You learn to put your ear to a door before you enter that room. If he’s in there, and you don’t feel like fighting, you wait for him to leave. It never mattered that I won every fight with him, I still cried when it was over wishing for a different life.
I know it sounds silly, but I actually didn’t want him murdered. My mother could have easily. My father would have in a heartbeat (he was gone, serving in the Marines). Slug fests at dinner is one thing, but I didn’t want to witness an execution, didn’t want my younger siblings growing up without a dad. Also, there’s Stockholm syndrome. I never knocked my step dad out but I dropped him at least twice, skirmished regularly. I’ll never forget dropping him and have limp away and have my 17 year old self apologizing behind him: why? I think there’s a deep fear around disrupting the hell you know and I was definitely thinking the unknown would be worse.
I went to college anyway, appear like normal white kid. Except I did get pulled in by campus police for knocking out someone who got in my face. I’m grown, a priest, a Chaplain Candidate 2LT in the National Guard, and I’m still afraid of getting in fights and possibly losing what I’ve worked hard for. I let this aggression out in MMA and BJJ, which doesn’t feel entirely appropriate. And avoid places with assholes- certain bars, sporting events, motherfuckers wearing grunt style t shirts who are thinking about saying something stupid.
In many ways I still feel like my ear is to the door.