Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day Four: Forgiveness Part Two.

Something you have to forgive someone for.

This one is heavy. This one is going to suck to write. A lot. I have to forgive my father for being an Alcoholic. Which is huge, since my reaction to his drinking has always been anger. I've been angry at my dad for being an alcoholic since before I realized he was an alcoholic.

The complex part of things is he has always been a functional alcoholic. He went to work, provided us with the basics, and even spent time with us on the weekends. He taught us right from wrong as well as any high school graduate with trade school training could do. He took us to mass every Sunday and Grandmas's every Sunday afternoon for supper without fail. He projected the epitome of lower-middle class fatherhood. He has never met a stranger, and is friendly as you can imagine.

Yet my fondest memories with my dad were the Saturday afternoons I'd go with him to do his "sign ups". There I would sit, in smoky VFW and Legion Tap Rooms where I would spend a few hours playing songs on the jukebox, drinking Shirley Temple's and eating popcorn. It took me until I was about 22 to realize this wasn't normal quality time with a parent. I was getting impatient one day and a poured the rest of a can of beer into a clear glass with about 4 inches of golden liquid in it (I assumed they were both beer and was trying to speed up the process). Nope, it was whiskey. My dad sort of laughed at me for it, and downed it anyway.

I was never physically abused (and for that I am so grateful) but there was a great deal of emotional/psychological abuse. There was a time he was really wasted one afternoon when I was in high school. We got into an argument about something or other (which was usually a combo of three things: the speed at which I talked, him being hard of hearing AND being intoxicated) and I got scared. So scared I locked myself in the bathroom, crying. When asked why I had locked myself in the bathroom, I told him he was scaring me and he proceeded to scream at the top of his lungs on the other side of the door about how could I ever think he would lay a finger on me? He would NEVER do that. And he never did, but I can't count the amount of times things resulted in screaming and crying. I would say at least once a week during my teenage years and I witnessed it earlier than that, while my older brother still lived at home.

Since I moved out and we've all gotten older, there have been multiple times he's almost drank himself to death. The first is what made me finally realize he is an Alcoholic. The last time it came out that he switched to vodka because my mom wouldn't be able to smell it on him (whiskey was always his drink of choice with a beer....or four) and the people at the bar thought he was having a stroke before he lost consciousness.

I do not want to get that call one day....that he is gone because of booze. So even though I know, for a fact, my anger doesn't stop the drinking, I cling to it, because I don't know what else to be about it because it is so frustrating and I'm so stubborn (so much like him) about things.

The anger I feel about it is dumb. I know its a disease, I know it is so much harder than just stopping. I know he is now retired after working over 35 years and he doesn't know what to do with himself. I know there is probably some mental health issues he has and has never confronted. I know I have to forgive him for it, for being loaded most evenings of my childhood, for the memories of my parents fighting about it, resulting in him walking to the bar a few blocks from our house, for putting my mother through dealing with him all these years, its just hard. Hard to let go of anger I have been brewing for over half my life.

He hasn't drank since the last "episode" with the vodka (as far as I've been told) so I'm hoping things stay that way. Although it is very hard to be optimistic when he has "quit" more times than I can count and he always goes back and he never tries AA.

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