Sunday, October 14, 2012

On Being a Daughter of an Alcoholic

As you will soon be able to tell, I wrote this post months ago. It's been on my heart a lot lately and I felt it was time to share. With Squishy's due date approaching and only one grandfather figure in his/her life...I just needed to reflect on why that is. It makes me sad...and you'll see why... (This is a long and wordy post...but it all needed to be said).

I don’t know if I’ll ever have the courage to hit publish and actually post this on my blog. I sit at my computer in my dark kitchen on the night of May 8, 2012 as the rain is falling outside and the light of the super moon is gone, as if God knew I would be feeling the darkness tonight. My boys are asleep and I’ve never felt so alone as I do right now. I’ve texted my brother and my mom and my sister-in-law and of course they are all sleeping away in dreamland, as to be expected near 11:30 PM on a weeknight. 

I had this “feeling” at bedtime. Jay was home early from seeding because of the rain so we watched a movie and were ready for bed shortly after 11. I had a little idea pop into my head about using a quote on my blog for next week that my mom posted on Facebook. 

“I never lie to someone I trust, I never trust someone who has lied to me.” 

I was hoping that if I did that he would get the message, that it would somehow reach out and shake him from his computer screen. My “feeling” was right. I knew I would have trouble sleeping tonight, I just couldn’t shake it. With a nearly 15 week old fetus [at the time] pressing down on my bladder I decided to make one last trip to the bathroom. As I settled back into bed and rolled over, I noticed my phone light up on my nightstand with a new email message. From him. My dad. The "him" I am talking about...

Out of respect, mainly for my mom, I had never talked about my dad on this blog, until I posted this. Sure there have been pictures over the years and stories of family gatherings. But not of what is really happening. You may or may not have noticed that as of pretty much the last year, I never even mention him anymore. Not since last Christmas. It’s always going to “my mom’s house” or “mom is coming over” it hasn’t been “my parents” for quite some time now. 

His email, was essentially this: “Bought a house outside of Canada, retiring next week. Have a nice life. Love, Dad

That’s it.

He’s been my father for over 29 years. And that’s it?! That’s all I got? But you know what overtakes his role of being my father?  The grandfather to my child(ren)? The thing that has been an absolute poison in his life? His alcoholism. His addiction. I have no idea how long he’s been an alcoholic. Years? Decades? I don’t know. But I discovered it firsthand over 2 years ago and I’ve been battling my own demons of being a daughter of an alcoholic. It’s a family disease, and I never knew that until I realized how awful alcohol can be.

I am not going to dive into all the details, because I don’t want to, and that part I feel truly is only my business. But what I will tell you, is that chance after chance, and trying to trust that my dad was sober and stay sober, and catching him in lie after lie after lie...I made a heart-breaking decision to cut him out of my life, mainly for the protection of Braden at the end of last winter. I want to make it very clear that my dad never physically hurt me or my family, it was all emotional damage done. You see, he’s a closet drinker, and even worse than that, he lies about it, making it impossible for me to trust him, and particularly impossible to trust him being around my child(ren).

So now he has officially chosen alcohol over his kids and grandkids. I feel so abandoned, even though he hasn’t really been actively in my life for over half a year. I’ve been praying for him, that he would have a revelation and wake up one day and say to himself “what am I doing?” My brother and I have made it very clear to him that while he is still drinking, we both cannot trust him and cannot allow him to be in our lives, and especially in our children’s lives. I have always been very open about wanting nothing but the best for him, and that I would always be here to pick up the phone if he wanted to talk, until this summer.

It was my bottom line. I had to. If there is no bottom line, then it’s almost guaranteed that nothing will change, on part of the addict in your life. 

Now he’s leaving. Just like that. Or is it a lie? A last ditch attempt to suck me and my brother back into his life? Turns out, it was a lie, of course. An attempt to suck us all into a big game. But now in the present time, he has moved out of province and I haven't spoken to him since the beginning of June.
What will I tell Braden? He’s too young to understand, but what if he looks back at pictures of my dad and asks me “where’s that Papa?” What do I tell him? I think what hurts me the most is that I had an amazing childhood, as twisted as that sounds. It was amazing, in fact. I had a wonderful, supportive, loving dad...and I will never forget the dad that he was. But, that does not excuse him from the monster he has turned into today. He cannot rest on his laurels and expect that all the good years make up for these last 2 awful years.

I just live with such sadness in my heart that Braden will never get to know the dad that he was and the grandpa that I know he could be and started out to be the first almost 2 years of Braden's life. My father will never meet Squishy. He doesn’t care enough to change, or he would, and that hurts me so badly. 

I know that alcoholism is a disease. An addiction. There isn’t a magical pill that he can take every day to stay sober and to fix whatever emotional/mental/anger problems that come with his addiction. But I cannot understand for the life of me why he hasn’t done anything and everything to change. To stop. If my children and grandchildren were on the line, if I was told I would never have a relationship with them if I didn’t stop my addiction, I would stop at NOTHING to make sure I got better and to prove to myself and to my family that I could stop because that’s how much I love them.

I guess it’s just not that simple. I get the disease. I work with the disease almost every single shift at work. I have seen a 29 year old man nearly die in front of my eyes due to alcoholism related illness. It’s not easy. I know. There are relapses and recovery periods. You are ALWAYS an alcoholic, but you can be in recovery and be sober for the rest of your life if you chose.

I started going to Al-Anon meetings not long after I discovered my dad’s problem, at the advice of a pastor. It helped, it helped a lot. I like the literature, but the group meetings just weren’t “for me”. I know that this is not my fault, how I choose to completely up to me. Right now, I feel so much better just typing this all out. I know there’s nothing I could have done to change the outcome of this situation. It’s all my dad’s choice.

I gave him hope.
I gave him a chance to be back in my life if he could stop drinking and stay sober.
He chose poorly.
He didn't like my "rules" and is full of anger and hate towards me and my family.
Pointing fingers and refusing to take any responsibility.

I will be open to letting him back in my life if he is sober and if he can prove to me that I can trust him...but he's showing no signs that he truly understands that or even wants that...and if he ever does, it will take a LOT. As I said in this post, the man that used to be my dad is essentially dead. All I have are memories.

I will pray every single day that he will “let go and let God”, give in to his Higher Power, and fight the demons of alcoholism.