My heart was pulsating so rapidly in that single moment that I was confident it was going to force itself out of my chest and into my trembling hands. At the same time, my stomach felt as though it were dancing with my intestines, knotting itself to the point of no return. But I had been certain and courageous with my words.
“You have no right to talk to her like that.”
I don’t deal with confrontation well. When I say confrontation, I don’t mean telling my family that they are wrong or telling a significant other how I felt about a fight we had. In their own ways, those are confrontations. I am talking, specifically, about confrontation that occurs with someone who does not have control over their emotions. For example, I have a coworker that I do not particularly like. There are a few moments where I could have confronted him and told him directly that what he did was not appropriate, but I know he has a temper so I avoid saying anything that might set him off. This particular feature of myself could stem from childhood. I’m not totally sure. I do know that I do not like confrontation, so in that moment above, I’m surprised I could utter the statement, let alone retain eye contact with the person I was speaking to.
Some of the details are foggy, as the typically are when it comes to memory. Nothing is ever 100%. But the words I said, I remember. I was in 8th grade, and the only reason I know that is because he wasn’t out of the house yet. I came from the kitchen to see my mom sitting on the couch as he stood there, calling her names, telling her she was worthless. Again. He was drunk, of course, and tonight he was mean drunk. I could see my mom starting to tear up and something switched. Like I said, I don’t like confrontation, but something in me was tired of all this. Tired of walking on eggshells so as to not offend him or upset him while he did this to her. While he was the one in the wrong and not us. So I said something. 14-year-old me stood up to my dad, and I told him that he had no right to talk to my mom like that. As the words began to escape my mouth, my entire body began to tremble, awaiting his response.
In the seconds that followed, my dad uttered them back to me, as a question. “I have no right? I have no right?!?” My mom was up and at my side before I had even realized she had gotten up off the couch. She ushered me and my three younger siblings into the center bedroom and shut the door behind us. The door trembled with the bellowing of his deep voice. The walls shook as his fist came in contact. As the four of us huddled together on the bed, hysterical, my father put two holes in the wall. He wanted to talk to me, but my mom stood in front of the door, as immovable as concrete. Within just a few short minutes, the yelling and the banging of fists into walls stopped.
We came out of the center bedroom, and my mom had us go and get ready for bed. My dad couldn’t get what he wanted, so he went for left. He went for a walk somewhere. Later that night, he was brought back by the police because he was at a park after hours. As quickly as the situation had escalated, it was over.