Updated: February 17, 2012
Every once and a while, I will publish a guest post from Sailors or Future Sailors who like to write and have their works put out for all to see.
Today, I would like to introduce ETSA Slebodnik with his first essay, “Anger: Us and Them.”
“Anger: Us and Them”
ETSA Slebodnik, D.V. USN
Everyday it creeps into our minds like a parasite. It finds a way in, finds a corner and slowly spreads. Taking away from our family, our job, and our own joy. Replacing all the goods things in life with hate, resentment, pain, and regret. This parasite that lives off of our own misery is “Anger.”
Pick your poison on how you get it. Some punk in your class, losing the promotion you bust your guts for, your own cowardice. Makes no difference how it gets in you, the difference is what you do with it. There are two roads anger can take you, either destructive or constructive.
Like a parasite, it feeds. When you first feel it, you think about the stressor. Soon after is the thought of payback, but you contain yourself when you think of the consequences. When you see that wrong go unanswered then comes the feeling of helplessness and that is when anger really makes itself at home.
As the anger lingers, it fills like a cup under a faucet until you do something about it and the act of relief washes the pain away. What if relief came from exercising or talking? What if it were taking a shot or a needle? Picking a fight or bullying somebody you never met?
Basic principle is that everything has a cause and effect. A stressor causes your anger and the effect disolves it. What must be accepted is that you’ll be turning to that effect for the rest of your life along with the consequences.
Starting with the destructive, suffice it to say it is road most common in dealing with anger. I say the most common because the anger takes a physical form and feeds off of others. Imagine you’re sitting at the pub on base after getting masted. The beer can’t shake the CO’s words from your head, nor do the shots return your confidence. From across the room you see a guy sitting alone.
You stumble into him to get a reaction and he disimisses without care, you think he’s weak. You begin to yell at thinking of your CO and feel the anger build. The Stranger raises his hands not wanting trouble, he fears you as you yank him from his chair. Control is returning to you once again.
You bring back your fist ready to unload on this random victim and next is the sound of a bottle shattering against you head. Blood runs down your cheek and your vision fades. The next morning you wake up in the base jail with a bandage covering half your face and asking yourself how you ended up there.
Now the constructive; starting over after your mast with that same loss of control and that same parasite growing, difference this time you go to the gym and tie on some gloves to unload on the bag. Not enough though, you keep thinking about the punishment coming. You return to your barracks where your shipmates offer a slice of pepperoni. Talking with your pals about the how and why, you realize that you may not like the idea of restriction but it’s not the end of your world.
Returning to your room, the last weight on your mind are those effected by your action that put you before the CO in the first place. Sitting at your desk staring a blank laptop screen, you open your email and type out your remorse, owning up to your mistakes and apologizing for them. The next morning you wake up in your rack and go to the head to shave. You feel a little more refreshed, calmer, and accepting. You can still look at yourself in the mirror with dignity and say, “I’m still a U.S. Navy Sailor.”