Spilled Milk and Staunched Fears

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.

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13 Comments

Filed under Personal

13 responses to “Spilled Milk and Staunched Fears

  1. Eugine

    It’s times like this that I feel utterly hopeless. I’m, like, a complete stranger who lives a continent across you. I could say I’m sorry you have to endure the sort of abuse. I could tell you to hang in there like you have to this date.
    I could encourage you to share your problems with us and not bottle them up.
    But you already know this all, don’t you. You’re a smart guy, as you said, knowledge gives you power over your mother.
    I’m not making any sense at all. I just want you to know I’m thinking about you and the situation you’re in.

    • Eugine

      Oops, I meant “helpless”, not “hopeless”. I feel utterly helpless because I’m just another anonymous voice floating around in the internet.

      • Nope, you’re definitely not helpless – it gives me a strange mixture of hope/relief/gratitude when people are kind of enough to respond with messages like these. Thank you again for your sympathy, and I will do all of those things you suggest. (:

        • Eugine

          Aw Thomas, how come you end up making me feel better instead of other way around? And you already are doing right things to fight back. Everyone’s life is half-good and half-bad, right? That means you’ll have splendid life once this dark phase is over…

          • Yep! I’m doing my best now to garner as much information as possible by reading and doing my best in school, and of course, I’m starting to fill out my college applications. I’ll have my freedom soon.

  2. I feel the same way as Eugine. I hope you always remember you are neither stupid nor worthless even when it might be hard.

    • Of course I will, Ruth, especially after I’m able to write about such instances on this blog and know that people can sympathize with me. Thanks for taking the time out of your busy writer’s life to read this!

  3. Andreas

    Well, that was harsh. She didn’t have to call you stupid. It’s true that parents have problems dealing with their emotions. I tried to always obey what they want, but somehow, it appeared that they expect more and push us to do what they want, instead of what we want. Be strong, Thomas!

    P.S: I recently watched Step Up 4 and I was such an idiot for not asking my parents to watch it with me. I figured that, maybe, after watching it, they knew that I’ve always wanted to be a choreographer and dancer, and they would finally let me. It was such a good movie. There’s this girl who wants to be a contemporary dancer, but her father wouldn’t let her, so she did whatever it takes to convince her father that dance is, in fact, her life. Her dad accepted who her daughter is, eventually, and was proud of her.

    • I’m glad that another individual can relate to this – while I appreciate that they have expectations in the first place, and that at times she tries to help me, more often than not her emotions explode in completely irrational situations. I will be strong, however, I don’t have it that bad.

      That sounds like a marvelous movie! I would love to see Step Up 4, maybe I’ll go with a friend some time if I’m ever let out of this house. Stories like that girl’s give me hope – and hopefully, something like that will come to you as well. (:

  4. Maggie

    I feel the same way as Eugine as well.

    I’m really sorry that you have to go through that. I admire your strength, Thomas. Knowledge is power. You make me want to react in a similar fashion when I’m faced with such situations, instead of yelling back at my father as I’ve been wont to do lately.

    • I am lucky to be heard by people like you! And I am glad that this has provided you with a new perspective and a different way to deal with your father – maybe it will work out better than what has happened in the past.

  5. You’re smart to have examined the cause behind her anger, you understand it now and that knowledge as you’ve said is power, you’ll wield it well. I’m fortunate to say I’ve not experienced anything like you have but I do know that you’ll make it through, I feel it.

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