Alcoholism was not a word I understood when I was a kid. Even though I saw my father drink beer every day, I didn’t comprehend that he had a problem. I never saw it as anything else than normal.
My dad was my hero. I loved him with everything that I was. He smothered me with hugs and kisses. We watched cartoons every Saturday morning. He bought me snacks and candies and happy meals. All I remember is good moments with my dad. There’s only one bad incident that stayed in my head, which I talk about in another blog post Remembering My Childhood. Other than that, he was the best dad anyone could ask for (in my eyes).
It’s so hard to grow up and realize how wrong you were. Maybe he was a good dad, maybe he did everything he could to be a good dad. But he failed at being a good husband. See, alcoholism is evil. It takes over your life and destroys everyone around you. I know that an addict doesn’t realize the damage they do, they don’t intentionally try to hurt you. Addiction is not easy, and definitely not easy to overcome. Addicts need the substance to survive, their bodies and minds need it to function.
I still don’t know why my dad started drinking, I know something must’ve hurt him, something broke him and he eased the pain with drugs and alcohol.
His marriage failed because he was abusive to my mother, he couldn’t keep a job, he let addiction ruin his life and ours. It only got worse when my mother decided to leave him. That’s when I saw who he truly was. I was already old enough to grasp the truth of how he treated my mom. I started hearing all the stories of how he abused my mother and how he would threaten her if she thought of leaving him.
I still loved my dad. A part of me was still denying the facts. I was an angry, selfish teenager, that didn’t understand why I had to leave him and my home. Why did I have to leave all my things to live with relatives sharing a room with my mother? I lied to myself believing that my mother was the bad guy.
I did everything I thought possible to go back with my dad, but I only got to stay a few days. It wasn’t a good idea. An alcoholic wasn’t the best person to look after a teenage girl. He wasn’t even capable of caring for himself.
I learned to drive when I was twelve because my dad let me borrow his car. I got my first traffic ticket in 1998. A ticket that I would pay off many, many years later! I started to smoke and drink and eventually started dating boys.
After a few months of leaving our home, my dad came to tell us that he sold the property. A property that didn’t even belong to him. What I knew was that my grandfather, who had passed away, had bought a land big enough for two homes. This land was for two of my cousins and myself, but my aunt was in jail and my father was an alcoholic. My grandfather thought it would be best to put the land under my other aunt’s husband’s name. Not the one in jail, because she was also an addict. This is what I knew was true. My father had many siblings, they all thought they could sell the land and divide the money between them. Since my mother and I couldn’t do anything, they eventually sold the land and gave my dad a few thousand dollars to sign.
His disease didn’t help him realize what he was doing, he was left homeless and living in his car a few months later. When the money was gone, he was begging outside the stores and stealing anything he could to buy alcohol. I remember he would steal packages of meat from my cousin’s house to go sell it. We caught him stealing tools, jewelry, movies, basically anything he could get his hands on.
Before my mother knew she was sick, my father moved in with us at our new apartment. He was there when my baby was born and when my mother was diagnosed with cancer. I knew he was trying his best to fix things. He wanted his family back. He needed us.
When my mom got really sick, my dad stayed with me in our apartment. He was still drinking, day in and day out, he was still stealing anything valuable enough to sell for a few dollars. He would even steal my baby’s toys! I didn’t drink much, it was easier to smoke pot or take pills. Then I started with cocaine. We even shared drugs and got high together with my friends.
I was a teenager, I thought he was the coolest dad ever. We were both drowning our sorrows with any mind-altering substance we could afford. Of course, my mother never knew this, my daughter was with my aunt, so I had the freedom to do as I pleased.
We were such a mess.
After my mother passed, things got worse for my dad. Now that I write about it, I realize how much he was hurting. All the guilt and the loss must’ve hit him pretty hard. I never stopped to think about his pain, because I was so lost myself. I was so busy trying to figure out what I was going to do without my mother. How was I going to survive with two babies! My father was the last person on my mind.
I feel really bad about not being able to help him. I had to leave and I didn’t look back.
I really don’t know where he ended up living. I didn’t see him often since I was living in Mexico. I just heard about him still being a drunk and stealing stuff.
When I came back with my husband and pregnant with my third baby, my father moved in with us. It wasn’t the best idea. He was constantly fighting with my husband.
Living with an alcoholic is not easy. Loving him was so heartbreaking. I’m just realizing that I never got to know who my dad really was. Now he can barely remember anything! It is so sad that the only thing I know about him is that he was an alcoholic.
After my husband left, my dad and I got in a huge argument. He pushed me and I fell on a coffee table while trying to get up and leave he grabbed me by the throat and shoved me against a wall. My little girl was watching everything. My boys were in my room. In that moment of fear, I saw who he had been to my mother. I had to defend myself and I punched him as hard as I could. He was so drunk and high, he fell hitting the kitchen counter with his face. It gave me time to grab my kids and lock us up in my room.
He called the police and I was arrested in front of my children. I had to find someone to pick them up and take care of them. I was lucky enough to have someone to bail me out. I got home to find out that he had sold all my valuable things. Everything was gone! Even the food in my fridge.
I couldn’t believe what a monster he was.
This arrest still haunts me to this day. It’s an embarrassment to me for employers to see a felony come up in my record, saying it was an assault to an elderly/child/or disabled. The charges were dropped but the arrest is still there. I know I can expunge it, but it’s not an easy process.
I have forgiven my dad for anything he did in the past. I have loved him even through the pain.
But alcoholism is no joke. It’s a disease that destroys anything around it. I could go on about things he did while intoxicated, but I’ll end up writing a book! They don’t matter anymore.
I am grateful for his sobriety. It’s been about seven or more years that he hit rock bottom and decided to quit drinking. I am so proud of him staying sober. He would even see me drinking and not drink himself. I know it must’ve been a hard time, addiction is not something you can overcome on your own, but he did it for us! He did it for my children and me. I am grateful to still have him in our lives.
My eyes don’t see that person you used to be, I only see the person you have become.
I love you, dad.
Today and always your baby girl.