I refuse to listen to bullshit. In the previous post I broke a barrier of silence that I used to wear like a badge. I didn’t want anyone to know that I had a less-than-favorable childhood. Now, I want everyone to know that I am not the victim. I am the survivor. I wouldn’t have changed my childhood because I know the benefits I’ve reaped from it.
And that breakup I described yesterday shed a light on my life. While I was picking up pieces of emotional aftermath after Philosopher and I had parted ways, my life was brought full circle. I received one of the most important calls of my life.
“Hey kiddo. It’s your dad.” I hadn’t spoken to my dad in months, close to a year. Up until then, the last memory I had of him was him coming down from a high in his apartment. He could barely speak, let alone look at me. He was hitting rock bottom. I left that apartment pissed off. I didn’t need that bullshit in my life, not when I was trying to figure out who I was as an adult.
“I’m getting clean.” Emotions and ideas and things I had waited for years to say flooded to my head. And from my eyes. I couldn’t think of what to say so I just bawled. “Really?? Is it for real this time?” My dad had had stints in rehab and I had already forgiven him for being an addict a couple of times already. My guard was up this time. I wanted proof. I wanted somebody else in a relationship to earn my trust. Prove to me that my self-preservation won’t be sacrificed because I love you.
My dad did prove it. He actually became my dad in the fall of 2007. He called me almost daily to talk about anything and everything. His sobriety. My classes. My breakup. My dad gave me advice about what to do with myself post-boyfriend. My dad became my best friend. I’m 95% sure I was his.
When my dad told me he wanted to voluntarily go to rehab to ensure his path ahead, I was supportive. It was only when he told me he might go to Des Moines that I was sad. I was living in Cedar Falls, Iowa at the time and Des Moines was a solid 2 hour drive south of me. There wouldn’t be much contact with this new dad I had become so fond of if he went that far away. About a week after he mentioned Des Moines, he decided to move to Waterloo (a 10-15 minute drive from Cedar Falls; comparable to St. Paul and Minnesota-type cities, distance-wise). I was ecstatic! Now we could continue to be each other’s rock.
Dad completed his rehab program, transitioned into a community-based house for recovering addicts and enrolled in college classes. We actually both went to the community college together for a semester and would meet each other in the parking lot after class in order to eat lunch at A&W together. (It’s my dad’s favorite restaurant in Waterloo. He’s so weird!) I kept my dad posted on a daily basis.
Fast forward to Thanksgiving Day, 2008: My family had gathered at my Grandma Deb’s house, my dad’s mom. In his sobriety, my dad had a fear about being around his family sober. I think he felt that they would be judging him instead of enjoying him. In sum, Dad didn’t come to Grandma’s. Instead, he ended up consuming 40+ tablets Ativan. That shook my world. I was so filled with rage, hurt, disgust, worry, WHY? Why, why, why? Why did you do this? This was not what Thanksgiving Day was supposed to be about! I was not thankful that my dad was, in my mind, back at square one. But really? It was necessary.
I was trying so hard to keep my dad clean that I didn’t realize I was enabling him. I would drive him anywhere he needed to go, I would do next to anything for him. But I realized that I was keeping him in his comfort zone. There are taxis. There’s a bus system in Waterloo. I didn’t have to mother him, but I wanted to. I wanted him to succeed because he’s my dad. At that point, I was so invested in his sobriety that it was bordering on unhealthy for me. Because this was his sobriety, his quest and on Thanksgiving 2008 I let him take the driver’s seat.
He’s still sober. No meth since summer 2007. He does have a couple of beers now and again but never have I seen him drunk since 2007. (And the first time I saw him have a beer since that summer? Another “letting go” moment.) I have grown to understand that my dad loves me, but he doesn’t depend on me for his sobriety. It is his choice. Every day he wakes up and chooses to remain clean. I consider myself fortunate to be involved in his success. It’s much the same for me: what my dad thinks means a lot to me, but ultimately I’m going to make my own decisions.
Fast forward to Fall, 2009: I’ve begun my career as a nurse, I’m involved with a great guy (a guy who is equally as good to me as I am to him), and I have a great relationship with my family. I feel very satisfied yet I feel a sliver of guilt when I know I’m longing for something more. The next step. I’m having growing pains because I’m ready for the next chapter. I’m ready to get married and start a family. Above and before all of that, I’m ready to enrich my career and become a Registered Nurse. I’m ready to fill out the last couple inches of these big-girl shoes I picked out when I was young. Various people will say “But you’re still so young!” I know, in numeric years. But in life experience years, I feel older. I feel ready for the next accomplishment.
And pictures of me these days? My eyes are happy. My eyes even have a smile. And? My eyebrows rock!