One of the hardest things I ever did was standing up to my father and telling him he could not stay in my home.
I’d thought of courage as brave acts. But I came to see it as overcoming the fear of looking bad in others’ eyes.
After I married, Dad asked if he could stay with my husband and me while he was in our area. It seemed only sensible, but I had mixed feelings. He was an alcoholic, and the effects of this were fresh in mind. I knew the worry and fear when a parent can’t control himself, and his alternating self-pity and anger.
So I decided he couldn’t bring this problem into my home. I had to lay down one rule, hard as it was: he couldn’t drink in my home or come home drunk. I rehearsed, gathered my courage, standing up to my father and explained this to him. To my surprise he agreed and I sighed in relief, naively believing that would be the end of it.
When my father came in later, the slurred speech and familiar odor told me he’d gone back on his promise. I was surprised, then angry. This parent had expected me to follow basic rules of consideration he and my mom taught us, and he was ignoring the rules. How could I possibly handle this? My hands trembled and I shook with fear. My dad had been very strict with us and until this moment, I always tried to go along with him to avoid his anger or judgment.
Now, struggling to stand straight as he sensed my displeasure, he was ready to fight. It was the moment I had dreaded since I let him stay. I knew what I’d asked of him was right, and now had to stand by this decision or things would get worse. So I spoke a quiet prayer, blurted that he was drunk and he’d have to go to a motel.
He was more than upset. He used every argument in his lawyer’s arsenal, saying I was not upholding my Christian beliefs, he was alone and how could I turn him out? When he spoke of my beliefs, I felt an inner strength and knew in my heart I was doing the right thing. The Lemurian Philosophy had helped me deal with his alcoholism, not run from it, and now there was only one way to handle this very difficult situation, by standing up to my father. After a very tense moment, he left.
Later, Dad called to say he was proud of what I’d done. It would have been music to my ears if he’d been sober. But like so many times in my growing up years, he hadn’t changed. Yet my life changed forever. I would never accept my father’s drinking again. Until now, when I was afraid of what someone would think or say, or how they’d react, I’d bend the rules to avoid the upheaval I feared. But this experience helped me know I must do what’s right, even if it brings the reaction I fear most.
My relationship with my father changed. Though we never talked about that incident, he has treated me as an adult ever since, and never again has he expected me to accommodate his drinking. Having the confidence I needed for standing up to my father opened a bigger door, too. Today, when I feel something is truly wrong, I am not afraid to stand up and say no, no matter who appears to be in charge.
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