April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and Celebrate Diversity Month, two topics that weigh heavily on my heart. Read on to learn how anger and sports can be a positive, as well as what to be aware of for challenges.
Bullying, Child Abuse, And Racism Result in a Stormcloud of Rage
My husband Jim grew up in an era when child abuse was not talked about and diversity was not celebrated. He shared his intimate and deeply personal perspective-including his challenges and struggles with bullies, physical limitations, childhood abuse, disappointments, oppression, and racism in our book, Raging Love, An Athlete’s Journey to Self-Validation and Purpose.
His experiences and childhood traumas made him angry. And while his anger was unacceptable by the adults in his life, he was told the anger of his abuser and the physical and emotional abuse came from love.
Permission To Be Angry
Jim’s high school wrestling coach was the first adult to give him permission to be angry. And not just be angry but channel that energy into an aggressive force to take down his opponent.
His anger was intense.
While his opponents channeled their aggression into beating him, Jim channeled his anger into destroying them. He developed a controlled, focused rage that had been pent up inside him for almost sixteen years, ready to be released.
Anger helped Jim succeed as a wrestler:
“I was fueled by rage over the challenges and struggles with bullies, physical limitations, childhood abuse, disappointments, oppression, and racism I suffered as a child. I became a master at managing my anger, turning it on and off on demand.”
Anger Management In Sports
For Jim, managing emotions and specifically his anger, became his superpower. As a child bullied and physically abused at home, he learned to suppress his emotions, especially anger. It was unacceptable in his family. Wrestling gave him a healthy outlet for his rage.
In Raging Love, Jim writes that it was rage that ultimately led him to become a national champion.
“It was this focused energy and really, all the anger and rage I felt from my childhood that drove me. Between my father’s abuse and my mother’s manipulation and control, I was one pissed-off human being. I had suppressed my emotions through my early years, but that will only last so long. Sooner or later, it had to come out. I would think about my abuse and literally use my mind and push back any fears of failure or danger.
Being able to summon this rage on a dime allowed me to lift more weight. It didn’t matter how much it hurt. It didn’t matter how the pain of 630 pounds on my back, or 680 pounds lifted off the floor, or 400 pounds I held in my hands, lowered to my chest and pushed back up, felt.
And hurt it did. Throughout my powerlifting career, I had constant pain in my joints, shoulders, and knees. I had little regard for my personal safety or of the repercussions of my emotions. The pain of sports was nothing compared to the pain of my childhood.”
In 1992, at age forty, Jim earned the title of American Drug-Free Deadlift National Champion (220-pound class) and set the US National Deadlift Record of 635 pounds.
The Power Of Forgiveness
In the final years of his powerlifting career, Jim started working with a psychotherapist to deal with the pain of his childhood. Over four years of counseling, he forgave his abuser and made peace with his past. He reprioritized his life goals and discovered his passion as a photographer, personal trainer and cyclist. His focus turned to coaching and serving others and helping them become their best in regard to their level of fitness and athletics.
“The challenges and setbacks of my youth combined with my success and victories in wrestling and powerlifting were just what I needed to turn the page and bring me to the next chapter of my life, where the real work began, but where I would truly learn to live and love. On the other side was where my passions turned to purpose. It was where “me” became “we,” and I truly dedicated my abilities to others, to a life of service.”
He also recognized all that he had sacrificed with his anger and his rise to national champion, least of all being his relationships.
From Anger To Love
It was in the gym where I first met Jim. He was teaching a progressive resistance training course and I showed up claiming I wanted to be strong. He read between the lines and while at the time I was reluctant to call my situation abusive, he recognized it for what it was. He knew all too well the feeling of not being good enough in someone else’s eyes and of being ridiculed or abused simply for existing.
Our friendship grew and Jim supported and encouraged me as best as he could. Most days he just listened until the time came when I walked away from my own abusive situation.
It was through our friendship that Jim introduced me to his love of road cycling. A runner for over 25 years, he knew it would be easier on my body in the long run. I fell in love with biking and with him.
In Jim’s words:
Our friendship deepened as we shared a combined love of road cycling. Eventually, that friendship turned to love. Four years later, we were married.
Prior to meeting Lori, my commitment to sports over-rode my commitment to a romantic relationship. With Lori, I didn’t have to choose. We could have both, together.
Anger Is Not Good Or Bad. It’s What You Do With It.
Jim could have repeated the pattern from his childhood. He could have become a bully or an abuser. He could have continued the legacy of unresolved anger.
I’m grateful he chose a different path. He used his anger to become a national champion. But his journey didn’t stop there. He has gone on to find passion, purpose and love, and he lives his life serving others.
And my life is better for it.
Note: Quotes from Raging Love, An Athlete’s Journey to Self-Validation and Purpose.
Raging Love: Far more than a sports memoir, Raging Love is a gripping tale of perseverance and purpose and a reminder that finding one’s path is, above all, an evolution from psychological discipline and mental toughness to forgiveness, spiritual peace, self-knowledge, and self-love.
In this book, King tells how he learned to focus his anger and channel it in a more positive direction to finally understand that athletic success does not always bring fulfillment, but rather forgiveness and mentoring others can help a person to evolve, find love, quality relationships, and live a more balanced life of purpose.
Raging Love is a must-read source of inspiration for everyone. Even non-sports fans will cheer for King as he wrestles his rage, learns to forgive, and turns his focus to the love and service of others.
When you buy direct from my publisher, you get a discount and I receive a higher royalty. 🙂 When completing your purchase, use coupon code KING at checkout to receive 10% off.Buy Raging Love
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With love, gratitude, and kindness,