After I found out my dad was an alcoholic, we went on one of our father/daughter trips. We went to Rhode Island, close to the beach and close to Mystic, CT where we planned to spend a whole day. I was excited and nervous. It was our first trip together after he almost died from drinking the rubbing alcohol.
This trip was a very odd experience for me. There were both good and awkward moments combined. The first day we had an amazing day at the beach. The area we were in was fun and it had been absolutely beautiful out. We laughed hysterically at a hairy man wearing a thong nearby. I had never seen a man in a thong before, so I was so thrown off. My dad and I had the same sense of humor and we laughed, and we laughed hard. Now yes, I know shame on us for laughing at somebody else but it cut some of the tension that was between us.
It was like everything was normal for a while. I didn’t know how to act because we hadn’t really talked much about what happened that awful night. And I still didn’t quite understand what alcoholism meant. Things seemed okay after that ice breaker. We both had our books and we just enjoyed our day together. It was later that night back at the hotel that I start to feel uncomfortable.
When we got back to the hotel room, my dad took a few alcohol nips from the hotel fridge and made a drink. I just stared at him. Was he really going to drink right now? I didn’t know what to do. I had no idea what was acceptable and what wasn’t. My dad saw my face and explained what he called “drinking in moderation”, that he was okay to drink but in small doses. Now for some people, drinking in moderation works, and I believed him when he said he was able to do that. It still made me feel very uneasy, but my dad was a master of words and manipulation. So I took him for his word. I thought okay, maybe it does work this way. I was so naive to believe him.
The next day it was already gone out of my mind. We went to Mystic and had an amazing time. We later realized he promised my mom he would take photos and we had taken none. We were having such a good time that we forgot. So on our last day, we bought a disposable camera and went back and had a hilarious time of running around trying to take photos so we had something to show my mom later.
I remember him taking a photo of me in front of a beluga whale, and right before my dad took the photo the whale pooped! It was disgusting, but we couldn’t stop laughing. I know. Such a silly thing, but we had fun.
I didn’t want our vacation to end. It felt good to have everything feel normal and not awkward and weird. I had stopped feeling so worried, which was a relief because I felt like for the first time I wasn’t worrying.
When I got home my mom asked how it went, and I told her it was amazing except for one thing. I told her about the drink he made and the” drinking in moderation” conversation. I honestly don’t remember what her reaction was but she did at some point tell me that my dad was not someone who could drink in moderation. The second he starts he can’t stop. It may take a while for it to really show but he was so great at hiding
When I look back at that trip, I feel angry that he drank in front of me knowing how uncomfortable I had felt. But then there’s the rest of the trip. I will always smile at the fun we had together. I try to hold onto that as much as I can. That there were good times, no matter how bad things would get. That laughs were still shared. When clouds of black form in my head I try to grasp onto those happy memories.
I know everyone’s story is different. I am lucky enough to say I have experienced happiness, love, and laughter with my dad. Nothing can take that away. I’ve learned life will always come with heartbreak, loss, and sadness — but it also brings good in-between. Maybe hard to notice it at the time, but for me, I notice it now. And that’s pretty amazing.
2 Replies to “Father/Daughter Trip”
Such a nice post and so glad you had that fun weekend and alone time together. I think Steve knew what “normal social drinking “ was and wanted so badly to be a member of that club that he fooled himself into believing he could be. It wasn’t that he was trying to fool YOU, he was trying to fool HIMSELF! Let’s just close our eyes and hear that fabulous laugh…
He was trying to fool himself while fooling everyone else. But that is part of the disease and I can understand that now. His smile is what I remember the most. Maybe it’s because I haven’t heard is laugh in so long. It sometimes feels like its fading. Just haven’t been able to bring myself to watch some of the old Home Movies. But I know I will hear it again. Thank you for always reading and for always understanding Dad in a way not many people could.