This was inspired by a writing prompt asking us to describe the worst fight we’ve ever had with a parent. If you have a similar story, share a link below.

For most of my life I’ve considered myself a laid-back type of guy. There weren’t too many things you could throw at me that I couldn’t find a way to brush of my shoulder and move on with my day like nothing ever happened.

One of the worst arguments I’ve ever had with one of my parents happened when I was 16. It was February 1999 and only two months earlier my mom had passed away. Like almost every Saturday of my teens I was upstairs in the “TV Room” lounging on the couch watching what else but TV when the phone rang.  After debating if it was worth the effort to sit up and answer the phone for a call I knew wasn’t meant for me, I decided to pick up the phone.

“Hello.”

“Is your Dad there?” a voice of a man I’m not familiar with says with a less than friendly tone.

“No, I’m not sure where he is.”

“This is _______, Suzie’s boyfriend. Tell him to call me when he gets home.”

Right away I knew what was going on. My dad was dating and my lifelong equanimity was gone.

I remember my heart sinking to the bottom of my stomach and not knowing what to do. For the next 10 minutes I paced the upstairs of my house going from my brother’s room, to my room, to the TV room and back again waiting for my Dad to come home.

Do I say something? Should I be mad? What are my grandparents going to think when they find out my Dad is dating a new woman? What will my brother and sister think about this? Is this woman’s boyfriend going to stock my dad and hurt him?

I had so many questions running through my mind and nobody to talk too. Unfortunately, that was a feeling that would become par for the course over the next few years in that house.

Eventually my dad made it back home from doing whatever it was he was doing. Sitting there with all those questions inside of my mind and no way to release them led to a feeling of panic and desperation. Anyone with a working knowledge of psychology can tell you those two feelings bottled up will only lead to one thing….anger. I was a bottle of diet soda waiting for someone to drop a roll of mentos inside of me.

I made my way downstairs into the kitchen to find my dad and try to figure out what the hell was going on.

“Dad, some guy called here today asking for you and he sounded pretty mad.”

“Did he say who it was?” he answered, the nervousness showing on his face.

“Yeah, he said he was Suzie’s boyfriend and he needed to talk to you.”

My dad was caught and he knew it. Instead of owning up to the situation, he decided to keep quiet and hope I would drop the conversation. But there was no way I was walking away from the conversation without finding out what was going on.

“Why is this guy calling the house dad?”

“I asked Suzie to go see a movie as friends and her ex-boyfriend doesn’t like it. He’s been calling her house too.”

Right then and there I had all the information I needed and the aforementioned mentos were dropped. Every ounce of anger, sadness, and pain that I had held in since my mother passed away came out in the worst way possible over the next few minutes.

“Why do you need to go the movies with another woman?” I screamed, the rage taking over. My voice began to quiver, tears rolled from my eyes, and my body began to quake.

“It’s just a movie and it’s only as friends.”

“Who cares? Mom just died two months ago. Why do you need friends so bad all of the sudden? What about us?”, I asked, referring to my brother and sister and I.

“Everyone needs friends.”

“What do you need friends for? You’re an old man. You have kids to think about. And why are you dating someone you work with? What about your rule about not hiring anyone you know from your personal life? Did that rule go out the window when my mom died and you decided you needed “friends”? I thought I had him there, but there was no end to this mess in sight.

“You don’t know what it’s like to be 41 years old and by yourself. I need a friend…someone to talk to”.

It must have went on for twenty minutes…me, screaming my heart out and my dad yelling back about his unyielding desire for friendship he had held in for all of two months.

My heart hurt beyond belief. When you are 16 and your mother dies, two months is no time at all to cope with the pain. Everyday was something different I had to deal with. No longer was my mom in the kitchen when I got home from basketball practice asking how my day was. In those two months I had to adjust to coming home to an empty house. I hadn’t even begun to heal and here my dad goes and starts dating someone.

Eleven years later and I still haven’t forgiven my dad for the things I learned that day. This December he marries the woman he decided he needed to be friends with. Should I be happy for my dad? Maybe.  I’ve tried ignoring the problem, the woman he dated, my dad, I’ve gone to psychotherapy, and tried countless other methods to help move beyond this issue.

Without a doubt this is the hardest problem I’ve ever had to deal with. I was a kid with a heart I thought couldn’t be broken any further only to have my dad rip out whatever was left and step all over it.  When I picked the phone up that day I didn’t think that was the beginning of a dilemma that would haunt me for the next decade and who knows how many more years into the future.

Every great thing my dad ever did was overshadowed from that point on. Lately, I’ve been asking myself if the fight is with my dad or within my own mind. He’s happy and ready to start a new life with someone that makes his days a little easier. And me, I go back and forth inside my mind wondering if I even want to do something as simple as making a phone to see how my dad is doing. This laid-back kind of guy isn’t so easygoing anymore.

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