TEMPER, TEMPER, TEMPER

Fandango’s Provocative Question #100

Do all of us have a dark side? Certainly many of us have darker impulses, but a whole side? As in 50% of me is slithering towards evil? That sounds a bit Hitchcockian to me. I don’t think I have a “dark side.” I have a temper which is (finally) in permanent lockdown, but in my past triggered some not-so-great moments. The question is:

My father, who was exceptionally bad-tempered, violent, and probably suffering from a variety of personality disorders, eventually stopped beating his kids. It wasn’t personal growth. More like we got too big (my brother) or moved out (me and my brother). He never learned to deal with what was probably bi-polarity, among plenty of other issues. I remember him once telling me (I was grown up by then) he was in trouble with whichever wife it was (after my mother died, he remarried and when she died too, he married again) because he’d been living in “the basement of his personality.” As one of his offspring, I knew what that meant. When he got ugly, he was really ugly. HE had a dark side. I’m not sure he had a light side.

There was a period in our lives when he was intermittently suicidal. My brother and I got to haul his ass to the ER to have them pump out his stomach from whatever he’d taken. He was offered therapy, but felt he was too smart for a therapist. His goal was to prove he was smarter than any therapist. When it became clear he would not accept help, they shrugged and let him go. He was unwilling to change. He had an excuse for every bad behavior.

One of the most disturbing things about Trump was how much he reminded me of dad. The narcissism combined with rage and fury — it was like going home. Not in a good way.

I’m not sure if I have an evil side. I used to have an evil temper. Until I finally got it under control, I did stuff I regret. But I don’t have a long list of things I regret, either. Most of the stuff I’m sorry I did happened when I was young and hadn’t figured out who I was. I learned from the mistakes. Sometimes, from making the same mistake several times. I also got myself into situations which were stupid and occasionally dangerous, but don’t we all do that? Aren’t young people supposed to do weird stuff as a way to discover who they are?

I spent a lot of effort trying to be nothing like my father. I knew the tendency towards violence to one’s children runs in families, so I was super careful about it. By the way (digression, sorry), have you noticed that what is considered good parenting in one generation is dismissed by the next gen as completely wrong? Yet somehow, we endure.

The original Angry Bird was a woodpecker

Getting back to the original question, I’m not clear what a bad side really is. These days, my worst side is impatience. The older I get, the less tolerant I seem to be. I get snappish faster. Things like trying to explain the computer to Garry — after three decades — has gotten old. Why am I boring both of us by explaining (again) that “the computer” is a machine and the stuff you do on it uses programs or applications? I have yet to to find a way to clarify the difference between “The Computer” versus an “Application.” Never mind. Hand me your computer. I’ll fix it.

I think most of our behavior which isn’t criminal isn’t a “bad side.” It’s just our unhappy, cranky, and grumpy side. The bored “I want to GO somewhere and DO something” grouchiness following 9-months of quarantine with who-knows-how-many more months to come. I’ve tried hard to not become a grouch, but it hasn’t been easy. I was noticeably easier to get along with before the March 2020 lockdown. By now, I’m worn out. The election is over and we have two vaccines which may eventually become available to us.

I suppose the good news is that we can hope if we don’t die first, life will get better by next summer. Right now, next summer feels like it’s a million years in the future.



Categories: #FPQ, evil, Getting old, Photography, Provocative Questions, quarantine, Word Prompt

Tags: , , , ,

24 replies

  1. I know you aren’t seeking praise, but I must praise you for having stopped the cycle that your father was in. You have wisdom to understand that there was something wrong with him and that things didn’t have to continue that way. I really enjoyed your post. You are a good writer too.

    Like

    • First, thank you. I was pretty sure that my father had a terrible childhood about which he never spoke. He never mentioned his family at all, though my mother said they were a bunch of criminals. I think there were a lot of them and I don’t think they were ALL criminals, but I got the point. I eventually learned his mother ran a brothel so it was probably ugly. He carried it with him and made our childhood ugly, too. I was fiercely determined to NOT bring his past with me.

      I knew that there was something seriously wrong with him and it wasn’t just a “bad temper.” I wish I could go back to the past. Dope my father’s coffee with anti-depressants and anti-bipolar meds and create a better life for all of us.

      Thank you again. I was a writer my entire working life. Non fiction only, but it was satisfying.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I have become less patient and less tolerant as I’ve grown older. I guess that’s just a natural evolution for people as we age. It’s not evil or a dark side, per se. It’s just that our days are numbered and we don’t have time to put up with nonsense and stupidity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. I simply can’t listen to youthful bullshit and act like I’m seriously interested. I’m not interested. Not merely am I not interested, I’m actively hostile. I bite my tongue and smile, but it’s fake and I’m sure everyone knows it.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. We’re all hope for a better year 2021, Marilyn.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the parable we tell our kids at Sunday school that we all have two wolves inside us in battle. One is anger, hate, hurt, self-pity, jealousy, superiority, etc. The other wolf is kindness, compassion, truth, humility, generosity, hope, etc. The wolf that wins, is the wolf we feed. I’ve always thought the two wolves were more simple: the wolf of fear and the wolf of love, as all the other emotions stem from these in some way. When I feel any of the negative emotions, I ask myself what I am fearing. It makes it easier for me to understand. So I guess in answer to your question, I think we all have the potential for a “dark” side of various degrees, but also the potential for the “light side” in equal measure, depending on what we feed. That being said, chemical imbalances skew everything, don’t they, and many people have no control over how they deal with their demons.

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    • I suspect that everyone has some ability to deal with their demons if at least being willing to admit there ARE demons and seek help. A lot of people LIKE their demons. Those demons contain untrammeled ambition, mean-spiritedness, bigotry, pride and greed. The last time I read some of C.S. Lewis, he was of the opinion it wasn’t fear but pride that was the killer sin and the basis of all other sins. It’s the only one we can feel is okay. After all, isn’t it okay to be proud of one’s achievements? Define “achievement” without it turning mean. Fear makes me anxious, worried, sleepless and sometimes, a bit snappish — but it doesn’t turn me to evil.

      This is a GREAT philosophical discussion!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Interesting thought, that pride and not fear is the killer sin of sorts. I can certainly see this in at least one person. My husband’s mother was a narcissist who lived a life of great first impressions, but lasting damage to just about everyone who got caught in her closer whirlpool of pride, vanity, and selfishness. I know at first I thought all the theatrics were a cover for a fearful little girl inside, but as time went by, and with the help of a very good therapist, I came to realize that a narcissist will not change because (s)he believes (s)he is without fault and have no reason to change. They are wired differently, from whatever reason nurture or nature. She never changed until the day she died, and continued her toxic behavior right to the end. I still think there had to be a fearful little girl in there somewhere, but all I do know for sure is that she indeed fed the negativity delightfully throughout her life never stopping for a moment to consider that she caused anyone else pain. She was, after all, prideful in that she was right 100% of the time.

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        • Narcissists’ don’t change. Whatever is wrong is someone else’s fault. HOW they behave is not always the same. Some do good things. They are narcissistic but well intentioned. I think this is common among politicians and heavy hitters in the business world. However, pride is more than that and isn’t always narcissistic. Bigots are full of pride in their own birth — as if they had something to do with it! And smart people tend to be prideful. Proud of our achievements, proud of our kids, proud of everything we’ve done. C.S. Lewis wrote a whole book about this. Actually, several. Mind you, he was a very conservative Christian and a Catholic (Church of England) too, but he was a very deep thinker and lucky for me, a good writer. If you haven’t read it, try reading “The Screwtape Letters.” It’s a novella and it’s funny (!), but there are a lot of interesting points in it.

          Liked by 1 person

    • “The wolf that wins, is the wolf we feed.” Hey that is a really good line to remember! Short and sweet but invites much self-analysis.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Impatience is I think a sign of age. I feel that my tolerance has gone down a lot.

    Like

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