Father’s day is tough for me. Not only is it a day that I reflect on my some what estranged relationship with my dad, but also the anniversary of my mother’s death. 5 years ago she was found dead from an overdose in a motel room in Calgary. Sober for a few days before she headed to a friend’s funeral and I guess in a moment of ‘celebration’…. she used. She thought she could handle it one more time and it was her last.
My mother, Granny as my kids called her, never got to meet my youngest child who was born weeks after she passed. She also will not get to see her grandkids; graduate, win sports events, hear them laugh or cry, sing or tell knock knock jokes, watch them sleep or tell them stories. Drugs stole this from her and her addictions stole all the precious ‘could have beens’ from us.
Then there is my father. He struggled his whole life with alcoholism and a life of reckless decision making mixed with extremely poor choices. This hurt him and it hurt me.
always mostly close with my dad when he was sober. He worked his programs, tried hard to stay sober, but would inevitably fall off the wagon. Life was a struggle for him and he was stuck in a pattern that hurt himself and those he loved.
When I was in my 20’s I maintained a relationship with both my parents and saw my dad almost daily. I started having kids in my 30’s and things changed. My mom slipped back into heavy street drug use and my dad fell off the wagon…no he set fire to the wagon and left a wake of broken relationships. I wanted to protect my kids from everything and that included potential harm caused by their grand parents. So, this meant keeping them at arms length.
I struggle with guilt every time I attempt a phone call with my father or send a letter or stop in at his work when I cruise through his town. My knowledge of who and how he has hurt others besides me is too big….too vivid….too much and I am at a loss as to how to handle the whole thing.
To stay sane I stay focused on something greater than my hurts and can find comfort in the fact that there has been much to learn in all of this.What have I learned?
- I am not my parents.
- I can celebrate the fact that I have stopped the cycle of abuse and neglect.
- Self care is not selfish and is far more important than trying to focus on the addicts in our lives.
- There is nothing I could have said or done to change my parents. They believed the lie that numbing would remove the pain or provide freedom. It never does.
- My parents had experienced things that I will never really comprehend and were doing ‘the best’ they could. It is a big job to hide the messy emotional life we live and my dad had endured some terrible abuse as a child. Their best at times was addiction…. it was the most honest thing about them and their messy life.
- Standing in judgement does not serve me ,in fact it steals my joy.
- Being angry does not erase hurt.
- Numbing erases pain, but it also erases joy and robs us of precious relationships
- My parents may have written the beginning of my story, but I get to write the middle and the ending
- I may (or may not) regret the distance I keep my father, but I will never regret protecting my children. They deserve it!