Tuesday, May 28, 2013

On Anger

From my last job I learned a lot about anger. The anger and resentment my last employer created in me was pervasive and ever present. This forced me to get introspective about what I was feeling, why, and to question its validity. I will preface all of this by saying that yes, I am an angry man, not generally in a blustery sort of way, but rather at the bigger picture of life in this world. Every day I see the way this world works, and every day it makes me angry. But this is generally the kind of anger that simmers gently on the inside. It keeps me thinking and from complacently accepting greed, exploitation, war mongering, ignorance and abusive behavior by those in power.
That being said what I felt towards the managers at my last job was the sort of rage one feels when one is willfully mistreated without even the decency to see the error of their actions or to apologize to those they hurt. Shortly put, both I and the majority of my lower level co workers were abused both verbally and psychologically for months on end. I observed that friends and co workers who voiced complaints were castigated, blacklisted, and alienated by the management. I felt I had no recourse but to shoulder it, keep myself wired tight, and finish out the time. The severity of the mistreatment also increased over time, so initially I thought I would have an easier time making due. I didn’t. In the end only a promise I made to a girl I love that I would stay kept me. I was bitter, I was angry, and by halfway through the season this changed the way I acted noticeably. I snapped at people, said violent things and was harder to work with at points than I am sure I have ever been before.
Despite all of this I left work the way I wanted to, holding the girls hand. She stayed for a few days after work was over, then she went home. I thought I had made it, but I wasn’t quite clear. The rage was still lodged in there and I couldn’t shake it. I would relive being mistreated in my dreams and wake up pissed off. I cannot adequately describe how awful that feels. When I called to tell my former employer I wasn’t coming back I told them I had things left to say. I was told to write them up. I did so, I wrote a searing letter. It was more than a little intense. In it I called out the management for their transgressions and the shortcomings in their program. Despite the tone of the letter, I told them I wanted this to be the end of it, that I wrote it to purge myself of negative feelings and wanted to potentially remain involved as a volunteer. Doing the work non professionally brought me joy and I didn’t want to lose that. The letter served its purpose, knowing that they read what I wrote gave me peace. The dreams stopped. But not surprisingly, people in charge don’t like having their flaws cast into light, especially not by their “inferiors.” They like it even less when other employees are informed. I was forced to come in and talk this over with the management in order to be cleared to volunteer if I so chose. I did so, it seemed to go well but the manager I talked to called in one of my friends after the fact, fished for details on stuff I had said while angry and found what he needed to ban me from returning, violent statements made by yours truly. I was wrong to say some of the things I did but the person I was then was the product of this organizations mistreatment, not the man I truly am. Regardless, my friend betrayed me, recommended against my return based on an assessment of me in a situation which was no longer relevant, refused to see the logic of my argument when I confronted him about it, and in the end willingly sacrificed our friendship through his actions.
This was a serious blow to me and I took a long time wrestling with it. His assertion that I constituted a valid workplace threat flew in the face of how well I felt he knew me. He felt, based albeit on no valid qualification to make this type of determination, that in my stressed state I had developed a mental disorder of some sort. He self righteously informed me that if the job made me that miserable I should have quit. He disregarded my promise to another as a valid reason to stay, sanctimoniously informing me that she would rather have seen me happy somewhere else. This guy makes a habit of making sweeping pronouncements he is no position to defend. I countered further that I had no other employment arranged to pay my bills. Apparently in this individuals experience this was an invalid reason to stay as well, as “bills just sort themselves out.” If anyone else agrees with this statement please let me know as in my experience nothing could be further from the truth. Also, unlike this individual I don’t have a wife to pay the bills for me. That must be nice. I was further preached to concerning the letter, apparently “when one pens a cathartic letter one destroys it and pens a professional one.” I cant stand someone with so much nerve that they just sermonize to you the proper action for every aspect of life. How dare he tell me what is correct and what I must do in my life? The letter I wrote would not have been cathartic for me unless read by the people who wronged me, as they are either unwilling or incapable of seeing the error in their treatment of people and must have it pointed out to them, if necessary with written blunt force trauma.
I came to the conclusion that this individual could not be more misguided in his thoughts or actions. No one else who knew me while I was going through this felt the need to inform on me. Also as a volunteer he no doubt feels he is equal to we who did this work professionally. In case you are reading this, you are nothing but a tourist until you work the job for real, day in, day out. You have no idea what I went through and are abjectly deprived of footing to make the judgments you did unless you lived the life. You never will. With this taken into consideration it is ludicrous for this person to have piously co-opted some sort of farcical absolute authority of what is or is not acceptable to do or say. This is a world of gray in which we must all make our own way, striking out in search of a balanced code of conduct that works for us. I am not advocating some morally weak, comparative form of right and wrong which allows everyone to just do as they please without regard for others. I will continue to do as I see fit, and have no qualms about it. Being angry about being treated horrendously does not constitute the development of a mental disorder, especially not based on the opinion of an unqualified, sanctimonious individual who has no perspective on my situation, either at work or in my larger life. The opinion of this person counts for even less when I was told that Sandy Hook “really put things in perspective” for him, as this demonstrates him as yet another one of the mindless sheeple out there, quaking in fear every time he sees a violent tragedy on television. Pathetic. A large part of his argument furthering this opinion was based on violence, both of my words, and thoughts as expressed on paper. I find nothing abnormal about wanting to strike someone who mercilessly torments you and is so warped as to see nothing wrong with it. Also, key point here, I never did.
After having made peace with my conclusion on all of this I found a copy of my letter weeks after the fact. I re-read it, thinking maybe I could have been more understanding, or even after about a dozen proof readings may have spoken to soon. It turns out this is not the case. I stand behind the letter, my thoughts, and actions one hundred percent. I stand by my written words and the man that I am. I will ignore others unfounded and ignorant opinions of me, because they are just that, ignorant and unfounded, based on a model of myself at a very low point in life brought on by others.

This will be followed by a piece on violence and our perception, and relationship with it in society.

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