I grasp the carton of milk in my left hand, and a clear plastic cup in my right. As I raise the carton in preparation to pour the milk, my left hand squeezes.
Milk flies. Splatters the table. Stains my shirt. I stare in shock, as if I’ve witnessed a murder in cold blood.
Oh, no, I think to myself, as realization settles in. Oh, God, no.
I hear her behind me. “What happened!?” she screams.
My heart rate doubles. Triples. I feel an intense fear wrap itself around my heart, and I wonder why I complained about my AP Biology homework yesterday. How could I have been so clumsy? Why did I squeeze the stupid milk carton?
“I spilled milk,” I say, “calm down.”
I’m not sure whether I’m telling that to myself, or to her. She strides toward me, picks up a towel, and throws it at me.
“You stupid son,” she yells,” why are always making problems in my life?”
I breathe. Brace myself. Don’t speak. Head down. Follow the protocol of the past 17 years of my life.
I stand, awkwardly, with milk dripping down my black Adidas t-shirt, as she proceeds to tear me apart. I pray, or hope, or wish that she doesn’t take the carton and throw that at me, too.
She barrages me for about forty minutes, while I think to myself take it, Thomas. Just take it. It’ll be over soon. She says many things to me, but I remember her distinctly screaming,” You make my life so difficult! You ruin everything!”
When my mom attacks me, she usually spends the first five minutes coming up with insults. Then, for a solid amount of time, she repeats those insults, at the top of her lungs, while sometimes adding variations to them (as in, stupid and worthless idiot, as opposed to stupid and worthless son). At the end of the assault she takes approximately five minutes to really drill into me by escalating the severity of her screams and increasing her curse word per second ratio.
This time, she ends it mercifully, by saying,” Get out! Get out of my face!”
I proceed to rush away from her presence, down the stairs of my basement, and into my room. I realize, with an ache, that I left my Kindle in the kitchen. No escaping into my latest book, then, I think to myself. I turn on my laptop, and Google, “anger management issues”, followed by, “anger management statistics”, followed by “psychology of anger”. I read, and as I read, my heart slowly but surely slows down, almost returning to its normal state.
For the first time in an hour, everything feels like it’s going to be okay.
Ignorance is the parent of fear. By combating my ignorance, I’m fighting my fear. This is why, when you are trapped in a situation with an angry person, you must evaluate exactly what is going on. What is the source of their anger? Is there anyway to remove that source? If not, how can you talk them out of anger? Can you talk them out of anger? Should you simply try to leave?
Now I know just how my mom thinks, and how she lacks the ability to sublimate her anger into something useful. I know that when she says that I’m making her life difficult, it’s her own fault for forcing small mistakes to become big problems. I’m learning more and more about the emotion of anger, and what parts of the brain regulate it and produce the hormones that create it. Though I regret not having my phone on me to record the incident, I relish in the information the internet provides.
I don’t need my fists to fight, because knowledge is power.
And I’m striking back.