual "commentary". One can be mindful of the sensations in one's feet while walking, of the sound of the wind in the trees, or the feeling of soapy water while doing dishes. One can also be mindful of the mind's commentary: "I wish I didn't have to walk any further, I like the sound of the leaves rustling, I wish washing dishes weren't so boring and the soap weren't drying out my skin", etc. Once we identify experience as mental content, we have the freedom to cease identification with any judgments/perceptions: "washing dishes: boring" may become "The warm water is in unison with the detergent and is currently washing away the plate's grime, the sun is shining through the window and casting an ever greater shadow on the dish's white ceramics." In this example, one may see that washing does not have to be judged "boring"; washing dishes is only a process of coordinating dishes with soap and water. Any activity done mindfully is a form of meditation, and mindfulness is possible practically all the time.

When I referred to Mindfulness in my earlier comment, I was thinking of you developing the skill of identifying and being comfortable with your anger and whatever underlying emotions are causing it. Is it possible that the underlying emotions causing your anger are related to feelings of helplessness or vulnerability?
posted by dchrssyr at 10:11 AM on January 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you really ,really need to get the physical out and can't manage the control, perhaps ultimate cage fighting?
posted by stormpooper at 1:21 PM on January 28, 2010


My Mom was bipolar, or something like it. My ex-husband's Dad is a nasty SOB, who probably abused my ex- physically, and certainly emotionally. I have a lot of compassion, and empathy, for you.
Anger is an emotion, and also a primal physical state. Meditation has many forms. I'd recommend it to you to work on controlling the hold that anger has on you; finding better ways of responding to irritating or painful stimuli, and reaching acceptance of your past, and maybe forgiving your father, and the other adults who should have protected you and didn't.
I think you might enjoy and benefit from tai chi, as a mix of meditation, exercise, martial art and spirituality. Therapists differ widely, but a therapist who could help you learn meditation techniques would be a big help. Meditation isn't necessarily all tinkly chimes and New Age atonal music. It involves discipline and self-control.
posted by theora55 at 5:09 PM on January 28, 2010


In a different vein, you can also always volunteer as a court-appointed special advocate for abused children.

God, no. Those are real live children, not therapy dolls. If they don't act the way the OP wants them to, if they don't listen when he offers his "carefully-reasoned thoughts," will he lose his shit? They've been through enough; don't sic this guy on them, for goodness' sake.

I agree with jenfullmoon, OP, that you're nowhere near ready to be around small people you can easily scare into submission, and meanwhile give yourself that little hit of cheap affirmation you're still so desperate for.
posted by palliser at 7:27 PM on January 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I understand more than I want to about the kind of anger you're talking about. In seeing your follow up, I wonder if you could work on the interactions where -

* Someone wants something from me
* I refuse

You learn to set healthy boundaries and keep them in place in ways that don't involve physical or emotional violence.


In the short term, bullying other people can make you feel like you're in charge and being listened to, but the real way to gain agency over your own life is to be in control of yourself - and stop giving in to unreasonable demands in the first place.

It's so painful to be carrying around that kind of hurt and anger, and I really hope you stick with the counseling until you find the peace you deserve.

Good luck.

and like others have said, this isn't what BDSM is for.
posted by Space Kitty at 5:01 PM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Alternatively, is there a reasonable way for me to stop wanting this?

I think this is your real question, because, as others have pointed out above, you aren't really going to find a realistic environment for your first one. You have some good info above in regards to answering the latter question, but I'll add my two cents, which are summed up here. I came from a line of angry fathers and used to be quite an angry person myself, and I can say from experience that the linked info really helped. Also, in my case, learning to *not care* about stuff was really important, and that was a lesson I began to learn through books like Don't Sweat The Small Stuff.
posted by allkindsoftime at 11:05 PM on January 31, 2010


I think you should find a (safe, etc.) way to act this out. I think you need it, even if no one understands why or how it will help. It's something you need to do, at least once, just to see what it's like to be the powerful one, not the victim. It's natural for a boy to want to be like his father. Your natural desire was thwarted because your father was such a horrible abusive prick. A sensation of real power is great for people who were so long powerless. After you feel your own power as a real possibility, you can then move on to forgiveness and understanding and compassion and all of that.

I would suggest you put some effort into creating a scene in which this could happen. Even just putting it together could really be therapeutic. You are taking control and orchestrating your own power. Be an adult about it, and find safe, practical, realistic ways to achieve your goal:

- Ask a friend to let you do this for a couple of hours. Offer to pay him (probably better if it's a him). Boss him around, tell him what to do, yell at him, etc. You might find that 10 minutes into it, it's not for you. A friend is good because you can debrief afterwards and feel comfortable.

- Find a therapist who will let you do this (not necessarily your regular therapist, maybe just for this one event). The empty chair technique operates on exactly this principle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empty-chair_technique). You have been doing this by yourself -- see if you can find someone who will help and encourage you to get it all out. They can help you yell at the chair and boss it around until you are exhausted from it.

- Craigslist, that cornucopia of hidden human desire. Place an ad asking for someone who will let you yell at them. Explain the situation, why you want to do it. Pay well. I'm sure there's someone down on their luck who would think it's easy money to make a few hundred dollars for an hour or so of listening to some dude yell and have a power trip. People get paid a lot less at fast food jobs and put up with the same crap.

Keep in mind that this may not help you -- it isn't equivalently wonderful to be an adult abusing others as it is horrible to be a child who is abused. And if you really did enjoy this stuff, you'd probably already be doing it and have some exquisite rationalization as to why it's totally fine (like your Dad did). But I do think that giving yourself permission to get what you need, that it's okay to want this and pursue it, is very important. People have all kinds of strange desires, and there's a (safe, etc.) way to satisfy most of them.

Afterwards, I think you should find ways to gain extreme power in your own life. Go do some crazy, amazing shit. Climb a mountain. Do extreme sports. Do art installations that terrify and amaze people. Take some risks. And as you do it, tell your give your father the finger and tell him to righteously fuck off.
posted by alternateuniverse at 3:23 AM on May 28, 2010


Also, what Cygnet said.
posted by alternateuniverse at 3:25 AM on May 28, 2010


« Older I need help dealing with rowdy...   |  I am looking for recommendatio... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.


Post