An Open Letter to a Victim of My Wrath

For the purposes of this open letter, the subject will be addressed as Margaret. -Ty


Dear Margaret,

I apologize, and ask your forgiveness. You, a stranger I had never seen before, nor have seen since, were the victim of my wrath on a day when I had to be angry. I will go one further. It was on a day, in fact during an entire era of my life where I had to hate someone.

Actually I had to hate several people. Many people. All people, I suppose. It was people I had loved that had done such damage to me that year, so how good could people be as a species?  There was zero hope  in my life at that point. There was virtually nothing in the world that I found redeeming. Humanity was filth to me in most cases outside of my own family. Motivation was non-existent. Pain and destruction were everywhere and no matter how loudly I cried out for help when it all started, nobody was there to show me a way out of it. That makes a person hurt, angry, bitter, and any number of other things that can and do slowly destroy the soul. Though I no longer, thank god, feel as I did when I attacked you, I can’t help but wonder if I was in some sense permanently damaged by the feelings and perceptions I held back then, or by the attack I launched on you.

Still, that is of no matter to you, who had merely the misfortune of being on duty when I and my hell came to your place of employment.

To be honest, Margaret, I don’t think you were performing your job particularly well that day. Maybe it was a bad day or time in your life as well, or maybe it just wasn’t the job for you. Maybe you were new, I don’t know. And I didn’t care then, I assure you. Whatever the case, things seemed to take longer when it was my turn than they should have. Longer than they had for other people there that day. Longer than I, in my impatience was willing to wait.

You see, when someone is as far down as I was, without friends, hope, decency to cling to, every misfortune is magnified. You get to thinking that if every significant thing in life has to go wrong each and every single solitary day, the little moments should at least be able to fall into place. Little moments like buying things in a place of business without incident.

So when even the smallest of things don’t go right, (like having to deal with a cashier that is confused about something for more than a moment or two), hell breaks loose. You can’t rage at the big things which are killing you, so you rage at the small things that are right in front of you, chipping away at your ability to do go even an hour without melting down. And when that happens, you call someone a name. I qualify, when that happened to me at that exact moment in my life, I called someone a  name. I called you a name. A name I won’t repeat here, but one that I assure you, in that moment, was designed to hurt. To anger.

In my head, Margaret, your perceived incompetence was making me quite angry, for all of the reasons I explained above. And since I couldn’t get you to stop doing the thing that was making me angry, I resorted to evening the score. If I had to be upset, I was going to make damn sure that you were quite upset as well. So I called you a name. These many years later, I regret it, even though at that moment I did not.

I of course have no idea if what I did had the desired effect. For all I know, you got called that half a dozen times that day. It might have bounced off of you with no impact at all. You certainly didn’t seem more than momentarily surprised by what I said. You didn’t retaliate. (A testament to your professionalism.) In a way I hope my attack was ineffective, because then I could at least live with the fact that I was an asshole among many you dealt with in that job.

However, the chances are equally good that it did not just bounce off of you. I imagine that it doesn’t bounce off of most normal people when others verbally attack them in public as I did you. And it is that possibility, even nearly thirteen years later, that keeps the incident alive in my head and my heart. You deserve this apology even if what I said meant nothing to you, because the act of saying it was wrong. But if you were affected, (as I designed it back then), I doubt I will ever fully atone for it within my own morality, as a man far removed from what I was that day.

If only you worked a regular shift at a place I visited on a frequent basis. Then by the time I thawed from my overall hatred of life I could have sought you out directly and said this years ago. If only years worth of coming back to civility and decency as my gaping wounds finally began to scab over could have happened in the course of an hour, and allowed me to say these things that same day. Actually, if only that healing, or at least some degree of peace had come to me sooner than I had come to your place of business, I would have never attacked you in the first place.

But I did say something in the first place. Never will I have lived a life wherein I did not say it. Part of what is perhaps karmic punishment for my behavior when I was lost is that I see myself attacking you again and again sometimes, and I have to concentrate to gently remove it from my mind. (Sometimes I succeed.)

My only recourse after all of these years was this open letter which you will never see. But should you see it, and know who I am even now, there are two two things that may or may not make you feel better about my attack on you. The first being, as I have said, that I am sorry just about every time it comes up in my head, which is often. I have never, looking back, fully gotten over my choice. Perhaps that satisfies you.

Secondly, though I still loose my patience with poor service at places of businesses from time to time, and I still have no problem letting people know I am annoyed with it, I have never again been that angry about it. Never again have I called someone the name I called you. And even in my sometimes justified anger over poor service, I see a shadow of you standing nearby, to remind me that I am not that man anymore. I’m not the man that needs to attack people even if they are poor at what they do. Even if in fact they are not decent people. I am better than that now. Perhaps knowing that satisfies you in some way as well.

You will forever remain anonymous to me, so I’ll never know directly if you have forgiven me or even remember this incident. But I am not anonymous. My name is Ty Unglebower, and I willfully, verbally attacked you in public without justification. I own it.

sincerely, Ty Unglebower

This post is part of the Open Letter Continuum.

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