By: Dwayne Brooks
About a year ago, I was banned from Mercy because I acted aggressively toward someone who was upset with me. We started to argue and things escalated—neither of us could control our temper so our time away from the community escalated too. One week became one month, became six months, as we couldn’t quiet down. “Make it a year, three years, forever!” I baited the pastors. Six months is the one that stuck.
At first getting banned did not matter—I was mad and didn’t want to be at Mercy anyway. It took me a while for the consequences of my actions to sink in. I’ve had arguments with other people before, but this was the first time that I was banned for a substantial amount of time. After a week or so I felt that I had let myself down both by my reaction and how I carried myself.
I continued on with my work but knowing I could not go to Mercy left an empty space in me. I kept popping up at Mercy, even though I was not supposed to, because I had nothing to lose—I was already banned.
Recently, I was banned again, this time for a month. Instead of coming around during that month, I stayed away. I knew that I would be able to come back more quickly if I showed that I could respect boundaries. When I am away from Mercy I miss it. I enjoy the singing which helps relax my mind. And I find that the Bible studies build up my spirit.
Losing my temper has not been helping me to be who I want to be or to interact with others the way I think I should. While I was away from Mercy I had the chance to take an inventory of myself and really think about how I react to things, especially where I am in denial about my actions. I watch my surroundings and take it all in. I see lots of things, lots of violence, lots of people treating each other poorly. When I am mad, I frequently try to suppress it until one day, everything that I have been holding in comes out. At that point it doesn’t matter who I hurt—the water must boil, the ball must unravel. I need a release.
I am learning how to control my temper a little better, though I still have a long way to go. I need Mercy in that way; it is difficult to try and change my attitude when I am alone. I have started talking about some of the things that are on my mind—expressing myself rather than holding things back. I have found that it really helps me to express what is on my mind either to one of my pastors, my mother, or my Higher Power. I feel better and more relaxed when I express myself, as if a hard ball in my stomach deflates.
It is a process, as we say. But it is good work, and I’m proud of the progress I have made.