Sometimes it happens. I don’t know why a certain day or a certain event seems to tip the scale and trigger the Beast more than others. Maybe my energy is out of whack, my vibration a little wobbly. I don’t know.
But it rises up in me fast, starting from a tiny little swirl at first. I can sense that the swirl is there from the time I wake up, and I know that all I have to do is release the lock on my control and it will spin into a full vortex. I yell, or more like ROAR …it comes with such force that it grates my throat raw. I can feel that physical effect almost immediately. The roaring sort of soothes my buzzing, raging brain for a few seconds as it is being released. It comes out of my mouth, but also my eyes and sometimes my hands.
It was directed at my dog today.
My son had just knocked over my coffee while tugging his coat down off the entryway bench. There was coffee spilled all over the floor and on his coat, which then he couldn’t wear even though it was 29 degrees out.
I cleaned the coffee up; he said he was sorry; I didn’t yell. I breathed. Several deep ones, in and out. I put the coat and the towels in the laundry sink, calmly, even though this was one more thing ticking away at the time it would take us to load the car and get him to school.
Then I went back to the front door, and my daughter couldn’t get her coat zipped. “Mom, mom, mom! Help me.” So I set down my half-empty dripping coffee cup (again) to help her. (Breathe, breathe… one more thing ticking away at the time to get out the door…)
But my dog started barking, as he always does when we have our coats on and start to exit the front door. He was frantically running back and forth across the entryway and barking this high-pitched “YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP!”
The sound of that YIP hit a delicate spot inside my brain and puffed at that swirl I had woken up with, fueling it into a vortex and blasting it out of my throat: “SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU STUPID DOG!!!!” and out of my hands: I grabbed him around the belly and dragged him up. Growling like a Beast, I flung him onto the couch in the living room. The raging-vortex-roar had eaten all the words and all I could do was spew another, louder growl at him as he cowered from where he had slid off the edge of the couch. I could feel my eyes still shooting fire as I turned back to face my children standing in the doorway.
“That dog needs to shut up,” one of them echoed. (Ugh, throat tightens…I feel the shame inside as they hold up the mirror to the despicable behavior I have forced my children to witness.)
They knew the Beast; they’d seen her before. There was a time before sobriety when I would turn the Beast on them instead of the dog. The worst memory is of my young son scampering backwards towards the wall, his face shiny with tears and twisted in fear as I lunged towards him, roaring: “YOU WANNA SEE BAD MOMMY?!?! I’LL SHOW YOU BAD MOMMY!!!”
Ugh, such shame. Of all the despicable things I’ve done (mostly to myself) in my sordid past, that memory holds the most guilt. I didn’t actually hit him or touch him physically in any way – my pilot light of self-control saw to that, thankfully – but I was the cause of the darkest terror I have ever seen cross his face. I wasn’t even drunk at the time, just mired in a perpetual state of low vibration from the constant fatigue of hangovers and dissatisfaction. I know I put this Beast in there somehow. Or at least I have fed it and watered it enough to ensure its continued residence in my bowels.
Later, when the rage has passed and I have cried into my hands, forehead pressed to the floor, hair wet from the puddle of snot and shame, I look back and shake that Beast, demanding answers: Where did You come from? Are You a remnant of a childhood fear or did You grow large during the years of alcohol and self-abuse? Are You always there lurking in my shadows or did I call You forth from a nightmare? Can I see You coming and turn to fight? Can You be slayed or tamed or must I learn to accept Your occasional uprising like a cold sore on my soul?
She doesn’t answer. I feel tiny and defeated. I feel like I have failed those I love.
Perhaps if I bring the Beast into the light her shape will shift, and what appeared to my panicking eyes as a monster sharp of tooth and claw is really a frightened, wounded child yelping and thrashing. Maybe the Beast is actually smaller than her shadow makes her seem. Maybe fighting her and engaging in her tantrum, makes the looming fearful illusion more concrete. I have followed her childlike emotion down the rabbit hole. Perhaps the Beast just needs a hug sometimes, just like my 4-year-old daughter when she is consumed with despair and angry frustration over a broken popsicle.
There it is: Spilled coffee. Broken popsicle. It fucking sucks either way. It’s all the same. We are only human.
Still, it’s hard to forgive the Beast, or to forgive myself for letting the Beast take over the controls…For leaving scared, crying children in the wake of my unrestrained emotions.
Even when you are 43, you can sometimes get lost in the despair of it all and follow the Beast into the darkness to scream and pout and kick.
Be better, I tell myself. Be better tomorrow.
©Skye Nicholson 2020