by Beau Burriola -
SGN European Correspondent
I counted along with the loud beat coming from my iPod, buoyed by rage. When you go to the gym pissed off, you are sure to have a workout unlike any other, and these days my muscles were bigger than I could ever manage to get them to be before. Anger was building.
I suppose I could have created an oasis. With my marriage falling apart, I could have tried to create some inner peace and calm the seas inside my breaking heart, but I was just fine with the storm. It was a source of energy when I felt drained from all the fighting and the sharp words.
"You gonna do another set with those?" the bald guy asked me in French, presumably referring to the dumbbells I was holding.
Normally, I would step aside, hand the guy the weights and be a perfectly accommodating gentleman, but I wasn't in the mood. I didn't respond. I wanted to be alone in this place, going through the ritual without all the other people. There wasn't enough room in my grief and anger for the niceties of everyone else. My entire world - the perfect Gay marriage - was at its edge, hovering over the abyss and waiting for the final nudge. I couldn't spare a smile for a stranger when I felt like my world was being razed.
Where I normally did three sets of each exercise, I was doing five. Where I would normally try not to hurt myself, I was being deliberately reckless. I lifted until I found that familiar pain, a pain I could identify with, a pain I could bathe in and soak in, which somehow understood and identified with the pain I was feeling about the piled-up train wreck of my life. I bonded with that pain and made it my banner, promising to do this every day until I felt like the other pain had subsided. There was comfort in that pain.
Each painful set represented a specific anger. Incline: I'm angry that after all these years of working through the obstacles and the impossible odds, our relationship became susceptible to the little tiny things. Bench: As a Gay man, I'm angry that I couldn't better prove to my family and everybody else how long two Gay people can stay together. Tricep Pull: I'm angry at him for not meeting me in the middle and I'm angry at myself for getting pushed to the edge. Decline: I'm angry that we couldn't see any of these problems until we moved in together.
"You're here at about this time every day, yeah?" It was the bald guy again. Small talk.
"No," was all I could manage, not hiding my annoyed tone. I was angry at the bald guy for not getting it. I stared at a spot in the wall, through the wall, and kept my gaze there. He didn't talk to me again.
When I leaned back for my last decline press, the world seemed fittingly upside down. The blood rushed to my head and my already-red face turned redder. Things seemed about right. With each press, my anger became less abstract and more concrete, and I felt like I could put it inside a box with all the other anger in my heart, count it, weight it, and stack it. I knew how much it was and where it was.
By the time I had showered and changed and headed out the door, I was exhausted and shaky. I began the slow trek home, back to the battlefield, back to the burning embers and back to the uncertainty of everything. Having taken stock of my anger, I hoped to be less absorbed by it. I was tired of fighting, tired of the yelling. But I wasn't yet tired of being tired and really I preferred exhaustion to any more anger.
Walking back home to the charged silence, I was too exhausted to fight anymore and that's exactly as I intended. When given the choice between silent exhaustion and endless rage, who wouldn't prefer exhaustion?
"One should absorb the colour of life, but one should never remember its details. Details are always vulgar."
-Oscar Wilde, Dorian Grayw
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