Today is October 13th. What happens on October 13th every single year? Facebook reminds me that the boy I made out with in a closet for three hours when I was 9 years old celebrates another birthday. I loved him. Well, as much as any 9-year-old girl can love a boy. Oh he was a cutie. He hasn’t aged well though. Because this boy celebrates a birthday today, and Facebook feels the need to remind me, I am also reminded that my biological father celebrates a birthday today (yes, I only remember his birthday because of this boy I made out with once).
What you need to know about my dad:
- He is an alcoholic and drug addict. He thinks it’s normal to drink as much as he does – everyone drinks a gallon of rum a day with their Dr. Pepper
- He beat the shit out of my mom when I was younger, not just once, but over and over again. My mom finally left after he shot a gun at her in the house while I was standing there.
- He is a genius – literally he is so incredibly smart – he has 2 masters degrees, had a highly successful business until getting into drugs hardcore, and used to successfully play the stock market
- He loves me unconditionally. I truly believe this.
- He has not yet met my daughter (she’s 2.5) because I told him that he had to be clean and sober for an extended period of time before he could meet her. He’s not made it that far yet. But hopefully one day 🙂
Because my life has enough fucking “chaos” in it, I try to set and maintain boundaries with my dad. Actually, he may be the only person that I can successfully set and maintain boundaries with. Boundaries are really fucking hard for me. However, with him, I am able to choose when and for how long I talk to him, whether or not I listen to his voicemails, and if and when I see him.
Today, I chose to call my dad to wish him a happy birthday. I was on my way to marriage counseling and, when I was 10 minutes away, I called him. This put a time limit on our conversation. He didn’t answer so I left a message wishing him a happy birthday. He called me back when I was 5 minutes away. An even shorter limit! I answered when he called back and we talked for a few minutes. It of course didn’t take me long to realize he was super intoxicated. He informed me that he is unemployed again and money is tight. I never give him money. I apologized and said I could relate. He asked how my marriage was; I told him it was great. He asked how “the baby” was. I told him that she is not a baby anymore, but she’s doing great too. I told him I had to go because I had an appointment, but would try to call him again in a few weeks.
Overall, it was a great, short conversation! I got off the phone feeling good about my boundary setting abilities haha
Now, this is where having a parent who is an addict gets a little fucked up:
After marriage counseling, I went back to work. When I got out of work around 7:30 tonight, I had a missed call and a voicemail from my dad. I thought something might be wrong so I listened to his message: Here’s how it went (for 1 minute and 11 seconds):
(10 seconds of silence) “Oh shit sorry man I didn’t hear the beep for me to start talk’n. Hey Jenny it’s me, Scott, your dad! I got your message this afternoon. Thanks for calling to wish me a happy birthday! That really means a lot. Man I miss you. I hope you’re doing good and the baby’s doing good. I miss you so much man. Hey, I don’t know if this does this to you when it’s your birthday but I got on google today and do you know what happened? It had little birthday cakes on the screen. How did they know it’s my birthday?!?! Or maybe it was a coincidence. I don’t know. I just thought that was neat and I would tell you. Email me sometime and we’ll get lunch or dinner or something. Ok. Bye.”
OMG are you fucking serious? I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. It’s one thing when your drunk best friend leaves these kind of messages for you, but it’s another thing when your drunk dad does it. I am sad for him. I am sad that he lives this way. I am sad that he refuses to acknowledge he has a problem and get help. I am sad that he probably does not remember the 5 minute conversation we had today before marriage counseling. He can be such an amazing person when he’s sober. I spent some time in Al-Anon when I was in college, and I think that really helped me learn to accept that this is just who he is until he decides to get help. However, that doesn’t make the drunken phone calls and voicemails any easier. My heart hurts for him.