A Daughter\’s Journey…

Real-life reflections regarding a crack-addicted father

2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back… December 22, 2006

My family and I were finishing up our Christmas shopping last night and just enjoying being together, when all of a sudden I realized that there was one person I didn’t buy for – my dad.  At first, it was actually the type of thought that one would normally act on as if life had never changed.  After a couple seconds, it finally ‘clicked’ that I don’t have a dad to buy for, which naturally was followed by sights of all sorts of fathers and daughters walking around the mall happily shopping for last minute gifts.  I felt instantly envious.  There was a time (my teenage years) in which I didn’t value my relationship with my dad.  Now, I find myself feeling so lost without him. 

On the drive home from shopping, I spoke with my mom who had an update on my dad.  We hadn’t heard one in quite a while and I’ll admit that natural curiosity got the better of me.  A family friend who used to work with my dad couldn’t believe the news he had heard from another co-worker who my dad apparently keeps in touch with.  Why people think that it’s ok to call a hurting family about their crack-addicted loved one (especially around the holidays) is beyond me.  At any rate, I braced myself for the news that my dad was with another family.

Perhaps worse than thinking my dad was living happily with another family is the thought that he is homeless and living on the streets.  Last night, that horrific thought became a reality.  As it turns out, my father is living under a via-dock in Saginaw.  He spends his days going between meals at the local soup kitchen and hanging out at the local library.  I ask myself the rhetorical question, “how can this be?,” and have this insatiable urge to want to do something to help my dad.  I know I can’t.  If he’s living under a via-dock instead of sleeping at a homeless shelter, that’s a pretty good indication to me that he’s still smoking crack.

It’s entirely possible that my dad contacted his former co-worker knowing full-well that all of this would get back to us.  In my sensible mind, I feel like this is probably just another of his manipulative tactics to get one of us to crumble and come to his rescue; however, in my heart, I feel like the most hardened, cold-hearted daughter on the face of this planet for turning my back on my dad like this.  This is a constant internal struggle for me. 

I still have those moments (like this one) when I feel like maybe there is something I could say or something I could do that would make my dad snap out of this.  (If only it were that easy…)  Maybe if I tried to reach him and just told him that I still love him and haven’t forgotten him; maybe if I did send him a Christmas gift; maybe somehow I could make this all better for my dad, for me, for the rest of my family. 

Then I get angry at myself for thinking for a split second that could even be possible.

I will try to keep focused on the words that a wise friend recently shared with me (thanks, TM) that I think apply to all those who are in similar situations:

“It seems so common that these MIA addicts make their holiday appearances dosen’t it? …I am amazed every year by the feeble attempts made to convince us that the events of the year were nothing more than our own misconceptions of reality. For all of you who are bracing for this contact, please know my thoughts and prayers are with you. Stand fast with knowledge that the boundaries you’ve set throughout the year truly ARE healthy ones and that just because it’s Christmas time it does NOT give someone the right to waltz right in as if nothing has happened. It’s not some kind of God given right to be a part of special times when they have done nothing to earn a place in these times. Try to keep in mind that it’s the nature of this beast to try and make us second guess our selves and that giving in only gives strength to this demon that is making it’s home in our worlds. Think of your childhood memories of Christmas time and know that your decisions now will affect the memories your children and grandchildren carry with them for the rest of their lives…..”

Such wise words which make it easier for me to be reassured in my decisions.  It’s a reminder that the decisions I’m making regarding my dad not only affects me but my children as well, and I will do everything in my power to protect them from the hurt and heartache their grandfather has brought into my life.  I grieve for my children because they will never have memories of the great man their grandfather once was.  All either of them will have is a picture of their grandfather holding them at the hospital on their birthday. 

For all those out there struggling like I am, my thoughts and prayers are with you this holiday season and always.


Moving On… December 10, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — leapoffaith @ 1:30 am

So much has been happening in my life these days, yet so little of it pertains to my father any more.  There are days, particularly this time of year, where it feels quite strange not to be at odds with something my dad has or hasn’t done.  While I’m thankful that things have seemed to come to a point of almost eerie calm, there are times when I let some less-than-productive thoughts in.

I miss my dad so much it hurts at times.  I’ve had dreams recently where my dad has found a new family , has sobered up, and has moved on from us.  In one vivid dream, I remember asking him, “How can you love them more than you loved us?  Why did you get clean for them?”  In my heart of hearts, I hope that when and if the day arrives that my dad is actually living a healthy life of sobriety, that he will be in contact with us.  At this moment in my life, I’m not sure how I’ll ever be able to forgive him at any point in time, but I would work hard at trying.

 It sure seems odd some days that life keeps passing us by so quickly.  It feels like just yesterday my brothers and I were waking up at the crack of dawn and camping outside our parent’s bedroom in hopes that they would hear us stirring and get up on Christmas-morn (although the rule was not to wake them before 7 a.m.).  It seems like just yesterday my brothers and I were helping my dad sort nuts and bolts in the garage or helping to make something out of wood.  Then I wonder how the heck we got here?

It’s become glaringly apparent to me recently (although the thought is always somewhere in the back of my mind) that we are never guaranteed tomorrow and that is the precise reason we must live for today.  It sounds so cliche’, but it couldn’t be more true.  This past week, my mom lost her best friend, Marsha, (who was like a second mom to me) to cancer at the age of 42.  She had only been diagnosed as having cancer this past summer and the last few months have gone so quickly.

Marsha was such a special person.  Prior to her diagnosis this summer, she was feeling very, very ill and it was approaching the final court hearing pertaining to my dad.  My mom told Marsha that she could handle it on her own, but Marsha said that if she had to crawl to the courtroom to be there with my mom, she would…and she didn’t miss it.  Friends like Marsha (and my own best friend, Kym) are next-near impossible to come by in a lifetime, yet my mom was truly blessed.  She was the rock that my mom desperately needed when going through everything with my dad.  We’ll all miss her very much.

Marsha’s passing helped me to reach a decision I never thought I’d come to and probably wouldn’t have had it not been for her.  Although Marsha is “Home” now, I believe she is still here, guiding and watching over all of us.  You see, I have not been back to my mom’s house since things were so horrible last Thanksgiving.  The holidays, for me, have been less than joyous.  My mindset has been that I just couldn’t bear to go back to the house where so much has happened and so much was lost.  I couldn’t bear the thought of “celebrating” a holiday in the very house my entire family once enjoyed together.  The house is a frightening symbolization of what was, what wasn’t, and what never will be; all things I have yet to really process.

After Marsha’s passing, something clicked for me.  It can’t be explained other than to say it was “Heavenly intervention” of some sort.  I just decided (without even thinking) to give into one of my gravest fears…to return to that house.  After thinking about it for a while, I realized that Marsha’s children would’ve done anything to be able to spend just one more day with their mother, and here I was willing choosing (no matter the circumstance) to do just the opposite.  We are not given the guarantee of tomorrow (as evidenced by how quickly my dad left our lives) and so we must live for today, even if that challenges us to come face-to-face with those painful things in our lives which keep us from doing so.

When I told my mom that I had changed my mind about coming “home” for Christmas with my family, she instantly cried.  I felt so blessed that I could make her so happy despite all the sadness we’ve faced over this last year.  I know I’ve made the right decision, although it’s definitely not an easy one.  Besides, allowing that house and what it stands for to me to come between my family being together when we need each other the most, is just another way of letting my father defeat me and I refuse to allow that to happen.

In the world and in a time when it seems like so much is changing so fast around all of us, take time to remember and give thanks for the true blessings in each of your lives.

…And we rejoice in the hope of the Glory of God.  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.   —Romans 5:  2-3