I remember the moment when I knew my words had real power behind them. That my words had the power to wound someone. The day I told my father I hated him.
I don’t know why I want to even share this story. It isn’t a moment that I’m proud of. And to this day, over twenty years later, I am still ashamed of it.
I was in seventh grade. I was sitting at the dining room at the table. We had these super awesome chairs, they rolled, they swiveled, they leaned back, they had the worst 90s pastel color scheme, to be frank, they were freakin’ awesome. Pretty sure we bought them just so we could do super fun tricks in them. The dinner table is where we congregated usually. The chairs needed to be good.
Anyways, getting back to where I was. I was sitting at the dining room table with my girlfriends. Dad comes in the room and comes up behind me and dips my chair back and releases it. It was just a joke on his part, and like I described, the chairs were meant to do this. I must have been surprised though. Regardless of the chair’s ability, it was out of my control. I stuck out my hands to save from a fall and my heart rushed up to my throat. I looked up at my dad and said, “I hate you.” In front of my friends and everything.
I think there was some awkward silence from everyone as the tablo unfolded. I don’t remember if my friends were sent home. I just remember the look of total shock on my father’s face and he walked away. In the pit of my stomach a terrible dread took root. I did not know just then how bad I messed up, but I knew there was something very different happening.
My dad did not talk to me for days. I was devastated. Not nearly as much as my father, clearly. I had always been very close with Dad. Dad was an endless fountain of knowledge. I always thought he was the wisest person in the whole world. I tried to talk to him many times over the course of the next few days. I think at first I figured that he was just upset and it would blow over. So I let it be the first day.
By the third day I realized that there was no connection between my father and I. I would reach out to start a conversation and I would hit a brick wall. The guilt sunk into my very soul. I brought my problem up to my mother. She Did not tell me outright that I hurt my dad with my words, but guided the conversation so that I would come to the right conclusion.
I think that my apology to my father was my first honest apology I had ever delivered that wasn’t a squabble between siblings. It was the first time where I knew that my words really have power.
I don’t know why I got into such a horrid habit in the first place. I words “I hate you” are terrible. I don’t know why I assumed that words did not carry the power that they do. I had been tormented my whole childhood by bullies’ verbal barbs. Maybe I assumed that words don’t affect adults like they did for kids. Dad always was the wisest and best natured person that I knew.
I have my own children now. I know that if the day ever comes that one of them were to tell me they hated me I would break into a million pieces.