I am very grateful to still have my dad in my life, although our relationship has been somewhat troubling through the years. For most of my life we had a hard time getting along. My dad ruled with the iron fist when I was growing up, and nothing I did seemed good enough for him. I always felt like I could not measure up to his expectations and therefore I was a complete failure.
Nevertheless, my dad was there for me, whether to fix my car, or help me with my first apartment, or teach me how to ski, he was there when needed and he always provided whatever he could. I know today, that despite his sometimes brutal honesty and coldness, he did the best he could.
In my mid twenties, when my drinking was not yet out of control, we started bonding over a few drinks. But, we did not drink like I normally drank, we drank like he normally drank. He would open a bottle of whatever, and then tell me all about it, and where it was from, and how it was made and on and on. Then we would smell and sip…and sip and smell. He did this with every kind of drink, wine, beer, cognac. This was hard to understand—he actually enjoyed the drink itself! Not like me…I just wanted to drink! But I went along with his rituals, just so I could feel like he loved me because it was the only time that he didn’t judge me or lecture me about something that I was doing wrong. When we were drinking together, we just laughed and carried on!
I really looked forward to those times, I felt like it was my only bond with my dad. When I realized that my life was spiraling out of control due to my alcoholic drinking, I was so riddled with shame and guilt that I just could not bear to be around him. I stopped visiting, and I ignored his calls, or I called when I knew that he was unavailable, so all I had to do was to leave a message. Then when I got sober, I remember actually grieving the fact that I was never going to have that bond with him again! And when I came to visit him, there was this strangeness, that awkward moment…he would greet me and then he didn’t know what to do next. He actually didn’t drink around me for the first few years, which was nice and very considered, yet unfortunately, even more awkward.
I do know that he has been silently watching my struggles through early sobriety, and then the transition and the growth into my recovery. But he has never said anything about it, until one day when I was picking him up from the airport, he was chattering, and telling me all about his trip, and going on and on, like he does, then he suddenly stopped, looked straight at me and said—I heard that you celebrated another year of sobriety! Congratulations! That is truly wonderful!—Let me tell you, my dad has never sounded this excited about anything that I have ever done in my entire life! Yes, truly wonderful.
We are still not very close, I don’t see him often, and he doesn’t hang out with us or his grandchildren. He chooses to go other places and spend time with other people. He is back in Europe this month and I will not see him for father’s day. I will miss him! I will miss his quirkiness, his dry and crazy sense of humor, his funny stories and sometimes very blunt comments about the state of the affairs! I grateful that I am finally able to accept him as the person that he is. I have learned that I am not a reflection of him, nor is he of me. We are two separate people with our own issues, beliefs and morals. I believe that my dad did, and continues to do the best that he can. It may not be what I want or expect, or even need at times, but he does the best that he can.
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