I am a dust speck...
It was hard to talk in The Place, and that's all they wanted me to do...talk talk talk all the time. How did this make me feel, how did that make me feel, and what did I think about that?
And god forbid I slipped and said something personal...they latched on to that like a dog with a bone.
For some reason they kept going back to my childhood, wanting to talk about me growing up with an alcoholic father.
It took a very long time for me to even admit that much about my family... and going into detail about it? NO. NEVER.
But they just kept at me, and kept at me.
Denial is a funny thing. I always knew, objectively, that my family was different. When my dad was out in the field, my mom, my brother and I breathed easy - we were happy. It wasn't like that when my dad was home.
So even when my dad missed my high school and college graduations, and several birthdays, and dropped off the face of the earth for a few years - even then, I still couldn't quite admit to myself that there was a problem.
And then one December he showed up again, terribly skinny, full of apologies as usual, but this time, with a different story, something about crack cocaine.
I distinctly remember now how my mind skipped right over that part. I understand now - that's how denial works. You hear it, you can even repeat it back to someone, but you don't really believe it.
The next month, in January 2001, my grandmother received a phone call from my uncle. He was at the University Hospital trauma center downtown, and he was calling because my father had been shot.
My brother, sister-in-law, Dwayne and I rushed downtown to the hospital. Uncle Gary met us down there...he had no idea how it happened. We were sitting in the E/R waiting room when the detectives came in.
One of the detectives said, "Do you know anything about your father and his association with A? Your father was found with This Substance in his possession."
That's when my world came crashing down. I don't remember anything else the detectives said. I didn't care what they said. I was broken. I had just come to the realization that my father was an alcoholic and a drug addict.
So you'd think after an epiphany like that, something would change, right? But nothing did, really, except for maybe my perception of my world.
I sat in the hospital room for days, waiting for my dad to wake up. It took a very long time. The doctors said it took longer than it should have because they had to keep him sedated due to dt's.
My brother and I had a visit while we were waiting...from Al-Anon. It seems everyone but me knew my father had a problem. They gave us literature. I was very excited but John said he wasn't going to any groups. Oh.
When my dad woke up, I told him about all the people who had visited and all the things they said. I explained his body was clean now and the hardest part, the dt's, was over.
My dad said he wasn't an alcoholic, he could quit whenever he wanted. He said he knew what an alcoholic was, because his father was one, and he was nothing like him. Oh.
So now my dad has a bullet lodged in his back, but he's otherwise recovered. We rarely talk. It's hard to talk to someone on the phone when their speech is so slurred from drinking you can't understand what they're saying.
My brother outright refuses to speak with my father at all. I've forgiven dad for what happened in our childhood. I don't think my brother ever will.
I don't know why The Place wanted to hear things like this. It's my story, but not really. It was just a turning point in my life...when the scales fell from my eyes and I saw some things as they really were.
I'm still probably blind in a lot of other areas.