Let's talk about sobriety, being creative, and how the arms of the octopus that is life challenge us daily to become better people.

6.20.2010

Father's Day

Father's Day is very difficult for me. My dad and I haven't spoken in almost 4 years. I have carried anger, resentment, confusion, and deep sadness with me since then.

My father is an alcoholic. He was never violent. He never yelled or harshly punished. He never stumbled around obviously drunk. He held great jobs, was popular in the community, had lots of friends, and raised money for charities. But, he withheld love and affection, guilted, shamed, humiliated, and manipulated me. I was in high school when I put the pieces together and confronted him about his alcoholism. I gave him an ultimatum: Get help or I'm gone.  When he wouldn't get help or acknowledge the pain I was in I stayed true to my threat. I had the school ban him from my graduation, from my last Choir Concert preformance, from my last Show Choir performace, and from our last competition. When he would call I would ignore it. When he wrote letters I threw them away, unopened.

When putting my own pieces together and realizing and admitting that I am an alcoholic I thought it was impossible! How could I be? That would make me just like the man I have refused to have any contact with for so long! But there was no denying it in the long run. I am absolutely alcoholic. What a blessing this has turned out to be.

Through my own alcoholism I have realized that my dad wasn't choosing booze over me. He doesn't love it more than he loves me. He is an alcoholic. He has a progressive disease that tricks him, lies to him, coaxes him deeper and deeper into the darkness. I made choices myself that made no sense all because my disease told me to. Because of this, I have forgiven him. I understand that he was only being the best father he was capable of being. He was doing the best he knew how.

Because of my alcoholism I am able to be freed from the despair I mentioned earlier. I understand. I have forgiven.

Someday I may call him and share all of this. For now I am going to give thanks for the newfound freedom I have been blessed with.  I now fully understand the saying, "GRATEFUL recovering alcoholic".

8 comments:

  1. I'm glad you're back :)

    My dad is also an alcoholic, he may never get help - and thanks to admitting my own alcoholism I am able to forgive him for that and just love him as long as I can.

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  2. I'm so happy to see you post! And I love what you say here. It's a gift to get some compassion and understanding about how the disease works - it doesn't make up for your pain, but it may help you let some of your painful childhood go.

    And you're breaking the cycle. Good for you.

    Keep posting! I miss it when you're not here!

    -Ellie

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  3. This was the biggest obstacle for me in admitting I was an alcoholic because my mom is one, too.

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  4. This hits home in a strange way with me. My ex-husband and daughter's father is a very sick alcoholic. I left him when I was 19 and took our toddler daughter with me.

    My daughter is now 25 and her dad is still a raging alcoholic. He got sober in December of last year only to relapse after 90 days. She is heartbroken. Again. It's so painful to watch. I'm just glad she has a sober mom now. It must have been hell when both of her parents were deep in the disease.

    Thank you for posting about this. I like reading about this from the child's perspective. I hope my daughter can find peace with this someday soon.

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  5. You just told my story! I pleaded with my dad when I was 20 years old (he as about 50 at the time) that he stop drinking. He looked at me as though I was asking him to stop breathing. I walked away from him and for the next 30 years tried not to become like him. During that time, I also carried the pained belief that my dad didn't love me enough to stop drinking. He died of alcoholism about 15 years ago.

    Then when I was 48, my own son hit his bottom. He was 15 and he couldn't stop drinking or using. He began treatment and I was supposed to stop drinking in order to set an example for my son. Amazingly, I found myself being like my dad: there was simply not a chance in hell that I could stop drinking that day! And I didn't. I kept drinking for another 10 months. And my son evenually got clean and sober about 5 months into treatment.

    A few months ago, my son turned 25 years old and the month prior to that he picked up his 9 year chip. I won't be picking up my 9 year chip until October 20th of this year.

    I encourage you to reach out to your dad when the time feels right. When you can see him (and yourself) with eyes of compassion, understanding and loving-kindness. Whether he's found the solution yet or not. You may be the only Big Book he ever sees.

    Take care!

    Mike L.

    MikeLRecovery.blogspot.com

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  6. Thank you to all that shared. I was very hesistant to publish this post but am so very glad I did. I have gained much hope from you all. Thank you again.

    Love and Light,
    Sadie

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  7. Would love to see you follow-up with how this story between you and your father progresses. What took me far too long to learn (actually, that's not true: it took what it took) that others (in particular, my alcoholic father and my long standing crazy (and more recently Alzheimer progressing) mother) cannot hurt me. They simply can't hurt me.

    They can say or do certain things which I mistakenly attribute to be the "cause" of my pain and hurt, but the truth is nothing they say or do actually hurts me. What hurts me is how I interpret what they say or do... And most often, my interpretation is mistakenly based on the idea that something out there is the cause of what's in here: in me. That mistaken interpretation then leads me, an alcoholic, to think that my inside problem will be solved by some outside solution: whether that be "a" drink of alcohol or that other person becoming someone different, someone who does and says what I want them to say.

    The truth of the matter is they are doing and saying what they need to say -- they are doing the best they can with what they've got. "We did then what we knew how to do. When we knew better, we did better." (Maya Angelou)

    The trick is accepting these people as they are. If they are an alcoholic (which, by the way, is what we are too!) then they are sick. If they are still drinking, it's because they don't know of any viable (that's the key!) option that will actually work for them. In that state of mind: all they can do is drink. Your condemning them (in silence or thru yelling or any other way of communicating your judgment of them) will do nothing except to reaffirm their already deep sense of guilt (over what they are doing) and shame (over who they are).

    Cultivate compassion for your father. Think of him as a newcomer standing just outside the door of recovery. Live out your own recovery as best you can: let it be as attractive (and honest!) as possible. And the most attractive is where you are being you, without bullshit and with all the complexities of an octupus.

    Take care!

    Mike L.

    p.s. By the way, this is exactly what my son did when he was just beginning his recovery at 15 years old. His work on himself in his recovery was what in very short fashion (5 months and 10 days to be exact!) allowed me to get sober myself. He was oblivious to my alcoholism because he was concerned almost exclusively on his own desperate need for recovery. He accused me of nothing. He did, the last night of my drinking, smell liquor oozing from my soul and simply asked me "Dad, have you been drinking?" He did that with no anger or condemnation. He smelled alcohol and I was the only one there. So he asked. I lied and answered "No.". I couldn't admit the truth because I thought if I were to confess that sin, I'd have to stop drinking. AND I SIMPLY COULD NOT STOP DRINKING!!!! He didn't challenge my lie. He had to ask, but that's all he had to do. He let it go and walked away.

    I woke up sober the next morning. Realized I couldn't stop because I was an alcoholic. That it was a disease. And I could do something about this disease: I could do what Pat was doing. I've done that now for a little over nine years. Pat's done it for 5 months and 10 days longer than that.

    While the disease of alcholism is genetic in nature, it's equally true that recovery is contagious. It can spread through our family and friends like a wildfire!

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  8. It is a informative post , thanks for sharing

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