Sunday, September 8, 2013

I hate boxes, part three

I am a dust speck...

It was hard to talk in The Place, and that's all they wanted me to 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.


  1. Thanks for the Calvin wisdom at the top there.

    Wow. Heavy story.

    1. You're welcome! I love Calvin&Hobbes...

      I know, right? And this is part three, you should see parts one and two...LOL.

    2. Thanks for reading! I really think I'm done with the heavy stuff for a while, I think this was the kind of wrap up. :)

  2. Sometimes therapy is like being a smoldering log. That's when they take a poker and knock a blaze out of us. Not nice, but occasionally necessary. You're a brave woman. You wrote it well. It will help others too.

    1. You seem very "wholesome"...I'd expect you to be more jaded about life...a chip on your shoulder type person.

    2. Hi Susie,
      Well...I have struggled with depression my whole life, but, yes, even still, I don't have a chip on my shoulder about anything. I have the best family in the world (mom's side of the family); I'm very lucky.

  3. This resonated with me in several ways, namely due to my relationship with my father. thank you for writing this.

    1. Hi Keith,
      You're welcome...
      I still hope for my relationship with my dad to improve one day...

  4. A dog with a bone can always be persuaded to drop it if you show them poop lol they do try and drag everything out.

  5. LOL...too funny...but, really?
    Or were you kidding?
    I'm very gullible.

  6. I think it is often frighteningly hard to overcome our parents sometimes, but it is a worthy goal and effort. Understanding that they are flawed, sometimes fatally is easy to say, but very hard to accept and understand. Their flaws are not your flaws and making your way in life in a better fashion than them is a difficult process.

    Having grown up in a very difficult household, where one of my parents was very crazy I can attest to how difficult it can be.

    Sending you good thoughts.

    1. Thank you so much, Laoch...and to you as well.

  7. Michelle, I'm so sorry. My husband's dad is a self-destructive alcoholic and his brother is now in prison for possession of drugs and firearms. Those kinds of situations with family make you feel so utterly helpless and numb. How do you save a life?

    I am just so, so sorry. My heart goes out to you and I congratulate you on your courage to write honestly about these experiences.

    1. Thank you so much, Suze. That's pretty much exactly how I feel now...helpless and numb. It helps to know I'm not the only one. Thanks so much for your encouragement.

  8. Michelle, you told this so beautifully. It reads like a book -- there's so much.

    Who is Grace?

    1. Hi Peaches,
      Thank you so very much, that's so kind of you to say.

      Do you know you're the first person, in my nine years of having this blog, to ask me that question?

      It's both easy and difficult to answer. Grace was a dream of something that didn't happen; grace is also a blessing you receive that you didn't necessarily deserve. I wanted to remember both...blessings given and blessings taken away.

  9. My goodness, this was beautiful. I can't imagine what that would be like--finally coming to that realization about a parent. I remember the day my mom made the bath water too warm, and I complained like always, but she apologized and put in some cold water. I was shocked. Mom could make mistakes? (I was 6.)

    1. Hi Crystal,
      Thank you so much! I remember my mom being strong and perfect when I was growing up even though I know she...probably...wasn't perfect. LOL... I wish my daughter had had a mother like mine!
      : )

    2. I wish my daughter had had a mother like mine!