Angry Anymore

chile_villiarica.jpgBubble. Furiously simmer. Boil over. And explode. Repeat for 10 to 20 years. This was the family recipe passed on for generations of hotheaded alcoholics. The funny thing is I always thought I wasn’t one of them. You know one of those angry, yelling types who blew the fuck up out of nowhere and for no good reason. Those assholes were cray-cray. I mean I loved them and I was related to them but they needed to relax. But I also thought that I wasn’t an alcoholic so what did I know?


Turns out, your buddy ole smiling Sean Mahoney is one angry muthafucker. Thru a series of writings that the kids in programs that help people stop killing themselves with drugs and alcohol  call “stepwork” I was able to learn this. The more I wrote and looked at my past actions, the more I realized how incredibly pissed off I was. Pissed off at Catholic school teachers who humiliated me. Pissed off at exes who didn’t love me enough. Pissed off at myself for making the same mistakes year after year.  If I looked at this stuff and found my part and cleaned up my messes, I’d feel better and maybe, just maybe I’d stop drinking to dull how angry I was. They turned out to be right. And seven years later they are still right. I’m back into doing this kind of writing again and I guess I should explain why.  A mutual friend with the same time as me relapsed, couldn’t stop and killed himself. Another friend who I got sober with in 2009 and with more time than me went out and now struggles to stay sober. And yet another beloved friend had seven years but relapsed and has spent the last seven trying to get sober. He just celebrated a year. This sort of thing happens in recovery (sadly, a lot)but for some reason these events got to me this year. All of these people had the amount of time I had and suddenly did not. I was terrified. So I asked my sponsor if we could do the work again. Thus, here I am looking at how angry I am yet again.


I realize for me, like the generations of hothead Irish alcoholics before me, that anger is poison. I’ve had two maybe three big, angry explosions in sobriety. They feel awful. They feel out of control. They feel like the kind of thing that would make me go back to drinking. Rage is equally as deadly as drugs and alcohol and I’ve seen people destroyed by it. Therefore, I have to look at it. I have to treat it. I have to write about it. Sigh. Seven years later, I’m still wishing for the unsavory parts of my character to vanish but they don’t unless I do a little work on them. This time around, I’m discovering there’s still a few things that I’m really angry about. It’s deeper, less superficial stuff though. I’m angry at America. I’m at angry at the news. I’m angry at the way we treat each other. I’m angry at racist, homophobic, sexist, intolerant assholes, in general. But the people I dated, the people who raised me, the people I drank with and probably pissed off too? Child. Ain’t nobody got time for the that.

Vivid colorful landscape scenery with a footpath through the hill covered by violet heather flowers and green valley river mountains Pentland hills near Edinburgh Scotland

Miraculously, through doing this stuff that seems impossible and like a real pain in the neck, a lot of the things I thought I’d never get over, I’m just not angry about anymore. Really. There’s a lot of forgiveness. There’s even more accountability. And there’s a strong recognition that being crazy and angry for me is a toxic place to be. On my best days, I can let anger say it’s thing and explode and then tell it, “Thank you for sharing. Now, go sit your angry ass down.” On my worst days? I try to shut up and not hurt people.  Yesterday, my sponsor told me to look at the people and things I have resentments against and realize which ones have to do with acceptance. What am I unwilling to accept the way they are? Turns out, that’s almost everything. For me, I can be sad today. I can have compassion. I can even be disappointed by the world and the people who populate it. I can also take action and change the things I’m mad about. But I just can’t be angry anymore.

8 thoughts on “Angry Anymore

  1. Ahhhh anger. Yes, I too come from a Scottish/Irish alcoholic family filled with anger and rage. I too was filled with anger and rage. Those years are so sad to me. So much wasted time and I am so grateful to be free from that intense tent of anger that kept me trapped in my own shit for so long. Many circumstances led to my liberation, and working the 12 steps of Alanon, numerous times was part of that. A spiritual awakening where I received forgiveness and compassion and acceptance when I felt like I least deserved it was another. I had to be the humble recipient to be able to be share it with others. Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death affected me the way your friends did….I was horrified. 25 years sober and then he was gone. We/they are never “cured.” I think there had been a small little section of my heart that had hoped we would be different… That my girl would be healed and whole and free FOREVER. We will see….God and she are in charge of those things. I just get to walk out each day in love and forgiveness with my fellow travelers.

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  2. Oh yes. So me. Just the other night I yelled to my wife, “Oh, who the fuck cares!?” as a response to her opinion while I was on a phone conversation. Terrible! It really caught me by surprise too. I’m actually going to do some therapy work with this side of myself, because it seems to have come out en force in year five of my recovery. As always, love your writing, Sean. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s awesome Dan. It’s funny how even more unsavory parts of our personalities get revealed the more we’re sober. But at least we have tools to deal with it now. Nice to know I’m not alone, Dan. Alone and angry is no bueno. 👍


  3. I love this and I love you for being willing to look at the things I am only reluctantly willing to acknowledge in myself. “All went well for a while, but he failed to enlarge his spiritual life” rings through the back of my condemning thoughts. Hope our paths cross again sometime soon 🙂

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  4. Ugh. Dude, yes. And the self-rightousness of it all. I can get so sick of my self with it. Whenever I “blow up” around the house it is rarely because of the thing that’s in front of me, like the dishes not being done or some bullshit, it’s because I’ve been storing it up for days, weeks..years?

    Liked by 1 person

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