By Paula S. Robin
My friends call me Temper. You can call me Bad, for short. No, not badass, hush now. People don’t know my cover. They haven’t figured it out. Watch yourself, I’ll blow it up, and you’ll never know where I came from. Don’t take that attitude with me. I’ll shut down the rational part of your brain and take you hostage in a flash. You can run and hide while I attack and deny. It’s a game, right? See, that’s the thing. It means everything to you; it’s just an out for me. Let it run its course. This is your strategy, right? I’m on autopilot, baby, autopilot. When anything doesn’t go my way, and my blood starts to boil, it’s on automatic for me to go off. You can find better ways to handle me, HA. Don’t forget those emotional wounds. Oh, will they heal? Right, you’re a tough guy, wrong again. We both know you are nothing without me. Who am I? Who are you? J. Bad Temper, this is my name. The J, you want to know what the J stands for? Justa, Justa Bad Temper, that’s my name. Do not tell me to zip it up or bottle it up. I will erupt like a volcano, burning everyone and everything down in my path. Yeah, you thought you had me under control, compartmentalizing me underneath suppression. You gave me the space to become this mountain of fury, ready to explode and erupt, vomiting my harmful, self-defeated behaviors and drown everything in my path. You cry out for me to fight your battles, saying, “Let’s go Justa, provoke me, I dare you.” It’s done.
Just is just a dirty little four-letter word, aren’t you? Isn’t it? Maybe it’s just me? I am going to stand toe to toe, cheek to cheek with you, Just. Come to my Bad Temper, come here, stay on the tip of my tongue, like a weapon, or a diffuser, a silencer. Yeah, I like that, a silencer. Pathetic, this is just what you are, pathetic. Commanding, who are you commanding with your tiny pretentious self, Justa? You think you stand for moral and ethical fairness, nope, not having it. I so dislike you being used anywhere and or anytime as the show stopper. I almost dislike you as much as – If. When the two of you come in together, Just If or If Just, you aren’t trouble. You are not a fact. Stop demanding, you both cause doubt. You make people doubters. Didn’t mean to make you cry. I have to leave you behind. Just keep going, keep walking. You deserve nothing. Oh, now you don’t want to sound demeaning? You little chameleon, just change what you mean anytime and anywhere you pass over the tongue and through the lips. Sounds like going to grandma’s house, over the hills, and through the woods. Trust me, Justa started there, and bad temper was my grandma’s last name.
Justa, you are now hidden in the name, Just a bad temper, thats all you are. Call me Bad, thank you. Yes, you were first, now you are second when you feel second best, you are just that. I didn’t hold you back enough, misusing you for the little things I should have said and or done my Bad self. Now, you will want to tune in to this, reader. I was wondering when you’d chime in. You know the little things you should have said and done, instead of keeping just in your thoughts and on your mind, at the edge of your mouth? Don’t leave me standing out here alone. Are you just a reader? Am I just a writer? The gray area between being humble or humiliated is just. Why am I so intense? In the beginning, was the word. It wasn’t just a word. It isn’t, in the beginning, the word was just. Why aren’t you intensely feeling what I feel? I got miles of trouble, but Just and or If, ain’t going to be two of them. Reader, I love you more than words can say. If you can just look in my eyes, we will be alright, promise me. Just leave. See, didn’t you almost feel like an apology was coming? Coming between us?
Between you and me, I know you want me to apologize, look weak? I will not do it; I will not surrender, ever. You can not control me by your reactions. This is exactly how we get here (or are we talking about her?) every time. You try to control your reactions. Hello, this is your anger talking to you. Didn’t you recognize the tension in your body? That tightness is me, a part of you. Remember me. Sit down and catch your breath for me. I am about to ignore your feelings. This always triggers you, doesn’t it? I am too significant to be dismissed. Look in the mirror, see that red hot face, feel that pressure in your neck, that’s me. Your idea of how to control your temper was to create a place between our trigger and your reaction, so cute. What did you say to me? You are going to therapy? You are considering ways you can act and speak that best serves you? Who are you? You don’t need me anymore? I’ll bite, like Mike Tyson. Don’t tell yourself what is best for you. If you start that again, I will pull out the big guns. Now go sit your little bad self in the self-help section for a minute. Time out, let me count, 1,2,3…pinned you again.
My name is J. Bad Temper. I live in you. I come out when you interact with others, and you don’t accept responsibility. You know when you are too prideful to be accountable for your part of anything. It’s okay. It’s a family tradition. It’s easy because you don’t care about anything that doesn’t serve you. You jump to conclusions; you never commit yourself to changing how you think or act. You cant control your life. You don’t take power over your circumstances. Instead, you turn to your partner for life, bad temper. Hehe, you are going to move forward in a spirit of forgiveness and gratitude. Mercy! Wait a minute, let me talk to that selfish little bastard we both know you are at times. You know the tiny esteem, the low self-esteem that believes every bad experience in your childhood still defines you. Yeah, you, I am talking to you. Don’t pull yourself together; stay broken. Of course, it is your choice, don’t take that tone with me- you, you let me control you. Sit her beside me, let bad mood make you feel strong and invincible. I’m the granddaddy of bad moods.
Bad relationships don’t just happen, just like good relationships don’t just happen by accident. If you turn your back on your Bad Temper, how will you handle your anger, your selfishness, and let’s don’t leave out your brooding? I fulfill my part of our plan. Haven’t I been keeping you, and others in your life, from getting what you need or want? Why are you going all ballistic, being mindful? Let’s just calm down. You, we are talking about you, you are going to start identifying problems and accept responsibility, really, wow? You know you usually let me handle the problems. I make them, and everyone go away for you. Quiet and isolated, just the way we like it, remember? I don’t accept any fault. Don’t point your finger at me. I prefer the middle one if you do. I am not to blame. You are. See, you can’t do this alone. You need me. Don’t make me use your own behavior against you. I always get away with bullying because you don’t want to confront or hold anyone (much less little sad defeated you) accountable. You need to acknowledge your behavior as abuse. Bad Temper is just a nickname for abuse. Come on, if you look like a duck, walk like a duck, and you quacking, you are an abuser. Little wine with your Quakers? Ha.
We having fun yet? Buckle up, badass. Far too long, we have gotten away with our little bad temper. This so-called bad temper with all of your frustration, bullying, and emotions, destroying emotional baggage, chalking it up to childhood experiences. Behaviors saying like, “boys will be boys,” or “she is just a bitch,” and my favorite, “that’s just how I am.” The gray area between being humble or humiliated is Just. I said it already, cease resistance. Just stop. Just Leave. Literally Just is an excuse, isn’t it? This is what Just does. It makes us believe it’s an apology, a command, an exact, an if, a friend, then it stands beside or in-between and tears us all down. You can’t prove “Just” anything to me. I’m just a writer. She is just a mother. We would never say she is just a CEO? Maybe we would? Okay, we would never say he is just a CEO. Let’s be politically correct, or scientifically, not sure of my angel yet. We do say, “she is just a teacher.” Both mothers and CEO’s have dreams and visions. Both create and educate, guide and teach. Both are “Just” as important as the other. Are they, though? It becomes natural for us just to think we know everything. I think deeply, and probably more than one ought to think.
Stop monitoring me with self-awareness. Spiraling is how we roll. I lead, you follow, head down but up. Oh, you want to understand me. How sweet, you want to understand your own anger! As if I am not coming from you. Great way to continue reflecting blame. Do you ever think before you speak? You love the heat of the moment, and I support that. I don’t just happen for no reason. Any reason will do for you. You don’t understand Mercy. Remember the game we played as kids? We took each other’s hands and tried to bring the other person to their knees, unless they yelled out Mercy. Your brothers took it to another level, yelling, “who is your daddy!?” You then yelled mercy loud and clear. Mercy, a hands on game, where the tides turn quickly, and it’s in one’s power to punish and hurt you. Never do you show compassion or forgiveness, or weakness in this game. If you do, you die. Not a physical death. Oh, it hurts physically, but emotionally, your spirit crumbles. Instead of feeling this humiliation, you pulled out the show stopper: anger. When anger wasn’t big enough for her britches, the rage was inflicted. You got a license for that? You must be at least certified in abusive anger, verbal? No, okay then, let me go and JUST go back to begging on your knees.
I’ll skip anger and go to rage; at that point, it isn’t in your control. You sorely regret a lot of things during these bouts, but you never change. You’ve buried me, hidden me, and used me. I siphon all the intelligence from you. You don’t have to think or deal with anything. No one wants to address you or attempts to control me. When you operate from a deficit like me, you only react on impulse. Check your pulse. Are you living? Are you beating to your own drum? Let me keep siphoning all reason from that big little empty pretty head of yours. I dominate everything. You aren’t even functioning anymore. No one is talking about functioning at your best, you aren’t functioning anymore, period. You lose control, I dominate. I love how I made you feel superior. The joke is you think you look powerful. You can’t even make a choice for yourself. How are you anything? You are vulnerable and afraid. Move over vulnerability, substitute batter here. I will win this game for us, despite you. What do we have here? An excess of emotional pain, pitching 100 mph words at me? I can hit that. You are ill-equipped, and everyone knows it but you. Wouldn’t you rather turn to something addictive to ease the pain? Keep me like an ace in your back pocket for when you need to cheat and get ahead? Just a question, why so touchy?
Move over anger and rage; reckless is now driving. You want to take your foot off the gas now, don’t you? Nobody can afford reckless. It does give you the momentum to say the things you want to say. Don’t stand there beside me, all paralyzed and fearful, trying to pull off tough guy. Why don’t you voice your uncomfortable feelings and stand up for yourself? Productive anger, someone’s therapy is working. Instead of getting angry, you are going to talk about it, or accept it and ask for mercy. You might even give a little, too. How saintly of you. Wake me when you’re done trying all your old, ineffective methods, instead of changing your bad temper and behavior. If you just did that, I would dissolve. Therapist didn’t mention that, eh? Well, they do need return clients. If only you maintained perspective, saw the whole picture. Embrace me, anger, understand me for once, I am normal, expressing me is normal. You justify me to viciously attack. Stop denying yourself. It isn’t my fault you can’t communicate your needs. Learn how to talk instead of shutting down for once. Let’s understand our triggers and be prepared. Sometimes you just need to vent. Name-calling and four-letter word choices are so yesterday. Maybe educate yourself; you make us emotions bad.
We need a buffer. Temperance, voluntary self-restraint would be better than the white jacket you’re heading toward. Temperance will balance you better than the ledge you’re standing on. You don’t want to look like a *&%#@? *&%#@ is a five-letter word. You look and act like a duck. Better stop yourself. I said duck, Quakers with your wine? Quick before you quack up again. You are so negative. Together, let us defuse this explosive outburst, yes, I am talking about me. I am even tired of this hamster wheel, aren’t you yet? Here, put on this mask, rage is contagious. Hand me that guide on how to stop misunderstanding the intentions of other people in social situations. Most people are just like you. They are only thinking of their own wants and gains. They aren’t thinking about you. They didn’t take your parking spot. They see the empty spot and want it at all costs, you know, like you do. Like you, they are only looking for things that reinforce their benefits. Get in their way, and you will become the recipient of their fury. They will hit you with a confrontational challenge, you know, like you do. They think you are acting hostile, and are making the same assumptions and conclusions about you, recognize yourself yet?
Do I have to say it? I, Justa Bad Ass Temper, am Toxic. I belong in a program. Will it work? I don’t know. It will get me off the street and out of the parking lots. I guess it will work when you get tired of being filled with hostility and your stupidity. It is a vicious cycle. We do need to break me, together. Back off, you do need me. No, you really don’t. Here have a cup of coffee. Coffee is bad for you? Your little nasty, hostile heart is bad for you, honey, heading for premature death. This little cup of coffee has never hurt anyone. You hate coffee and my advice. Careful now – that’s my new sensitive feelings rug you’re walking all over with your dirty little feet. Hate fuels hate, and you’re snowballing on flames, princess. Oh, there he is, little cold shoulder. You are the silliest part of our anger. You are not an attractive lifestyle choice. Everyone hates isolation, so you thought shutting down was an answer. Bartender, hit me up with two shots of unbridled outburst to warm up my friend here. Emotional regulation sounds like a bowel movement, honestly, who doesn’t love a good one? Sure, anyone can be angry at everyone, all the time. Maybe baby steps. Today I will be angry at the right person, for the real reason, for the appropriate amount of time. Instead of imprisoning myself or anyone else, I will be on probation. Given another chance. What if I then just sent change? Looks like a life-inflicted sentence to me?
Thirty years later. Raise your glass, everyone! Here’s to, “If I just changed.” They were just a bad little temper that didn’t know when to quit.
This is so good. It captures what it feels like to have that inner rage.
This one really hits home. It’s very thought provoking. Fantastic job.
It was a tough one to write. I don’t struggle with it, I’m usually at the other end of this and it’s something to balance.