Sin of the Week: Wrath
Posted by Rystefn on March 6, 2009
Once again, for the Sin of the Week over at Perhaps We Learned Something, this week’s essay is on my least favorite – wrath. Very probably safe for work, this week, but possibly more about me than you wanted to know.
So, almost anyone who knows me beyond a passing acquaintance knows I’m a masochist. I don’t mean that in the way of “into a little biting and spanking,” either. I think last week’s entry about lust spelled that out relatively clearly. (Yes, I really do have the scars, and yes, I really instruct lovers to try to break bones if they hold back too much.) I am not, however, a sadist. I mean, if I’m with someone who likes it rough and rowdy, I’m perfectly capable of playing that game full-tilt, but I enjoy my lovers’ enjoyment, not the act of inflicting pain.
I’m also not one to get angry. Most people have never seen me angry, even people who’ve known me for many years. I don’t stifle it, smother it, hold it in, or deal with it – I literally just don’t feel the emotion very often. I guess I just reached a point fairly early in life where I realized that I don’t see things the way most people do, that my morals, ethics, politics, and proclivities rarely jive with those of the people around me, and I’ll rarely see eye-to-eye with anyone. If I was the sort to get mad, I’d be a seething ball of rage constantly. Hell, even physically attacking me usually won’t make me angry in and of itself, what with the masochism and all.
What could I possibly have to say on the subject or wrath, then? Well, sadly, that is an emotion I’m far more familiar with than I’d like. The things that do make me angry make me exceptionally angry. The fact that something’s managed to break my generally pleasant ant easy going worldview makes me get even more angry, I’m sure, and a very ugly self-feeding cycle of rage builds up rapidly.
I’m not proud of it. I don’t enjoy being this way. I go pretty far out of my way to avoid the things that have a chance of making me angry. My blood relations are spectacularly good at this, so if you’ve wondered why I don’t even speak to most of them, that’s why.
I’m sure many of my readers have noticed that I’m also extremely protective of certain people. You may have seen some very hostile reactions on my part spring out of this. Hostility is not the same as anger, but there are similarities enough, and they often are closely intertwined.
If you haven’t guessed, this is leading up to a story, and as usual with a story I don’t particularly want to tell, I’m stalling. It’s a bad habit, I know. Anyway, this story takes place back in November, not long after my father died. My older brother had managed to track me down, and he was coming around pretty often to deal with the pile of crap people leave behind when they have no life insurance and no will. I think you can guess that tempers ran hot.
If you didn’t know, my brother is a racist shithead. Openly so, in fact, and completely without shame about it. Sabrina, by the way, was born in Hong Kong. One day he made a couple of casually racist comments about her, which pissed me off for obvious reasons. Now, Sabrina sometimes has confrontation issues, and more often than I think is good for her, sits back and lets people treat her badly, but this time, she stood up for herself and said something back to him. Nothing too extreme, just something to the tune of “if you have such a problem with me, you can get out of my house” or something like that.
Now, my older brother was raised to think that everything he says and does is right and proper by virtue of the fact that it was him who said or did it. It’s not entirely his fault that he’s a douche, my family literally taught him this (Oldest Child syndrome multiplied by fifty – he was the first of my generation among a large extended family, all of whom doted on him). So, despite the fact that he’s above thirty years old, he throws a temper tantrum. Flips out, yelling and screaming, and throws the remote across the room.
I never saw it hit. I found later that it broke against the wall, but in that moment, all I could see was my violent, racist brother throwing something, I didn’t know what, at the woman I love, who just happens to be a hundred and fifty pounds lighter than him and almost a foot shorter.
Have you ever heard the phrase “tunnel vision”? It’s not a figure of speech. My entire universe shrunk down to a narrow tunnel with myself at one end and the monster attacking Sabrina at the other. I don’t think he knew I carry a gun before that, but I’m sure he’ll never forget after.
Let me take a moment to say this: I am not careless or casual about firearms. I served in the Army, and I’ve seen what they can do, whether you mean them to or not. I am an excellent marksman, and even scored sharpshooter left-handed with the pistol. I wasn’t being reckless and stupid when I did what I did. I was consumed by rage in way I have never been before or since, and hope to never be again.
In that moment, we were not brothers. There was no history between us. It wasn’t about him trying to have his way, and it wasn’t about me trying get out of his shadow. He and I both saw something in me that day neither had seen before – wrath. Pure, unbridled rage barely on the edge of control. Maybe he tried to say something to calm me down. I think it’s likely. Probably Sabrina did, too. I can’t say. I don’t remember much, honestly. Most of it is fuzzy and blurry in hindsight. Probably a blessing, that. Hard enough to live with as it is.