Trails, The Black Album, and a Breakthrough

Photo by Jakub Kriz on Unsplash

Have you ever tried to avoid noise in your house in the mornings? I’m usually the first one awake in our house, so I try to keep the noise to a minimum as I start my day. Whether it’s grinding coffee, closing cupboards, working out, or cleaning up, I put a lot of effort into not waking anyone else up. Sometimes I feel like this is how I handle anger in my life, only I didn’t realize it was anger that I was keeping at bay until recently.

There have been some mental struggles in my life over the past few years, to say the least, and I have found myself seeking a lot of calming practices in an attempt to calm the mind. Lo-fi hip hop has been a consistent music selection in our house, as well as reading, meditation, and prayer; yet amid all of these calming environments, I still found angst rising inside of me. In that search for peace, I continued to quietly close the cupboards in my life to search for calm in my mind.

California to Arizona

Photo by Robert Murray on Unsplash

As a teenager, I went through a lot of big changes in my life, and not just a cracking voice or new body hair. We moved from California to Arizona during my 7th-grade year, followed by my parent’s divorce my sophomore year. Those changes were unexpected, yet they have had very tangible consequences. I battled crippling shyness and timidness at times, likely from already being a timid soul in the first place. That shyness had been breaking down little by little over the first 12 years of my life, and the 7th-grade move swept my legs out of under me.

I had become comfortable with my peers, school, city, friends, and the like in California. It was becoming easier to speak up in groups, try new things, and move about in freedom. When I moved to Arizona, I let fear take over; fear of rejection, fear of the unknown, and fear of the new environment. It took some time to regain that confidence, and the people I met in Arizona helped that transition. Though I adapted, I felt resentment that we had to leave our previous life behind.

The years following that transition were riddled with the slow collapse of my parent’s relationship, which came along with years of side effects and emotional trauma for our whole family. I continued to look for belonging, and I finally found a tribe if you will, and by the end of my sophomore year, I began to bloom and understand who I was.

There was a lot of anger in those teen years, mainly through high school, though I battled it constantly with friends, music, church, and prayer. One of my mentors at that time warned that there was a lot of anger buried inside and that it may rear its head at some point. To this day, 20 years later, we are dealing with that reality.

The Sleeping Beast

Photo from Google search

Through recent counseling, it was mentioned that the cause for much of the depression, confusion, or sadness in my mind could actually be anger in disguise. When my wife and I heard that, it rang with truth. If anger was the beast we were keeping at bay, then all of the lo-fi hip-hop in the world could only cause it to rest for so long until it needed to break free.

The anger inside had created a filter for my reality, and it gave birth to resentment, regret, and envy; and those are destroyers of joy and peace. My days were battles against these destroyers, and all the while my identity was slipping away. I wanted the freedom to think with clarity, have confidence, create, and live beyond my mind.

I needed to take action in combination with seeking peace to make progress. First, fight off the recurring thoughts that had made their home in mind and take back ownership of my identity. Second, I had to seek connection instead of just thinking about wanting it; hopefully, that makes sense. Third, I had to continue to physically exert the energy built up from that anger.

I had become a fervent trail runner over the past 10 years, and I believe the presence of that activity in my life was a lifesaver that kept me hanging on during the darkest times. So I decided on this day of the realization of anger in disguise to hit the trails and have it out with myself.

Sméagol and Metallica

Photo from Google search

There is a scene in Peter Jackson’s movie The Two Towers where the character Sméagol has a battle with his other self, Gollum. In this exchange his more joyful self, Sméagol, battles with his hateful self, Gollum. “Go away, and never come back!”, Sméagol yells. At that moment he hears no response from Gollum, instead, he finds himself filled with joy and a sense of freedom.

When I hit the trails that day, I was ready to have it out with myself and confront the anger in my life. I ran hard, and I put on Metallica’s Black Album to create the environment for being angry, and in that environment, the anger was identified. 

Once that previously disguised emotion was brought out of the darkness into the light, I was able to finally express where a lot of that anger was coming from, and in that expression, the anger began to fade. What I found underneath was a well of the true self and a glimpse of my true reality. That reality provides the space to live beyond my inner struggles and see the world taking place all around me.

Moving Forward

The intentional focus on dealing with the anger that day opened my mind and revealed that I must not only seek to calm the beast of anger but also provide an environment to let it out. Relief from my vices fades when I begin to look beyond myself.

 Hope is rising, and the possibilities that lie within that hope are valuable and good. I hope that this article gives you guidance, insight, a laugh, or at least the knowledge that you are not alone in this life or your struggles. We are all part of the story taking place.

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