Some days I hold back things in my writing because I am concerned about the impact my words could have on my family members. Today is not that day.
Growing up with an alcoholic parent has clouded my idea of a healthy relationship. There is a general sense of dissatisfaction in my personality. There is a general sense of uneasiness of not feeling comfortable when things are going well. I am fully prepared to deal with chaos at any given moment. In fact, I have the tendency to lean in and create my own drama. I gained this from having my life on edge from the time of my earliest memories until I left my parent's house.
I remember sitting on the stairs with my brother in my foot pajamas. I must have been around three at the time and my brother was around eight. We were sitting on the top of the stairs listening to my parents argue in not so hushed tones. I was clutching a stuffed animal. We would get out of our beds and sit there some times. My parents were completely oblivious to the fact that we were both afraid of what we were hearing but too young to understand the implications. In agreement, we decided to go back to bed. At first, the arguements were infrequent but that changed as my father's drinking accerelated with the years.
Within two steps I could identify if my father was drunk. It was not unusual for him to get drunk two times per day. He would drink in the morning, come home and sleep it off, and return to work stopping for drinks on the way home. He would drink a mile from my parent's house so he would drive home on alcoholic autopilot. My mother would not let him drink in the house which was semi-absurd because of the amount of money he must have spent in bars. I would tense up every evening upon his arrival. Would he quietly get his food or would he start some sort of ridiculous argument based on his egotistical feelings of having been slighted somehow? I would just be waiting for some kind of upheaval on a daily basis. I learned to trust that no setting can be truly comfortable, including your home. Something is always bound to happen to fuck things up.
That addict gene, that desire to stay completely numb. I see that in myself. How he could work up to 80 hours per week loaded- that is a mystery to me. That feeling though of never being present, I understand this as an addict. I also understand what it is like to have someone tell you they love you but their actions show something completely different. When is it okay to believe someone loves you when they hurt and disappoint you nearly every day of your life? We would get brief reprieves that slowly faded over time. For while, my father would be sober on Sundays. When that stopped, we could look forward to his frequent business trips. When those ended, he would return with gifts and stories. There was that attraction and repulsion as I wished he was in my life but when he was I wished he was not there because it was full of pain and embarrassment. When he started getting drunk BEFORE work, as in I would see him at the bar as I took the bus to school in the morning, I went from embarrassed to angry.
The last straw came when he went into rehab when I was 16. I actually was foolish enough to believe my father was going to stop using his drug. I sat through and actually used the family therapy. A few days after he was discharged my father got drunk. This happened to be the night my mother's mother had a her fatal stroke and my mother needed to get to see her at the hospital. As my mother began throwing up and crying at the same time from stress, I saw that nothing in life could be trusted. When you need someone the most, they will never fail to disappoint you in some monumental way. After the horror of that scene died down, my parents proceeded to needle me about things I had said in the family therapy. And my new motto was born-
Fuck you, fuck this, fuck it. I didn't say it out loud but that is what I felt.
It was not much longer until I wanted to see what all the fuss it about with alcohol and drugs. Why can't I do it? I tried so hard to be "good" to be "perfect" so people would love me. I was stuffing my feelings with food. I was cutting myself. I was just fucking miserable. I was tired of trying to hold myself together. I wanted to let go. When I did those drugs, I breathed a sigh of relief. AH yes. Freed of the burden of self. Later, the solution became the problem. I didn't care that I was fat or from this fucked up situation or awkward as we all feel as a teenager. I felt as if I finally found what I needed and god damn that shit was GOOD.
I am still never settled. I don't use drugs anymore but I always question happiness. I always have that feeling as if something was missing. The personal work I have put into my recovery has done tremendous good but so many things have happened since that night on the stairs. I have trouble connecting with other people. I have trouble connecting with myself. The relationship I have with your readers is authentic because I know I can tell you anything and not be judged. I hope you can find some connection today, some connection in my writing.