Circumstances as a child made me agreeable to a clinical degree. Circumstances that I am not yet ready to publish publicly, but I will, I make a promise to you and to myself. Language is my single greatest inspiration and frustration. I can get lost in the playful syntax of Walt Whitman or Maya Angelou, but I feel another sense of loss when trying to form the words describing emotion and experience because so many of these sensations are best described between words, or are omitted from language completely.
Regardless from the causation of my agreeability, I’d like to discuss its breaking point.
I’ve always been “nice”, the friends and teachers that I had growing up would describe me as a gentle giant. At six feet four inches tall, I was always a head above everyone else, yet quickest to bury it in the sand. I wasn’t just nice; I was nice at the expense of myself. Other students in my class caught on fairly quickly how much of an asset to them I could be to them. Whenever a teacher would issue an assignment or group project being tossed around like the hottest commodity (potato) in town. Every single day of 7th-grade science class the kid sitting next to me would copy the entirety of our homework from me that was due for the day, then he would hand it off like a plagiarized baton to his cronies.
I felt unable to fight back, like anger just didn’t exist inside of me. Back then I had a very low opinion of myself, so I thought my only worth came from other individuals the parasitic benefit of my work. But I never felt angry, it never even registered that I was being taken advantage of.
The story I would like to share with you happened only a month ago. But, this story involves my family, namely Mama Wolfe and I would like to first preface it by saying thank you to her. Have you ever seen an animal try to come between a mother wolf and her cubs? That’s who she is. My mother is an incredibly ferocious woman when it comes to protecting my brother or myself. She fears for our safety not only from external forces but also from our own decision-making. Most of the time her guidance is appreciated, most of the time…
I had been away from my family for a few months at this point but was excited / apprehensive for them to join Anya and I for Christmas in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I was apprehensive because I planned on no longer hiding from them. I wasn’t going to minimize myself for the sake of keeping an argument at bay. I thought this pre-determined mindset was only going to translate to openly showing my tattoos / piercings, but as it turned out something else was brewing.
One evening my family (Anya included because that girl is family) discovered the glorious street food of Thailand courtesy of a food tour. Anya and I were in heaven, but my Dad kept muttering about the state of sanitation at these food stands. I mean SURE there was mysterious juice dripping into buckets off the carts. YEAH, that’s the largest rat I’ve ever seen scurrying under the tables. I KNOW the chef’s hands are filthy and he’s missing a finger. But you know what? I wasn’t going to ask any questions. Mostly because The. Food. Was. So. Delicious. Plus at this point, Anya and I thought of ourselves as seasoned pros with food in South East Asia so we were eager and willing to try anything. Then nothing exciting happened and we all went home. The end.
…until the following night.
Anya and I were so jazzed about this newfound smorgasbord of Thai tastings that we decided to go back to the same outdoor food market. We even had the same stewed pork because it was so GOD DAMN delicious. Satiated and satisfied beyond belief, we returned back to our hotel. A few hours later I knew something wasn’t right. I started to feel feverish, but I just hoped that I wasn’t getting sick and tried to fall asleep. As soon as I shut my eyes I bolted upright, ran to the bathroom and power washed that fuckin’ toilet with vomit.
For the sake of how gross the next part of the story is, I’d just like to issue a quick Rhubarb (my safe word for those of you that are new, Hi my names Wolfe how are you?)
For the next few hours, I proceeded to be squatted on the toilet with a bucket in my hands firing at both ends with such intensity that it sounded like a firing squad using fully automated water pistols. Too graphic? Sorry about it. Anyways, the thing that was really worrying me was my fever, I was shaking pretty uncontrollably and soaked with cold sweat. Anya had been struggling with insomnia so I really wanted her to get a good night’s rest, so my next best option was “MOM I’M DYING AND I NEED A DOCTOR.” Actually, it was way more pathetic than that, picture Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables, “help me…please.” I’m awaiting my grammy nom from the academy any day now.
So she grabbed some quick essentials, and I made sure I had my passport. We started walking down the hallway to the elevator when my mom said something to the extent of: “see this is what happens when you’re not careful, you’re smarter than this Wolfe.”
In this moment the levee broke, but I tried to contain myself…for as long as I could. The vomiting helped with that. You have to understand, a large portion of my anxiety comes from intrusive thoughts, which is the nature of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Travel has been the best therapy I have ever experienced, and I have worked INCREDIBLY hard to deprogram myself of those intrusive thoughts. The most common thought of an intrusive nature was: that food is going to make you sick.
This time last year the thoughts in my head weren’t intrusive, they were invasive. I ate at three restaurants and shopped at two grocery stores, ordering and buying the exact same things every time because I KNEW they weren’t going to make me sick. I ate a vegan diet because I convinced myself that eating meat or any animal product was going to make me either vomit or shit myself, or both.
That’s enough of a flashback, where was I?…Oh right, vomiting and shitting myself. My Mom never really knew this about me; she did absolutely nothing wrong because she didn’t know. Mom, I know you’re reading this, and stop beating yourself up, I SAID STOP IT, I wouldn’t be the person I am today without you and I love me…so…thank you.
We made it to the hospital in Chiang Mai at about two-thirty in the morning. I was filling out paperwork when my Mom turned to me to say something. I didn’t let her say it. I spoke yelled at her in a way I had never yelled at anyone before. I am still embarrassed by the way in which I spoke to her, not necessarily by what I said. But, there was such venom in my voice, and it actually scared me.
That night I discovered anger as an emotion that I was capable of experiencing towards another person. Unfortunately, I did not know how to process these newfound feelings so I spent the next month irritable, irrational, and angry. I hated feeling this way, I felt crazed and jaded in every new experience. The majority of these feelings were concentrated and amplified in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Siem Reap is a beautiful town with a pleasant culture and home to the most insane and intricate temples. But I found myself incapable of enjoying myself most of the time.
It was also impossible to get a good night of sleep in our apartment. It was blazing hot, and if you forgot to spray yourself / sheets down with deet you’d be assaulted by mosquitos, but one unfailing thing was the construction that started every morning at 6:30. Sleeping like shit was not helping by any means, but it was an easy target to blame these feelings on. It may have been exacerbating the issue, but it wasn’t the sole cause by any means. Twenty-three years of anger was filtering out of me, and I just needed to purge. Sorry, Anya…thank you for putting up with my shit.
After some serious meditation and letting myself just feel my anger, I realized how truly beneficial anger is. Sure, sometimes it may be irrational, but I feel so much stronger as a person and so much more capable of protecting myself. The meditations not only showed me how useful anger can be (when expressed and purged and not bottled up), but they showed me how wrong I was to be denying myself, and others, to this part of me.
For example, in previous relationships, I wouldn’t be happy about something, but rather than expressing my feelings I chose to bottle everything up. The men that I dated along the way never thought anything was wrong, in fact, they probably thought we had the perfect relationship until I was overcome by my internal strife and ended things, successfully blind-siding them and being totally emotionally immature and a romantic fuckup. Sorry, I really am.
It’s okay to feel irrational. It’s okay to feel crazy. Emotions are valid simply by feeling them. I probably trust emotions more than I trust memories. Upon the discovery of the anger inside of me, I wanted to turn my back on it, for it to go away. Unfortunately, though, I realized that by trying to make it go away I was simply shoving it deeper into my psyche, so instead, I tried to listen to it. This IS a part of me, and even though I have always thought of myself as such a patient and kind person, I now understand the benefit of anger. Anger has made me a more well-rounded and emotionally mature person, plus I’ve begun to stand up for myself, and I feel so much larger.
Much love & many adventures,