There’re two sides of my dad 1) The amazing most generous loving man and 2) Drunk and crazy. It’s hard to have to go back and forth with drinking, dry drunk, sober, and back to drinking. It’s a circle of pure hell.
After finding out about my dads drinking it just seemed to only get worse. It was amazing to me how well he could hide it from everyone, but with family, you learn the signs. The glazed eyes (that someone might just take for sleepy), the slight slurring of words, the sleeping in and not knowing what time it is. The eyes though, when you’ve dealt with it for that long the eyes can tell all. Maybe not at first, but over time you learn.
What’s amazing too is even when you know they are 100% drunk, they will try to convince you they are totally fine. The more you call them out, the more they really try to make you believe everything is okay. It would even get to a point of okay we need to find the stashes and get rid of them. Beer cans in his trunk, nips and vodka bottles hidden inside his golf bag, even bigger bottles found in drawers, and sometimes just blatantly right in front of you. (Back then we didn’t realize you shouldn’t get rid of it, that we were only doing more harm)
He also didn’t just “drink” he binge drank which usually ended up with him in detox, then into rehab (again) if we could even get him to go. The doctors were always in shock at how high his alcohol levels were.
But then there’s the other Steve (dad). The one I try to hold onto as much as I can. There was the dad that took me on amazing father-daughter trips. The man that got to know his employees, and when he truly trusted and liked you, he would do just about anything for you. He was kind, and instead of getting mad at you (which he could do too) he would listen and try to fix other people’s problems, or at least try to connect and listen to their stories. I guess this was his way of trying to make himself better as a person. And he was a good person, deep down he just had an awful disease.
I’ve learned all my anxieties- he had too, I just never knew it. He came off as strong, willfull, powerful, funny and brave. It’s taken me a long time to see the good and not all the bad and don’t get me wrong there are times I still struggle to just remember the good. He had a disease. Who would ever really want to live a life where you’re an addict? No one wants to be an addict.
Dad had a way of scaring the piss out of people, but he also had the caring heart to know when someone needed him. He was the understanding one, who got to know your story, not to please you, but because he always wanted to help the people he loved and the people he knew were good. He wanted to see them happy. If he could provide that for people, it made him happy.
One time a homeless man came up to my dad at the gas station and asked him for money. He said, “Listen, let me finish up here, if you meet me at that Denny’s across the street I will buy you and your family food.” He’s offered this to several people, and not all have shown up- but this man did. Dad ended up buying everything he wanted off that menu for him and his family. That story will always stick with me, it was selfless.
He knew how to tell stories that captured everyone’s attention and told jokes that would make you laugh so hard you cried. I always wished I could emulate the way he talked, instead of my uneasiness around people. He could get anything he wanted or needed. He was that smooth talker and not in an arrogant way, he just knew how to talk to people. People did what he wanted them to do because he just had that touch.
When my parents divorced, and he had time with me he always had something fun planned for us to do. He made every minute count when I was with him. So, I am learning to look for those good moments more, instead of holding onto the worst, because there were a lot of good times as well. There was also a lot of bad, and you’ll hear these stories too. You’ll learn both the good and the bad. But I need to keep remembering it wasn’t ALWAYS bad and keep looking for those wondorus glimpses of good.
I will forever be thankful and lucky because focusing on the bad only made me bitter and angry. What kind of life is that? We all deserve to be happy even when we have demons.
“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.” – Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter)