The resounding message in my newest novel, I Have People, is: losing your temper, blowing up at your loved ones--or anyone for that matter--is NOT okay. It's NOT okay. It's not acceptable and no one should accept being treated in an abusive manner. And just for the record, yelling is abusive.
Excerpt from I Have People:
Holly had never seen Cal this serious. It took her back. He hadn’t hit her, or thrown her around like she thought he would. “If you can have a conversation without getting angry then, yes, I’ll stay and talk to you. If you lose your temper, I’m outta here. But you have to let me go. I can’t talk to you while you’re holding me down. Either I’m here of my own free will or I’m leaving. It’s one or the other, Cal.”
Cal slowly released his grasp on one arm and then the other. He moved off her and they both sat up. He leaned against the wall and she leaned against the bed frame—facing each other. Secretly, Holly breathed a sigh of relief. She’d thought for sure that Cal would be beating the hell out of her right about now. To her surprise, he wasn’t. He wanted to talk. Go figure.
“I can’t live like this, Cal,” she told him straight out. “I’m scared of you. I shouldn’t be scared of my husband.”
“I would never hit you, Holly. I’m not a monster.”
“But you hurt me, Cal. You pull my hair, you push me around, you’re rough with me. It’s the same as hitting someone. Can you really not see that?”
“I know you’re right. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to do it. I don’t want to do it. I can’t seem to help myself.”
“But that’s just it. You can help it.”
He stared her down, his eyes never leaving hers. “Please don’t leave me, Holly. I don’t want to be alone.”
His heartfelt plea touched her. “Will you get help?”
“Yeah, you know, counseling, anger management, anything that will help you to control your temper.”
Cal scoffed and looked away.
“Will you stay if I agree to get help?”
Holly knew staying with Cal was not a wise decision. In fact, it was as risky as swimming with sharks.
“I love you, Holly. Please.”
He was her husband. Maybe she owed him a second chance. Maybe they could still make this work. She’d married him and she couldn’t give up at the first sign of trouble. “All right. I’ll stay. But only on the condition that you seek help. I won’t stand for being yelled at because you have five ice cubes in your glass or because your fork is the wrong size. Understood?”
She wasn’t done. “And if you ever hurt me again, I will press charges, Cal.” A few tears escaped and drizzled down her cheeks. She was losing her nerve. Anger flashed behind his eyes, but he quickly hid it.
“Do you love me, Holly?”
Her hesitation made him blink his eyes heavily. “Yes. I wouldn’t have married you if I didn’t. But, Cal, saying ‘I love you,’ isn’t enough. You have to show it in your actions. And your actions tell me that you hate me and have very little regard for my feelings whatsoever. Your behavior is not okay, Cal. It’s not okay,” she said vehemently.
He was quiet for at least a full minute. Tension filled the room.
“I’m sorry, Holly. I really am.”
“I know you are, Cal. But sometimes sorry just isn’t enough.”
“So you’ll stay?”
“For now. Trial run.”“Thank you, baby.”