Haven't been on here for writing purposes in awhile but for some reason, sharing this in on a post rather than a PodCast seems more...well...comfortable.
Yesterday, while doing the most mundane things in the kitchen, I realized in a very powerful that I miss my dad. Now that may not seem like much of a revelation, but it's something that I have to look at and don't really want to.
Growing up my dad and I never got along. I was always the high strung kid who he didn't understand. I was just being me. What did I know? I held a lot of resentment toward him my whole life because of his drinking and the fighting and dysfunction that went on in the house. I didn't want my friends over to my place because I was fearful of being embarrassed by him. I didn't like anything about him back then. I had all of the normal issues a boy has with his dad, but also the "normal" issues that a kid has with one alcoholic and one co-dependent each for parents. It's nothing new. It's just as painful if you're the first kid who has to deal with it or the millionth. It doesn't set me up as being special or someone to be pitied. It's textbook. Typical for my environment of origin.
Something that recovery has taught me is to let myself mourn a loss. Some days I just need to mourn this situation. I always had sympathy for my father because he was in poor health by the time I was born. The most vibrant years of his life were behind him by the time he became a father at 40. I never complained or begrudged that fact. It's just the way it was. There might have been a few things I didn't learn how to do as a youngster because he wasn't able to show me, but that didn't seem to be a point of resentment. I think for me the resentment came from desperately WANTING to be ON his side for the way life had treated him, but I couldn't. Because he was a mean alcoholic at times and a silly alcoholic at times. I never knew which one I would get when I came home from school or on the weekends. Pair that with a mother who taught me fear in most all situations and I can see where my anxiety and self-doubt comes from. One says be overly cautious and withdrawn. The other is boisterous and outgoing and a bit of a drunken hard ass. A kid's head is on an automatic swivel and we absorb everything.
I didn't understand my dad until I got sober myself. By then he was long deceased. I learned that I was repeating his behavior and crawling into a similar hole filled with silent misery and chose to stay there because it was what I knew. I didn't know the depth of the his sorrow or shame. I didn't understand any of it until my mother was preparing for his funeral and while trying to explain who he was to the pastor, she said, "He just didn't have a very good life."
It's all true and I know it is. Truth is truth. Regardless of what the world tries to tell us. But how we deal with that truth, emotionally, is as varied as the clouds in the sky. It's what causes us to WANT reality to be different. But it's not. It is what it is. If I bend reality to my liking, I stunt my growth again. I deny myself the opportunity to deal with life on life's terms.
Sobriety has taught me that I don't want to come to the end of my life and have someone say those things about me. Yes I'm anxiety filled and have panic attacks and spent the majority of my adult life stunting my emotional growth through the abuse of alcohol. I can't fly or travel very well. Driving is still a challenge at times. But I am employed. I have a great family that is getting better. I continue to recover with Christ as my Higher Power and I assist others in their recovery. Regardless of where someone is spiritually, I try to come alongside them and "practice these (recovery) principals in all of my affairs".
These are things my father never learned. I can resent that I wasn't taught how to live. I can become angry when the arguments and fights come flooding back to me. A lot of those learned behaviors I have perpetuated on my loved ones in the intervening decades. Abstaining from alcohol doesn't cause all of those behaviors to go away. In many cases it just clears the way to be able to work on the REAL issues without any obstructions.
But there are other times. Times when I don't picture his angry face. I don't see the tell-tale swagger and the bloodshot eyes that used to inform me we was drunk before I even entered the room. I picture...my dad. Whom I love. I hated that love most of the time. It made me feel weak. I needed to toughen up. lol. That's funny.
It would be so much easier in life to set out to either love someone or hate someone and only have to do one or the other. Most times, we don't get off that easy. We live our lives in the gray area. Maybe that's why so many of us are "black and white" thinkers. Emotionally we are forced into gray areas so much that we DETEST it! We want something to be sure of. I'm telling you that nothing of this earth will give you that, but I digress.
I morbidly joke, these days, that he is the only member of my family of origin that I can relate to. I "get" him now. Since all of my so called family is either dead or ignoring my existence, I really miss him. As much as it pains me to say so, I miss him.
I sometimes think that the past never hurts me anymore. I think about all of the fights and struggles and cold shoulder and slamming doors and....just all of it. I think, "It's over and done with."
I sometimes forget that I did understand on some level, who he was underneath and how I felt about him when I was a teen and things were at their worst. I forget about...Luke Skywalker.
That's right. In 1983 I saw Return of the Jedi in the theater. We never had any money growing up, so I saw the 1st Star Wars movie as the 2nd half of a double feature at a dollar theater, when Jedi was on it's last legs at the movies. On some level that Vader/Luke, father/son battle touched me. When Luke finally beat his father into submission, not with swashbuckling, smooth efficiency, but with all of the tact of someone beating another guy down with a baseball bat, I saw how rage took Vader down to literally his last few breaths. Remember? Vader looked pathetic laying there. Then the Emperor tried to goad Luke into finishing Vader off and taking his place. Luke backed away. He said "Never", and tossed his light saber aside. "I'll never turn to the dark side", he said....
Then those words that gave me chills that day and have ever since. Because of some kinda pride in his father. His love for a man he really didn't know? One who had seemed to never do a caring, loving thing in his whole life. At least as far as Luke knew. He said,"I am a Jedi....like my father before me."
Might seem silly, but it gets me. Every horrible thing Vader ever did....forgiven. His son was there to scream in the face of evil.
Well my dad was no Jedi and neither am I. Maybe the only thing we had in common was hate for ourselves and a love for alcohol. Maybe I get to recover and he didn't. But there is a pride there and a longing to hear his voice. He's not that different. I'm an alcoholic too. So their is a kinship and understanding there that I don't have with anyone else in my family. It was a screwed up, weird, confusing, unhealthy relationship.
Why should the healing thoughts be any different?