Thursday, June 9, 2011

Going Berserk

It’s like a blinding flash when all semblance of reason disappear in anger. The body moves in an unthinking gesture, driven by dark emotions. The episode ends in violence that one deeply regrets later on. Soon shouts are heard and the kids rush in trying to resolve the problem that had suddenly erupted in the night. One is ashamed by the lecture of these young men who berate you for going berserk. Apologies abound trying to bring everything back to normal but still emotions are high. One feels ashamed and gives endless apologies until everyone goes back to their rooms and a semblance of normalcy is achieved. How can this senseless disturbance occur? From the immediate aftermath one feels that one is not respected or insulted by the other and triggers an unfortunate episode. It’s the act of a family psychopath hidden in the layers of domesticity.

There is no excuse for these incidents but one is prone to these episodes like a recurring virus having counted 2 previous episodes in the long distant past. How does one go back to that dark place despite the conscious attempts to self control? Perhaps it’s the stress or lack of sleep driven by challenges at work. Or the constant thinking that is driven by reading too much or doing too much or desiring too much. One looks internally to discover that hidden flaw that triggers such senselessness. It’s looking into the dark night of the soul. The house now seems too small with no place to crawl into; disgusted at the event and the role that one played in it. Self awareness dictates that one examine the factors that led to it and try to prevent it. Truly shameful but one is shamefully glad that the kids came in to bring one back into normality before feeling disgusted in the end. How does one face them again?

Is this the sign of a dysfunctional family? Jonathan Franzen writes about family dysfunction in his books but in fact it’s the norm in most families. There is a rage that builds when one does not get what he wants. After all the credit card debt is exhausted or loans re-financed and spent that one faces himself again with what is left. It’s the struggle for a normal life by a modest income family. The only one with money is those rich folks and European royalty who have butlers and other staff working for their benefit. Ordinary people with 9-5 jobs (for those lucky few who still have work) like to be Donald Trump and desire bigger homes, 2nd or 3rd homes, more vacations, more things like boats or computers and end up in debt. Most families also have children who go to college and one needs to pay for these expenses too. It’s the normal demands of a middle class family that drive people berserk if one is not careful.

External factors don’t explain the problem. It’s not an excuse for domestic violence. It’s the internal reaction to these external pressures. In fact there is also stress created by one’s own behavior and desires. Self awareness regarding one’s reactions to stress is the key. When one is on the verge of going berserk, approaching the threshold of mindless rage, one needs to step away. Does it feed the wrong behavior in others that will continue to provoke senseless fury? Step back, relax and stop thinking. The general order of business is to control one’s desire, live a modest life and accept others as they are. The challenge is controlling the mind to have achievable needs. Perhaps it is the perceived slights that provoke one into mindless rage. It’s not an intellectual challenge but an emotional one. It’s not something that one can fix by sophisticated thought or analysis. It’s just controlling one’s temper which is an act of will and emotion.

In the end it’s the challenge to continue to live with shame and disgust. To drive home from work everyday and reconstruct the shambles of family life. One cannot crawl into a dark hole and escape one’s action. It’s a small house that one cannot flee from; to get drunk somewhere and forget the troubles. It’s an everyday task to humble one self and ask forgiveness from one’s family in order to make whole again what one had disrupted in momentary insanity. It’s a gut wrenching task to strive for normal daily conversation and strip away that night of remorse so that it won’t be a memory that would scar the children’s or spouse’s future. It never too late but one should be brave enough to accept mistakes and continue living in this difficult world. It’s the acceptance of one’s flaws and to have the family embrace again and emerge from the darkness that one had descended.

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