Father’s Day

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.

Much easier.

I understand.

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.

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Father’s Day — 16 Comments

  1. Love this. So truthful. The last time I spoke with Kevin, he was drunk and saying really inappropriate things… I also spoke up and reset some boundaries. I told him I would rather talk to him when he was sober. he hung up on me and never phoned again. I was sad to hear he died. Not because I would miss him…There was nothing to miss. He had been absent from my life for so long. I was sad because he had never been free and never lived his best life. You describe it perfectly. I mourned the loss of a father I never had, a man I never knew, a life that never was. I mourned what could have been, not what really was.
    I am thankful for the role he has played in my life, and the things I have learned as a result of having Kevin as a father. I am also thankful he gave me two very different and beautiful sisters. xoxo
    Hoy recently posted..faith is a choiceMy Profile

  2. Compassion and forgiveness is just about the greatest gift we can give others and ourselves. What you’ve done is admirable and I don’t think a lot of people could get past their own egos to get there. It shows a lot of inner strength.
    Carmel recently posted..ANYTHING BUT A DAY AT THE BEACHMy Profile

    • Hi Carmel, you are so sweet. Honestly, they are our natural states of being. All spiritual paths lead there, when we are willing. And you are right, it is the ultimate gift we give ourselves xxxx

  3. Oh Sarah – how this hits home! No, my father is not an alcoholic, and he’s alive and well and living about 30 minutes away. And yet I have had no communication with him for 7 years. You see, he’s an ass. Always has been and, I suspect, always will be. Our relationship was always rocky, as it was with all of the family. He treated my mom like crap for years and I could never understand why she, an otherwise strong woman, never left. Even she couldn’t explain it. It certainly wasn’t love, but more, I suspect, a fear of being alone. After she died in 2005, he re-married quickly and after my behavior pissed him off simply cut off communication. My younger brother, in a rare case of confrontation, was also “cut-off” , just another black sheep of the family. My older brother kept up contact, partially out of midwestern values and partially because in his words “it’s easy to hang up on someone from 3000 miles away”. A disturbing statement in it’s own right. Today I hosted lunch for my fantastic father-in-law and the rest of Jim’s family, along with my younger brother and his family and… it was perfect. I would never claim that I love him. I don’t even miss him, life being much less stressful when he’s not in it. I feel sorry for him, really. Sorry for someone who is so self-absorbed they alienate those around them. Sorry for myself for the father I didn’t have. Extraordinarily grateful for Jim’s amazing father (and family) for welcoming me with open arms. I forgave him long ago, and I think that is the key. I don’t think we have to keep people in our lives just because they’re family. Some people are simply destructive. But I think we need to forgive them for OUR sake, so that we can go on contentedly, knowing that we are at peace with our own soul. I am glad you made peace with your dad. I’m sorry it took his death to make it happen. Thank you for the lovely story. Families are so very complicated sometimes!
    Rhonda, recently posted..Timothy Lake ~ Yet AgainMy Profile

    • Rhonda, thank you so much for sharing about your own experiences with your father. Yes, families, and people are complicated! It helps to know that everyone is doing the best they can with what they have. Sometimes people’s best is not easy to understand, and we can just love them from a distance for the sake of our own hearts.
      Sending much love to you guys today! xxx

  4. Kind of ironic how some of the most difficult people in our lives turn out to be our greatest gifts, huh? Beautifully raw, Sarah, thank you.
    Ashlie recently posted..Smell Ya LaterMy Profile

  5. Beautiful and heartfelt writing as always Sarah.

    Although my Dad wasn’t an alcoholic I can relate to the feelings of longing for him to be the Father that he just couldn’t be to the forgiveness and acceptance and finally the shocking pain and sadness of losing him. Life is a sometimes painful but often beautiful journey of lessons and experiences and you articulate your so well.

    Thank you so much for sharing.
    sarah recently posted..Top Seattle Summer Festivals & EventsMy Profile

    • Thank YOU Sarah. Yes, I think many people can relate, and whilst our stories may be slightly different, it seems that the emerging theme is forgiveness = healing. Thanks so much for sharing too xxx

  6. This might be the only Father’s Day post I read that I could actually relate to. My dad was a wonderful, funny man – unless he was drinking and he was ALWAYS drinking. He left when I was a kid and I didn’t see him again for 10 years, when I found out he was dying from cancer related to alcoholism. Dad passed away in 2002 and I’m still figuring out how to forgive him. At least now I can say that the greatest gift he ever gave me was leaving, so I didn’t grow up surrounded by his craziness.

    Thanks for sharing your story – it made me feel less alone on this ridiculous holiday.
    KT recently posted..Coming HomeMy Profile

    • Hey KT, I appreciate your comment so much. That is a good place to start, being thankful he wasn’t around to put you through more hell. I began my journey of forgiveness there too. You will get there, promise xoxo

    • Thank you Karyn! Couldn’t agree more. I am very blessed for everything I have been given, ALL of it. Realising that has been the greatest gift and my pathway to healing xxx