The Voice Of Fear

Loss of Control


Wow, where did that come from?

I don't know,

but I sure hope it doesn't return.


Emotionally, when we experience a moment that is so overwhelmingly painful we can lose control. It is like putting your hand on a hot stove. You react quickly because the pain is so intense. Sometimes, however, the pain can build over time like air in a balloon and then explode when balloon meets needle.

 

Losing control requires only a single situation that overwhelms us. The best way to avoid being overwhelmed is to avoid repressing your fear. The longer we repress fear, the greater likelihood that we will lose control.

 

When bullied children finally react by bringing a gun to school and killing fellow students, they have lost control. Had the bullying been dealt with earlier, the emotions would not have built up to that point.

 

Repressed fear acts like gunpowder. Gunpowder, if not contained, has no explosive property. You could pour a pound of it into a pile and light it and it would just make a lot of smoke and sparks. A small amount of it trapped in a bullet, however, produces a great explosion. Fear has the same properties. You trap enough fear for long enough and you are going to have an explosion or loss of control.

 

Through most of my school years I witnessed or experienced bullying. It was never fun but somehow I just came to expect it from certain types of students. I found that when I came upon a student being bullied it was harder to watch than it was for me to be bullied myself. I guess it was kind of like the way a parent feels in that they would rather have something happen to them than their child.

 

Sometimes I would stand up for kids that got bullied. When I say 'stand up' I don't mean that I defended them, but rather directed the bullying onto myself. I didn't go to dangerous schools or live in bad neighborhoods, so I had the luxury of knowing the bullying would be survivable. I didn't think that the years of putting up with bullies would fill me with the kind of repressed fear that could make me lose control. It felt more like something I just had to put up with – but  I was wrong.

 

What I found out was that we all have different buttons. I didn't realize I had a button that would make me lose total control. The first story is an example of bullying that didn't hit that button even though you might think it was worse. The second one did.

 

 

My Proud Moment Letter Jacket

 

 

I was a shy nerd in high school, so I was not destined for the highs that the more popular or talented people may have experienced then. I was quite content to be invisible because it fit with my personality. I simply was not ready for social interaction. My father would come into the den on a Friday night when I was watching my favorite television show and ask me if I wanted the car or any cash. Without lifting my head I would say no. He would walk out of the room probably wondering what he had done wrong.

 

I did play golf in high school which, at the time, only increased my nerd status. I was pretty good and managed to play and letter my freshman year. So here came my big moment. My older brother had played golf and got a varsity sweater so I figured it was my turn. When the sweater arrived I put it on and looked at myself in the mirror. It had a big 'E' on one side and the emblem of a golf bag on the shoulder. I thought it was pretty cool and I was even crazy enough to wear it to school.

 

Looking back I am not sure where I got the courage to put on this nerd alert neon sign, but I did. I walked through the parking lot about to enter school when I passed three senior football players. They stared at me, trying to figure out what in the world I could have lettered in. One told me to stop, and like an idiot I did. They spun me around to look at me from all angles and then they saw the golf bag insignia.

 

The biggest, dumbest one grabbed me like Lennie holding a mouse and tore off the patch. They could not believe that someone could letter in golf. With the three of them wearing their letter jackets, the fact that I looked like Mr. Rogers in this sweater put them over the edge. Clearly they thought this diminished their achievements and what it meant to letter. They proceeded to grab me by the feet and shoulders and hoisted me into a large, green dumpster. I heard their laughter trail off as I lay upon the garbage. I crawled out of the dumpster, took off the sweater and stuffed it in my locker. I silently wondered what I was thinking having worn it in the first place.   

 

 

My “Lord of the Flies” Moment

 

 

It was my junior year in high school, and my P.E. class was heading out to the soccer fields to play flag football. That class was always the worst, as it seemed the only ones who got exercise were the bullies who tossed around the weaker kids.

 

There was a kid in my class just like me – quiet and a regular target for the bullies. Often time I would step in and deflect the attacks my way because I felt I could deal with them better. It wasn't like we were friends or hung out, he just seemed so defenseless.

 

The two of us were on the soccer fields when several of the bullies started throwing a football at me. They circled around me and got big kicks out of trying to hit me with the ball. I always felt it was best to go along and soon they would get bored. The kid I usually stood up for was standing off to the side when they spotted him. I thought they were going to start doing the same thing to him, but instead they invited him to throw the ball at me.

 

I was sure that he would decline – but he didn't.

 

His demeanor changed and being invited into the group really got him excited. He looked at me and I looked at him. He scrunched up his face and threw it as hard as he could at me. The ball sailed over my head and the bullies laughed at how weak his throw was.

 

I snapped.

 

I was prepared for anything but this. The group had turned him into another bully. I realized he would have been a bully too if he had been bigger. I lost complete control, as his betrayal was too painful to contain. I charged at him and drove him into the ground. I might have killed him if a coach had not dragged me off. I was taken to the principal's office and threatened with a three-day suspension. I told them I didn't care. I was sick of how they did nothing to the bullies in this school and they could all go to hell. I told them to call my parents because I wanted to tell them how much they suck. I was still out of control.

 

They gave me an hour to calm down and then sent me back to class. They didn't even call my parents. I guess they found some truth in what I had accused them of. The only good thing that came out of it was that the kid stayed clear of me and the bullies picked others to abuse from then on.  

 

Fear needs a valve that keeps it from getting trapped and building pressure. That valve is communication. Any emotion that we honestly express keeps the valve open, and any emotion we repress will eventually turn explosive. It doesn't matter what the emotion is, because it is not just dark emotions that explode. Any emotion repressed for long enough can create a loss of control.

 

Did you know that any flammable substance in dust form can be explosive when trapped in a small space? In the big corn storage towers a spark can make the corn dust as explosive as gun powder. Any repressed emotion can create a loss of control.

 

Take love, for example.

 

If a person represses their feelings for someone long enough, they could become an obsessed stalker. If you are extremely angry with someone and you honestly tell them how you feel, then the emotion dissipates. Just like gun powder, emotions need to be packed into a small, tight place to become explosive. Out in the open, honestly communicated and expressed, they present no danger.


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