In The Heat of the Moment

I first heard that quote (okay, I first read that quote) a couple of months ago. It was recited by Jaime Lee Curtis in an anti-bullying ad. Evidently, that phrase has been around longer than Keith Richards (just how old is that guy?) but I’d never heard it.

I immediately nodded in understanding. It was like a lifelong puzzle had suddenly been solved. Everything surprisingly made sense. It was like a half-blind man put on his first pair of glasses. A fuzzy picture came into focus. You get the hint, I think. Hurt people do hurt other people.

I thought back to all of the times I, in my pain, hurt others. I have a quick tongue, and when my temper is fully ablaze, vitriolic words can come spewing forth from my rancid maw like scalding water from Old Faithful. I’ve said some heinous things in legendary fits of rage, and I regret every syllable.

In turn, I realize that those who have said horrible things about me (or to me) have done so because they were hurt. I didn’t purposely hurt those folks, but did so all the same. I’ve been labeled abusive, a cheater, an asshole, a chauvinist, etc. Frankly, I will admit to sometimes being an asshole. I do have a mild mood disorder, after all. I can’t always help it.

When I left my first wife, her anger exploded like Fat Man over Nagasaki. I was assaulted nearly every time I dropped off the twins at her house. Most of the time it was simply a torrential downpour of vicious words. Other times, there was kicking and punching involved (not by me). Occasionally, it was done in front of my children. It was always done in the front yard of her house, in full view of any neighbor that may have been outside. Why none of her neighbors ever called the police on her I’ll never know. Come to think of it, I don’t know why I never called the police.

The cause of her rage was simple: I had left her and she wanted me to come home. She was in pain. For the life of me I could never figure out her line of thinking. How exactly did she plan to convince me to come home by cussing me, accusing me of adultery, accusing me of doing nefarious things to her daughter, and physically assaulting me? If anything, her rage only confirmed that I had made the correct choice.

But then, years later, fate put me in that very same pair of shoes.

My second wife left me. It was my turn to hurt. My turn to rage. My turn to loose an anger storm upon an undeserving soul. To my credit (so to speak), I didn’t do anything nearly as heinous as had been done to me in the past, but I did say some shameful, pathetic things in my rage. One day I got an email from her: “Don’t you remember (your first wife) doing this to you?”

I did. And the shock of that realization was like stepping into a cold shower. I was treating my wife the same way my ex-wife had treated me. The day I realized that was one of the lowest days of my life. I had become that which I loathed.

Two things then happened. I went to a doctor and dragged every…fucking…skeleton out of my closet. He asked a few questions, nodded at the appropriate times, and then took out his magic prescription pad and wrote “mood stabilizer” on it. And it has helped immensely. I have much better control of my emotions since I began taking that medicine. The second was that I became cognizant of my word choice if/when I become upset. I make sure to over think things before I say them. I don’t want to say things in anger that I can never take back.

You see, most people assume that malicious things said in a fit of rage is simply the truth being unsheathed; like a shield that protects your true feelings just disappears when you’re angry. The truth is far more horrifying. When I was angry, I didn’t speak the truth. I purposely said things with the sole intention of hurting the recipient of my words. I wanted the person who had hurt me to be hurt in turn. I wanted the other to feel the pain I felt. I wanted karma’s hand to be dealt, and I wanted to be the dealer. There is one thing I said in a fit of rage once long ago that still burns me with shame when I think about it. I’ve thought many times of sharing that story here, but I’m too embarrassed, and I’ve shared some pretty embarrassing things about myself on this here blog.

What many people fail to realize is that words have power, and you should be careful how you wield them. For the longest time I was of a mind that words are merely that: words. But I have since been the victim of words forged as weapons. I have also wielded words as weapons and bore witness to the pain they caused. I’m not at all proud of it, but I can at least say that I’ve recognized it and changed my ways.

Please, be careful with your words. They might not mean much to you, but they may mean everything to another. Use them wisely.

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About Twindaddy (330 Articles)
Sometimes funny. Sometimes serious. Always genuine.

40 Comments on In The Heat of the Moment

  1. That last paragraph is perfect. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent lessons and advice. When I’m angry, I try to ask myself three questions before I unleash my barbed tongue:
    1. Does it need to be said?
    2. Does it need to be said *right now*?
    3. Does it need to be said right now *by me*?
    It helps keep myself in check most of the time.

    Like

  3. What a fantastically written raw post, Scott. I know I am guilty of hurting others just to hurt them, plain and simple. I admire your ability to think before speaking and for being cognizant of the effect your words may have on others. 🙂

    Like

  4. Really good, thoughtful post, TD. And spot on.

    Years ago, after a particularly hateful thing one of my sisters said to me, I decided that I needed to be able to separate things said in anger from things just said. It has helped me immensely with my ability to forgive (but not forget — there is no point in that, I believe). Because sometimes, everybody is an asshole. Everybody lashes out from time to time. It’s helpful to know how to keep enough distance…

    Liked by 1 person

    • It scary, sometimes, what a human will do when he/she is in pain. We all have our moments when we lose control, but we still need to be mindful of what we do in those moments.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I hear you, man. Thank you for saying this, we all need a reminder of the power we bear in just our words.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I learned from a young age how words could be wielded as weapons, and it didn’t take long for me to learn how to use them back; how to fight with them and enjoy hurting…to enjoy taking my anger out on others and using words with the most power I could muster to bring them low.

    It took a long time for me to un-learn that behaviour, and in truth, I still have that pattern in me, and sometimes it surfaces. It’s shameful.

    You’re right, you’re right…hurt people hurt people, but really, it’s no excuse.

    Thanks for this. I need to keep a better eye on my tongue.

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  7. Let’s just say it all together: words suck. 🙂
    That’s why I like numbers. You can’t insult somebody with numbers.

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  8. There are times when it is very difficult to think first and speak later, but I think most of us learn from our mistakes. I’m glad that you’re still learning and moving on, and being a good example to your boys. I’m doing my best too – sometimes just recognising that keeping my mouth shut and walking away has probably saved me more than arguing back.

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  9. You have an anger problem? I can have your member club card in the mail in 24 hours. I just need your credit card number and bank account number for my Nigerian friend who handles these accounts.

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  10. I’m glad the word helped put things in perspective for you, but I find “hurt people hurt people” to be too simplistic and all encompassing. Not all hurt people hurt people and not all people who cause hurt have been hurt themselves. Just sayin’

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Just yes. When my ex left to find himself and pursue his ‘dreams’ I was desperately hurt. It wasn’t the first time, so I wasn’t as desperately hurt though, I was in fact expecting it and had opened the door. Words hurt, I made it a point no matter what he said to me I would not reciprocate. I didn’t. I said one thing as I pursued my divorce while he thought he was on marriage vacation (again), “I hope you find happiness, I hope you find joy, I want only the best for you”. Then I served him with divorce papers, he wasn’t expecting those. He got angrier. I just continued to repeat my mantra to him, no matter how ugly it got and no matter what I thought.

    You are so right. Words hurt, sometimes terribly. Your last paragraph was perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This is the second article I’ve read today on the power of words. You said it, Scott. What a great reminder. I’m sorry that I’ve been away for so long. Hope you and yours are all doing well. xo

    Like

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