I just remembered it is Father’s Day. This day has filled me with dread and ickiness for years. The charade I used to play at school when it came time to make the cards I would never send, for I never knew where to send them; the times I sat with the phone in my hand, wanting to call but being terrified of what I would find at the other end.
I simply never knew how to ‘handle’ the fact that my dad wasn’t in my life, to reconcile the emotions of wanting him to be better than he was capable of being.
I loved my Dad. I still do.
I made my peace with him at his funeral. In July of 2012 we happened to be home in Perth for two weeks, between China and Mexico.
My Mum delivered the news to me and held me in the kitchen while we wept. For what was lost. For what never was.
I never gave up hope for him. That he would get sober and become the person I always knew he was. Smart, strong, funny as fuck.
We drove the five hours on a lonely road toward the small coastal town of Geraldton where he had spent the last ten years or so. I never visited. He wanted me to, but in my fledgling sobriety I couldn’t face it or him.
Alcoholism is an ugly disease. “The Great Remover,” my first AA sponsor called it.
Getting sober gave me great compassion for my father. The first year of recovery was so hard for me I couldn’t conceive how difficult it would have been for him to try. Easier to disappear.
I also understand the agony of being trapped by oneself. There is nothing more painful than that. My dad was trapped his whole life. In fear, in anger, in loneliness.
He suffered more than any of us ever did.
The last time I spoke to my dad, he was drunk. He said something that offended me and I let rip. I had never in my life said those things to him. I unloaded all my pain of abandonment over him. He hung up.
Strangely, I didn’t feel bad at all. Very unlike me. I felt amazing. I got it out and he wouldn’t remember.
A win, win.
I didn’t feel guilty when I went to pay my respects to my father’s body in the brown shiny box inside the Christian church. I felt at peace. I felt relief, for him and for me and for all of us.
I knew that it was part of the plan, that I wouldn’t value the gift of recovery I had been given if it weren’t for him. I was so grateful for everything he had given me – the ability to see first hand what alcoholism really looks like.
It aint frosted glasses and happy hour.
I think about my Dad often now, and none of the resentment I once felt exists. I am not angry at him for what he never was, for he became my greatest teacher.
I love you Dad.
Happy father’s day. I made you a card and sent it up in my dreams, for now I know where to find you.