I Can’t Get Well Until I Put Down My Gun

About six months ago, I was telling my therapist about how defended I was. No matter what the bastards did to me, I had my blog. Anyone treats me badly, I can write ’em up. I’m defended. I have barricades. I have Mutually Assured Destruction so nobody sane messes with me. I have nothing to lose. Go ahead, make my day.

My therapist looked at me and said, “What if you can’t get well until you put down your gun?”

That shook me up.

I rely so much on the feelings of anger and vengeance to provide me the energy I need to write and to live. Without this motivation, I’m not sure I’d have the strength to accomplish anything. The problem is, so long as I act and write out of anger and revenge, my acting and writing is poisoned by my emotional addictions.

I know the choice between sitting in shame and sitting in rage and I’d rather sit in rage. I’d rather be angry than depressed. Isn’t depression rage turned inward? I’d rather point outward.

I’ve been working the Fourth Step of the 12-step program, making a “complete and fearless moral inventory.” The AA Big Book asks that I list off everyone I feel resentment towards and then go through those relationships and look to see where I was at fault. As I do this, I feel flooded with shame and chagrin. Other people don’t seem so horrible. I seem so fallible. I fall off my white horse of righteous indignation. I can no longer see myself as God’s servant, delivering divine karma through my blog.

Revenge is such a powerful motivator. It’s a great source of energy. But what if it is a poison? Often what sustains us and feeds us also kills us. Think about a town with a tannery in some Richard Russo novel. The town depends on the industry to provide all the jobs and tax revenue but that industry is simultaneously poisoning its water and killing the population with cancers.

My life often felt bereft and so I’d treasure the sights of the attractive women who’d pass my way. I needed that eros, I needed that energy, that joy, that shot of inspiration to get through my day, but what I was storing up was a poison to my soul, it was eroticized rage, and every time I took a draft, I was deepening my addictions and isolating myself from real people and real connection. This lack of real human connection opens me up to the sway of my addictive emotions.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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