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Writing Game - Prompt 1 - Anger

My submission for The Writing Game, Prompt 1, Anger.

Angry Alcoholic Written By: Hegemone 6/23/11 8:58PM CST (Completion Time) Non-Fiction

Living with an alcoholic is not easy, as some of you may know. It’s what I’ve known all of my life though, and makes up a large part of why I am the way I am, whether I like it or not. In fact, it makes up a lot of my relationship with my father, who is an alcoholic and has been for all of my life. What makes it even worse is that he’s an angry alcoholic, which seems to tie us together as much as it drives us apart.

My father was not gifted with the best adolescence considering his father died when he was around the age of 12 or 13. As a result of it he struggles today to be able to face or feel any other emotion but anger. He identifies with anger in a way I’m only beginning to understand. It seems to me his only two emotions are anger and indifference most of the time. If he isn’t angry, he’s indifferent to everything until he can find something to be angry about.

I have learned that in reality this is because he is so desperately afraid to feel all the hurt, the sadness, the loneliness, and the emptiness that he might feel periodically as a result of facing things with a full array of emotions. I also wonder if he doesn’t fight happy feelings because he feels in a way he doesn’t deserve them because those who he loves most are no longer on this planet to experience them with. I’m not sure about that though, but it’s an idea.

I sympathize with him in a way. As I’ve grown up I’ve learned that I sometimes mistakenly handle things in the same way. My “go to� reaction is anger more and more often and this terrifies me, and shows me that I’m more like him then I want to admit. It’s another reason why I am so careful with consuming alcoholic drinks, because I never want to drink when I’m at all emotional so as not to become dependent on doing that any time I’m upset, as my dad does.

That in itself makes me angry at my father, because it puts me in awkward situations sometimes. I’m young and my friends like to get together and drink into the wee hours just to have fun. If I’m not in the right mood I have to decline, and either sit there being sober and harassed to just have a drink, or completely skip out on what I know could be a really fun time. My friends don’t all understand enough to get why I choose not to drink. Some of them think I’m simply being boring when I wish so desperately they would understand that’s not the case.

My dad’s alcoholism has affected me all of my life in ways that make me angry at him. One of the first, and most vivid, times I remember being angry at him in relation to his alcoholism had to do with shoe shopping. I had saved my allowance for weeks, and had even done tons of extra chores to make a little more money. I finally had saved enough money to buy my own pair of Adidas shoes. I didn’t have to have cheap, no-name brand shoes and I could fit in at school.

We set up a time to be up and ready to go to the shoe store and I went to bed feeling like it was Christmas while my dad stayed outside with his radio up, drinking beer. I bounded out of bed that morning, full of energy already, ate some breakfast and got ready to go. I was ready and my dad was still in bed. I tried waking him up, which resulted in mumbling and tossing and turning. I tried again three or four more times over the course of three hours. At this time my dad also was working second shift, so I knew soon we’d be out of time because he’d soon only have time to get up and get ready to go to work.

Out of desperation I tried one last time to wake him in time for us to go and it resulted in me getting screamed at and chased out of the room. I remember being terrified and feeling crushed at the same time. After that entire episode he still didn’t actually get up for the day, he went back to bed for another hour. I proceeded to go into my room and cry. He had let me down because he stayed up too late the night before drinking. I remember thinking that his beer was clearly more important than me, and after I was done crying I was so mad at him I couldn’t think straight.

My mom was still living with us, as it wouldn’t be for another few years before she left, and knew I was upset so she came to talk to me. That resulted in me getting more upset and I also remember screaming at her that I hated him and wished he’d just drink himself to death already. I have no clue if he heard me or not, but in hindsight, that was really a horrible thing to say. I was acting just like him though, and have done it time and again. Anger was the first emotion I jumped to when my grandmother died, hysterical anger, throwing things, screaming and finally running away for a few hours. Everyone else was grieving, and I was throwing a complete and utter tantrum as if it would have changed anything.

So, you see, because of this, I understand my dad a little better than others, and yet also it makes me distant from him by the sheer nature of the personality trait. It’s not a trait I’m necessarily proud to share, and hope that instead of becoming an angry alcoholic I can learn better ways to experience my emotions. I hope that instead of limiting myself to that emotion, I know that it’s OK to feel the other emotions. Maybe this awareness and hope is enough to make the difference.

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sean_renaud said over 3 years ago ...

Wow. I'll start by saying I don't feel 100% comfortable critiquing a glimpse into your soul. Overall your writing is outstanding. You do a great job of conveying your emotions and motivations. My biggest criticism of your writing here would be you have a habit of using extremely long sentences. Granted to an extent this is personal opinion on fact.

I remember thinking that his beer was clearly more important than me, and after I was done crying I was so mad at him I couldn’t think straight.

Why the comma instead of the period? Like this: I remember thinking that his beer was clearly more important than me. After I was done crying I was so mad at him I couldn’t think straight.

So, you see, because of this, I understand my dad a little better than others, and yet also it makes me distant from him by the sheer nature of the personality trait.

You're kind of just mumbling here. It's seems like you're trying to figure what you want to say here. If its an intentional flavor choice then by all means. To me it's kinda sloppy and you use a LOT of commas. Six on the first paragraph alone. Some of them completely unnecessary.

Everyone else was grieving, and I was throwing a complete and utter tantrum as if it would have changed anything.

This sentence would remain exactly the same if you took out that comma. Part of the reason I notice this is my friend (and to a much lesser extent myself) is a screen writer. So spend at least one weekend every other month doing table reads. Essentially it's as many people as it takes to not have people talking to themselves. When we're doing this I try to read exactly what was written because I have to assume that he wrote what he meant to write. He's like you, he likes his commas. He'll get annoyed sometimes because I'll read a charachter almost like they have a stutter and I'll point to the page. Commas mean you want the reader to pause for a beat. If you don't want me to read like William Shatner don't put comma there. What may help is read it outloud and remember that for a comma you're supposed to beat between the words. If you wouldn't pause there if you were speaking you probably shouldn't put the comma.

All around though it's a very good read and glimpse into your soul.

hegemone said over 3 years ago ...

Sean - Thank you, I have read through your comment, but don't have time to fully respond/ask questions, so I'll save a full reply for after work. Thank you though, your comments have given me motivation. :-)

withoutshade said over 3 years ago ...

Wow, talk about intimate. I'm not sure what to say right now...

hegemone said over 3 years ago ...

Sean - Thank you for the full critique. I had to give a bit of a smile when you mentioned the commas, as that's always been one of my vices, and I see I have fallen back to old ways, lol. For some time I was constantly reading things I wrote aloud to see if a pause should or shouldn't go there, or if it could just become two sentences. This round, I was not nearly so careful. Part of me just did it, and part of me, after having posted it thought 'I probably should have fixed that!' I figured I'd get an honest opinion for my writing as it comes naturally to me and see where I need to be sure to focus. I appreciate having it pointed out, and in different ways, such as where a sentence can be split into two, or where it is natural to have a comma if you can't split the sentence. I'll be more conscientious of it in the future.

In as far as feeling uncomfortable critiquing this sort of thing, I think that's why I put that it's non-fiction, so that it would be understood that it's not fiction. It's how it really happened in life so it would at least offer that much knowledge and allow readers to ask questions where I may not have been clear, but to know that I can't just simply make something else up. I did mention in the comment on my post that I am drawn to writing realistic fiction but was dabbling with writing a sort of history of my life with an alcoholic father and a bipolar mother. I'm thinking of doing so with the purpose to hopefully be able to call it a success.

I hope to allow potential readers experiencing the same thing to see it is possible to make it through it even when it's a struggle. I needed to put something along those lines out there to see what sort of reality there is for me writing something like that and doing it well enough to be worth reading. Oh, for the sentence that seemed like mumbling I was trying to portray/emphasize that point, that the same thing that draws us together pulls us apart. However, I'm sort of torn on needing that sentence, as I did mention that same concept in the first paragraph. With that said, would you agree that as a result of the mention in the first paragraph I could do away with the second mention?

WS - It is indeed, but it was also my choice to expose myself as such. A sort of experiment to see if I really want to go through with doing something like this. It draws a lot out of me. I sat staring into space multiple times while writing this, remembering things, feeling emotions all over again and just sort of marveling that it really even happened.

sean_renaud said over 3 years ago ...

With that said, would you agree that as a result of the mention in the first paragraph I could do away with the second mention?

You probably could but it seems to reinforce it and you'r talking about powerful emotions here. You could go either way honestly.

hegemone said over 3 years ago ...

Sean - True, thank you.

simplyconfused said over 3 years ago ...

wow. this was so powerful Hege, I'm sorry that I haven't been here lately I promise that I willl read everything I missed!!

hegemone said over 3 years ago ...

Simply - Do so as you get time, I'm sure you've been quite busy, graduate. :-)

starchini said over 3 years ago ...

Yupper Hege your a good writer, very smooth, same style as your blogs, great grammar...I gotta say though, it is easier to write non fiction. : ) . You can still write non-fiction, but turn it into a story format and make up some names. That way sean doesnt feel like and arse critiqueing "your soul", and you can get some practice in with a more unfamiliar format. I liked it though, interesting and easy read.

hegemone said over 3 years ago ...

Star - Thank you. I do write both fiction and non-fiction, but this first submission stemmed from an idea that I mentioned to Sean in my post (Fuck This Shit) where he first mentioned the writing game in a comment. I wanted to get a feel for writing something like this, because I've been toying with the idea of doing it for a while now, writing about living with an alcoholic father and a bipolar mother. Anyhoot, when I get to the next prompt, it's going to be fiction because I simply don't have the emotional or mental energy to do something so close to my heart right away.

withoutshade said over 3 years ago ...

Hmm... A writing game would be kind of fun. What about a fun one to step away from such strong and such emotional ties. (I know I couldn't handle that). A Yakkstr collaborative story perhaps? Just tossing an idea out.

I hope you feel better Hegie.

hegemone said over 3 years ago ...

WS - Oh I felt much better after having posted it and being done with it. Just glimpses into my past that ordinarily I prefer not to remember, but then if it's something I want to actually compile and write, I've got to get in the practice of it, get used to the feel and see what I need to do to make it happen. My next piece is going to be fiction, and hopefully a little more fun, or at the very least not so heavy. I just have to have the time to sit down and do it, lol.

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