The howling will take you.
It is the justice of the cliff face, as unforgiving as cruel gravity and as jagged as a granite crag.
The howling waits. It is you at your most vicious, and it is easily provoked.
You see, your insecurity is not a weak or toothless creature. It is the sum total of all your silenced rage, of all the times you bit your tongue and muttered darkly. It is that part of you where the venom goes, where the knives are, where that vicious part of you lurks that would butcher a child just to see a mother cry.
It is the howling, and there is one thing that it cannot stomach.
And the crazy thing is that it is difficult to see the trigger, for once the howling descends upon you, you are torn limb from emotional limb. It will reduce everything in it's path to ash - and why?
Because it is the unleashed power of your unrequited hatred.
Now imagine if you unleash that hatred at someone else. Imagine how it would feel to unleash your hatred on someone - someone you know well.
You could tear them to shreds physically - or you could really hurt them. You could attack those wounds most deep and raw, those deep wounds that will collapse their personality like a house of cards into self-hate and despair.
But how much can you ever really know a person?
The truth is that there are secret wounds that lie buried behind the eyes of every single one of us, wounds so deep and dark that we would never speak of them to others.
What if you knew those wounds?
How fast could you reduce a man to suicidal despair if you knew those secret wounds that would grant you the ability to shatter him with a word?
The answer is seconds.
But you see, there is only one person in the whole world who knows those secret wounds in you, and that, my friend, is you.
And that is why you are the most deadly and savage threat you can or will ever face.
And the thing is, you do not need to go into fully fledged hatred for yourself in order for you to unleash the howling upon yourself.
All you need to do is lose your self-respect for just one second.
And in that second, you are already screaming because the howling will rise in you with the speed and intensity of the shriek of the feedback from a burning Stratocaster.
All it takes is for you to lose your self-respect for one moment, and you're already on your knees begging for the pain to stop.
My point is simple.
The howling cannot be controlled. It cannot even be slowed. All you can do is take the damage, then in it's wake pick up the pieces of what was once your personality and piece them together in some way that seems to work.
The howling is why so many live on their knees - because they compromise on how they allow themselves to be treated in life, and so they are torn to shreds in the holocaust of self-hate that leaves nothing but wreckage in it's wake.
You have to maintain your self-respect.
It is non-negotiable.
It is, as they say in Latin, a 'sine qua non'.
If you don't have it, the howling will take from you all that you do have and leave your vaunted dreams a mass of livid shards rattling between your ears awaiting your faltering attempts to rebuild some kind of personality.
And what is self-respect?
Self-respect is the knowledge that there is nothing in this world, no money, no woman, no man, no messiah, no message, no ideology, no hope, no plan, no crusade, no mission, no quest, no caveat, no quandary, no thing in all of the universe that is worth polluting the integrity of your genuine self for.
Now be warned lest you hide away behind a tantrum. This is not a cop-out for avoiding the shit you need to face to achieve your true potential. That shit is huge, and must be faced.
Remember - you can lie to yourself all you want to. The howling doesn't care about your lies. It is the part of you that sees how weak you are. It is the scourge, the terrible scourge that you wield upon yourself with chilling and callous rage, rendering your excuses and rationalizations as nothing.
There will be disrespect, and darkness and tests and pain to be taken. But have the courage to face it head on, and do not let it slide inside you like a snake.
The truth is that your 'self' such as it is, is infinite and beautiful like the microscopic complexity of a butterfly's wing or a strand of DNA. It is as powerful and unstoppable as a glacier or a tsunami. It is as deep and as creative as the universe itself because in truth, it is the universe itself.
There is nothing on this earth, nothing that can be named no matter how magnificent or majestic, no matter how phenomenal or unique, no matter how precious or wonderful - nothing that is worth compromising the sanctity of that radiant purity.
The funny thing is this - you can't fake this. If something truly owns you, that same thing will destroy you.
Nothing can stop it. You cannot dodge this one. It is the way of things.
If you're not prepared to walk away from something you love, that thing you love will gut you like a fish, because no matter how wonderful it is, it will overstep the boundary you never set, and when it does, the howling will come.
And once it comes, you're naught but ash, and that thing you love will look at you with the contempt you so richly deserve. And then it, or he or she or they will leave you broken.
You may recognise the pattern from those failed relationships with the women or the men you loved too much. I advance that it is a pattern that holds through all your life, through all the things you love.
So how to stop the howling from destroying you, while still holding fast to the things that you love?
It is simple, but pay attention, because simple and easy are very different things.
Everything pushes. Everything.
I remember being in love twice in my life and on both occasions, she pushed at the boundaries. On both occasions I had set none, and on both occasions I failed the test. Because I let myself be belittled, I lost self-respect for myself, just for an instant. And in that instant, the howling came and crippled me, and although a woman can love a man with a crippled body, no woman can love a crippled soul, whining and abject, begging for the least scraps of affection to rain meaning upon the desert I had reduced myself to.
These were not evil women. They were excellent women, the two best that I have yet encountered.
They did not 'compromise my self-respect' by pushing me beyond those boundaries. I did, by setting none.
And what is a boundary?
Is it the moment you open a can of anger? Is it the moment where you unleash the howling upon them? Or storm off in a tantrum? Or even shout "No! NO MORE!"
It is, simply, the moment where you call the bluff.
Where you let her or him or them know they a limit exists in you, and that the limit has been reached, and beyond that limit, there is reality, and the justice of the cliff face. That they stand at the brink and there is nowhere left for them to push you.
That is it. No more, no less.
And how do you call that bluff?
You just look. You just look deep into the eyes in a moment that has no anger and no resentment and chills to the marrow. That gaze that drains all the joking and all the fun from the situation and makes it clear that there is no room left for friendship. That this is the moment where they throw down, walk away or silence themselves and show respect.
Essentially, you hold their gaze and bring forth, into your eyes, the coldest and most chilling part of you. That part of you where all light dies. That part of you they need only glimpse for the briefest of moments to know that they should bite their tongue and watch their step around you from now on in.
You do not unleash the howling.
You leash the howling.
Then you bring the howling in a moment of total clarity where your eyes lock. It needs last but the briefest of moments. It is pure unspoken communication, and all the more powerful for it, because it cannot be faked.
And then, as soon as you see the glee and cockiness die in their eyes, you slide the howling back into the shadows and bring back the sunshine.
The howling is not a toy. It is the darkest part of you, the part of humanity you read about in the news when you read of a massacre.
But in order to live as a human should, you must maintain self-respect, because respect is the only armour the howling cannot penetrate. Without your self-respect, you are not just lost. You are damned. Damned and burning.
The howling is your greatest enemy, but while you retain your self-respect it is the one guardian that no-one will challenge.
Oh, and one other thing.
The sooner you nip shit in the bud, the smaller the bluffs you'll have to call and the easier things will be. If you let things grow out of control, the bluff you will have to call can, and may well end the relationship, or whatever it is that has taken your heart.
And when it ends, it may well take your heart with it.
But as far as I see it, that's the price you pay for the cowardice you showed in letting it get to that point. And when we are talking about the inescapable natural justice that runs through the affairs of men, my life has taught me that you are best paying in pain up front.
Hiding from what you know you have to do is cowardice, and cowardice is something you will not accept in yourself. As soon as you see cowardice in yourself, you will lose your self-respect, and your armour with it. And we all know what is waiting for you then.
I have two questions for you.
My first is this - how much bullshit are you prepared to swallow to achieve the thing you want the most, be it a relationship or a mission or a role or anything in all the world?
My second is this - how will you ever respect yourself enough to sustain your strength through the shit you'll need to face if you are the kind of person who swallows bullshit?
Your self-respect is the only armour you can have or will ever have against the most brutal and sadistic enemy you'll ever face - an enemy who can reduce you to a quivering chunk of ruined and bleeding flesh in moments.
But then, of course, you know who I'm talking about.
You are who I'm talking about.