rage (also hitting people)

February 11, 2015

one of my friends hits people for fun, three days out of every week, at a place where people teach you to hit people with parts of your body for fun and also maybe defense. she’s offered to take me.

I like the idea of being able to hit people.

I’ve been wanting to fight since I was little. my parents disagreed. they probably thought I was violent enough, particularly since one of their anecdotes of me as a baby involves me full on growling (this related in horrified tones because babies apparently don’t ever demonstrate aggression or something), but growing up I saw my friends doing taekwondo and wondered, in between the piano and Chinese classes and swimming lessons, why I couldn’t do that instead. or ballet. or gymnastics. or something that involved deliberate control of my body. I’m only now realising how much that might’ve helped, during that instinctual retreat into myself where I lost any sense of what my body was and became a brain in a jar. a flesh jar.


I have dreams, sometimes, where I’m trying really hard to punch someone and I can’t. my punch doesn’t connect, my fist lurches feebly through dream-space, and in my dream I am incandescently furious at being so helpless. at being so horribly ineffectual at protecting myself. that sucks.

I also have dreams where I wake up because I’ve punched the wall really damn hard, and my hand hurts and rage is consuming my body, but it’s a triumphant rage because I punched that fucker, whoever they happened to be. that sucks much less.


most of my childhood instincts were physical. My younger brother accordingly developed the art of the verbal taunt in ways I never did, particularly when I began to understand the negative effect words had on me and decided never to use them like weapons. it meant, though, that childhood fights with my brother sometimes ended up with him physically hurt. I kicked him in the stomach once, an instinctive reaction to his moving into my space, to being intimidated.

it wasn’t okay. I was five, or seven, but he was littler than me, so I was taught early how not to use my body in response. how not to fight. I wish now, though, that my parents had taught me not just when it was wrong to fight, but when it was right.


now, as an adult woman with what are basically complex trauma and captivity survival mechanisms hardwired into me, I freeze. I go still, I abandon my body, I use my words, I placate, I defuse, I distract. while these have their place, these are all very submissive, stereotypically ‘female’ coded things to do, and none of them are good for when you are boiling over with rage, or shaking with fear, or when you can feel anger burning through your muscles and eating at your lungs like acid. none of those help. there are days when I’m so angry with the universe or myself, with casually sexist classmates or stories of sexism in general that I can’t sleep because of the suppressed rage, when I twitch in bed with the suppressed physical need to break something. there are days I’m so restless that nothing soothes and nothing can get me to stability again. there are days where I curl my hands around two invisible knives, a mental defense mechanism to keep me safe. and there are so many things about anxiety and depression that involve being detached from one’s body. one of the best things I discovered while taking dance lessons, several years ago, was that dancing put me back into my body.

I’d like to feel efficient. capable. at home in my skin, and capable of disembowelling somebody if necessary. I’d like to not be physically afraid of somebody bigger than me. I’ve felt that before, and I would like to know how it feels to have hardwired into your body the ways to react to that, to take advantage of that size and weight differential, to come back from that. to never be trapped, not physically. to have the means to survive.


I think I might like fighting. I mean, you never know until you try, and I’ll let you know once I do try, but I think I’m not fazed by pain. from what I’ve seen, my body takes it, adjusts to it. I don’t bruise easily, either. and for such a sedentary person, there’s a certain aspect of me that is entirely unafraid of getting stuck into a physical activity, honed by years of theatre where the prevailing atmosphere is to throw yourself into whatever you’re given without holding back, an attitude which tends to lead to a lot of sweat, aching muscles, increased flexibility, physical unashamedness and significant intimacy with the floor and also maybe your classmates’ limbs.

I will also admit to being in possession of the desire to gleefully boot someone in the nadgers and think it delightful fun. there’s a streak of cheerful brutality in me alongside a great big void of caring, and both are aspects of my personality which I try to cushion with carefully cultivated empathy and social conditioning. Both are there nonetheless, persisting underneath the learned patience. Social conditioning holds in most situations, but other times- well, the field in which I grow my fucks is barren, my douche-meter is ringing and I am done with tolerance.

In those circumstances, I very, very much want to stab people in both eyesockets and then blitz them off the face of the universe and never have to deal with them again, or possibly just rage quit existence. However, because I am an adult human and have learned to use my words, I tell the person they are being a dick in no uncertain terms, and then tell them why (for example, that I’ve already indicated several times that I don’t appreciate the incredibly sexist undercurrent of the jokes they make and they need to stop now, and that no, it is not okay to bait the feminist. I’m just waiting to see this guy next to see if I need to repeat the message more clearly). And then I either avoid that person completely so I don’t feel like stabbing them every time I see them, or- no, really, that’s it. I’d still like to blitz them off the face of the universe, though. Look. I’m still furious (then again, I was reading a discussion about some of the problem areas in Fifty Shades of Unsafe Sexual Practices and Emotional Abuse this morning, which could contribute to the simmering feeling of rage currently at a stockpot-low in my lungs).

Nonetheless. Demonstrable self-control, yes? Learning to hurt people and defend myself doesn’t mean I’m going to use those skills in conversation, regardless of my desire to. I am perfectly capable of using words to communicate. Simply for my own private reassurance, however, it would be nice to know that if somebody continues to be a dick, I have the ability to remove theirs.


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