When l was 14 my Mother wanted to have me see a therapist for ‘anger management’ issues – in her eyes, l was a very angry young man and that wasn’t acceptable. She also wanted my Father to attend ‘anger management therapy’ because he too like his Son was a very angry man.
We, as in my Father and l were oblivious to the autism spectrum – we knew as much of autism as we did about flying Spitfires! In other words, we knew fuck all.
Looking back at that time, which for me now is 40 years ago; l can recall with clarity how l felt and l ‘was’ angry, as well as confused and continually overwhelmed and overrun with stress! I wasn’t just angry at that; l was living in the house that Freddy Krueger built! From the time l awoke to the time l went to bed and when not at school, the living environment was like a war zone.
Both my parents were constantly at each other’s proverbial throats, and when not that my Father was violent toward both my Mother and myself – growing up, was NOT an easy task, and it was very difficult and at times horribly awkward to try and lead a passive tension and anxiety free life.
In simple terms it was never achieved.
I used to be bullied at school, mostly by teachers who thought l was stupid or slow or backward if not all three combined, because although ‘l was a gifted child’, l didn’t like to apply my talents usefully! But also, l had the most appalling handwriting known to mankind and nothing was ever legible even to me – so when challenged what it was that l had written, most of the times l couldn’t read it myself.
I wasn’t ‘naughty’ at school, but many teachers said l mixed with the wrong crowd, or l was considered inappropriate with my behaviour, said the wrong thing or acted oddly. I didn’t specifically mix with the wrong people, l happened to belong to a couple of groups; one was the geeks or nerds if you wish and the other was a bunch l found somewhat funny, so l became embroiled in pranks and soon became known as a comic prankster for my high jinks!
It was of course school stuff, nothing that in my eyes was so terrible, it wasn’t even really majorly disruptive to classes or anything , l did everything during breaks or at lunch time, but alas it was considered unbefitting.
Teachers wanted to know WHY l behaved like this.
I had to keep everything under wraps, l couldn’t discuss my oddball Father, or his violence at home, his aggressive behaviour towards my mother and myself, l couldn’t discuss my own confusions, my own stresses, or why l felt the need to behave the way l did. It wasn’t for attention as they suggested, it was for escapism – l could pretend to be someone else instead of me!
I was a nerd, a geek, l read, l did geeky things, l lived in a bubble when not at school, away from my parents up in my room, reading books mostly on horror and war, played with soldiers on table tops and in the loft, was too shy for girls, and lived in constant fear and terror of my Fathers’ temper and outbursts!
If we ever snapped together and it DID happen on occasion, we collided like two dirty great tidal waves or asteroids hitting each other at 190 miles an hour, our tempers were above volatile! We were too explosive for each other. But my Father was an adult man, whereas l was a teenage boy, l couldn’t ‘hit’ my Father! I could slam doors, shout, throw things around – but not in his face, not at him, could never voice my distress at him, never direct my anger at him and say – “Who the fuck do you think you are?!”
It would take me 26 years to say that to him, l was 40 – except by then , we were no longer living in the same house and growing up together as Son and Father, those days had gone. But at 40, l stood my ground and said “Enough! I am no longer a scared 14 year old boy, l am a 40 year old man, who can finally say to a bully – back off – no more will you exercise the terror into my life, l am my own man now, no longer a frightened little boy!”
It still took 26 years to openly say that to him, 26 years l had held on to the terror of growing up with an aggressive manipulative bully when l was at home, a man who left an indelible mark on his Son – one that would never just go quickly, but would take years, and years to slowly disappear from a heavily guarded and vaulted memory bank.
I had dreamed for years how l would say things to him about growing up with him, and in the end it was a quiet word with him, to say ‘You broke me when l was a kid. But l can forgive you, l cannot easily forget, but l can forgive you!” And so l forgave him, but l have never forgotten, and in truth, l don’t think l ever truly healed.
Not a cry for sympathy, just a fact. I left home broken, damaged and then life like everyone else’s jumped on board my journey, and moulded me further into the man l am today. I broke quite a few times on that journey and although l received some help – that was only the form of a plaster upon another plaster – way of life isn’t it?!
We all are broken people; it is the sad state affairs of the world in which we live, because life isn’t simple. We are no longer bloody cavemen sitting around a fire worrying about whether we eat, or get eaten – that is stress enough – but that stress is ultimate and final – you eat or die, or die by being eaten!
Now, we are not just eaten by many, but crucified by everything else, and life’s so much harder than caveman days – the stress is longer, and our minds are simply not able to cope with continuous stress! So we break more often, apply a temporary fix, get up and start again or wash, rinse, repeat cycle! We are never properly fixed, so we are always properly broken. Getting fixed isn’t that easy either, if you can afford to get fixed, then you might well pretend that having spent x amount of £/$ that you are better, but l guarantee you WILL break again! And if you can’t afford to get fixed quickly, then you have to wait till a fix is available which might be months and months away and not next day! So in essence you patch yourself up, your way and wash, rinse repeat!!
I found out when l was 44 that l was an Aspergian. I was on the autistic spectrum with the disorder and suddenly l knew why when younger l had such a terrible rage that was never spent out. I could recognise the traits within my own Father and his own Father, my Grandfather. But my Father thinks Aspergers and autism is backward and refuses to even remotely express any interest in my “flawed disorders and extreme mental health problems!”
My Father when l was younger experienced the black rages as l did, he lashed out at those who loved him and soon they hated him for it. I, on the other hand, lashed out at myself, determined to NOT hurt others whilst l raged. But l hurt myself and oh how l did hurt myself!
Back then outbursts were inevitable – it came with the undiagnosed autistic territory. My Father got away with it, because those he bullied were too terrified to tell anyone about his temper. His Son didn’t fare so well, he acquired a bad reputation for being naughty, mischievous and detrimental, and of having mental problems, and quite possibly schizophrenia! Whilst at home, when he could explode, he had a Mother who thought he was stark raving bonkers, who was just as volatile towards him as his Father and violently lashed out as much and who was oft bewildered why her son screamed at walls, and ran around brandishing weapons like Zulu spears or Japanese Katanas, who talked constantly to himself when not crying and who only wanted to be left alone!
Life was hard as an undiagnosed Aspergian on the spectrum, life was hard after that and life continues to be hard to this day.
Luckily, the rages are not as frequent as they once were, but l can attain a 0-volatile in 10 seconds if my stress is high – thankfully l do recognise when l am about to blow and can offer warnings if my stress has hit critical.
The Anger Of Autism
Many of us on the spectrum can be prone to angry outbursts and behaviour, which can be significantly worsened if we are filled with anxiety and or stress if not both. These angers can be at times extremely aggressively volatile and highly explosive. Over the years members of my family and loved ones alike have been witness to these volatilities and the fierceness of the explosion has left more than a few of them reeling in shock sometimes long after the anger has dissipated from me. I have battled my anger since l was a child, and l am pleased to say that it is only when my stress levels have hit critical that ‘outbursts and extreme explosive nature’ is displayed.
I am further pleased that not once have l ever struck another human being, but l have turned the aggression in on myself and my own body and punished myself for the anger. I have worked very hard to ensure that the inner demons within my mind do not cause physical harm to those that l love and care for unlike my own Father who never thought once, let alone twice about who was standing in his path of pure hatred.
When l was growing up, whilst l knew l had anger issues and wanted help with them, my Father and equally my Mother denied that they too suffered with the same issues, whilst they could openly acknowledge that the other had it, they could never recognise it within themselves. They took great delights in pointing out my own problems.
What causes the anger?
1] Becoming overwhelmed with day to day stresses
2] Becoming overwhelmed by people, crowds, society and their ignorance towards the sufferer.
3] Disorder – change of routines, established and otherwise – change.
4] Stress build up, anxiety, tension overloads
5] Difficulty understanding social etiquettes and graces.
6] People’s stupidity.
7] Emotional stability, over tired
I have learned to understand what my triggers are and side step if not walk away from potential problems. So learning to adapt and understand limits and boundaries would be beneficial. The link below may assist those who are looking to garner more knowledge with strategies on how to cope with their own anger issues or helping another cope with their own.
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