This is a difficult blog to write, because it’s honest, uncomfortable and true. But maybe, by exposing myself in public (not in that way; the judge was very clear about that not being a good thing), I can at least shame myself – and maybe it will help.
You’d be forgiven for thinking, reading my blogs, I’m an amiable, laid-back, happy-go-lucky sort of chap, the sort of man who drinks a lot of tea and is habitually cruel to pot plants. That’s because I write the blog and it’s a nice image to project.
But it’s not true, not all of the time.
Ctrl + P
Printers often set it off, of all things. Printers have one job – to print things. I know it’s a complicated task; squirting ink on to a bit of paper and moving paper around.
A car has a fairly complicated task, as does a television, haematology analyser and set of speakers, yet none of them have quite the rage-inducing ability to poke my soul where it hurts like printers.
I went through a phase of having printers that lasted no longer than three months before they failed to squirt ink on to the paper in the way I wanted. One lasted just one day past its month-long warranty.
Printers drive me crazy. By crazy, I mean angry. Not just angry; I mean incandescent, screaming and howling with rage. There’s a moment, when a printer makes noises I’m pretty sure it shouldn’t be making – usually before it splurges out 15 pages of garbled, half-printed gibberish, using up half the ink (which is inexplicably more expensive per millilitre than champagne or human blood) I spent 20 minutes trying to load into the bloody thing, despite the fact I have done my best to tell it to stop doing so – where I can feel myself start to snap.
Fury and frustration
It might sound funny, but isn’t. I lose control in a far from funny way. My wife once recorded me screaming at a printer, to show me how it looked from the outside. What it looks like is a man far from the sort of person I want to be.
I am the printer’s master. I want it to do something. And when it doesn’t, I get frustrated and angry. Except it isn’t just printers.
Just like with my pets…
That’s a hard sentence to write for a vet and vegetarian passionate about animal welfare, but it’s true.
It’s the same sort of scenario as the printers; I want them to do something, but they don’t. So I get annoyed, but the less they do the thing I want them to, the more annoyed I get. It seems to feed off itself until I reach a point where what they do doesn’t matter any more because the rage has reached a horrible point, making me loathe myself the second it has abated.
It’s a throbbing, physical need to scream, shout, yell… I try to resist, but I am not very good at it.
Not my finest moment
It happened most recently on a walk in a country lane with my faithful lurcher, Willow. I pulled her into the side of the road to move away from a car, but she wouldn’t put her bum in because she didn’t quite understand the whole of her needed to be in.
I pulled her in a little too quickly, because I was worried the car would knock her, and she yelped (she, like many lurchers, is not very brave).
The yelping annoyed me. I was trying to help her; didn’t she know that? I didn’t want her to get hit by the car.
The car drove past and I held Willow close, quietly annoyed. I let her go, and she moved away from me quickly. Another car appeared almost immediately, so I called Willow’s name. She looked at me, but didn’t come; she could sense I was frustrated. I went to her, and she yelped again as I grabbed her collar. The anger fed off the yelping. Stupid dog! Just listen to me, I know better than you!
I pulled her close to me as the car approached. She was trembling. That got me more annoyed. The feeling grew.
Walk of shame
We walked home in silence. I was still annoyed, but, as we walked, the anger slunk away and left me with nothing but guilt, shame and self-loathing. By the time I was home, I felt guilty enough to grab treat after treat to feed and cuddle her, and tell her I was sorry. She forgave me; I didn’t deserve it, but it’s what dogs do.
Strangely, this has never happened at work. I never feel anger or frustration dealing with other people’s pets as a vet. I only feel empathy for their pain and understand when they try to bite, scratch or escape.
Is it because I feel more professional? Because I expect it from them? Maybe it’s because other people are around, so I dare not “lose it”. But, even when working with animals on call, I’ve never felt anything like the feeling my pets drive me to sometimes.
Why am I writing this? Because I’m ashamed and it has to stop. The feeling, when it starts, is hard to resist. It makes you want to get angry (I say “it” because that makes me able to pretend it’s not part of me).
I don’t know if any of you have felt like this, but I am going to try very hard to stop it happening again. I’m going to watch Belly Breathe (a wonderful YouTube video from Sesame Street) and try to sing it, while remembering this blog, when that awful feeling tries to take over again.
In the meantime, I’m sorry I’m not the person I appeared. I am trying to change.
It’s all I can do.