The other day I jokingly said something to my mom about writing an online blog about my dad and she completely freaked out. I explained that it was anonymous, but that didn’t make a difference. She said I should not tell people things about us. So, I told her I wouldn’t (see…lies come easily in our family!)
When things started getting really bad with my dad’s drinking, there was an unspoken rule that my sister and I were not supposed to tell anyone what was going on. I am still not sure of my mother’s reasons, whether she was ashamed or just in denial. The lies were not always about my dad, but were oftentimes to my dad. As many children of alcoholics know, the less ammo you give them, the better off you are. To this day, we still constantly tell him “white lies” about the stupidest and most trivial things (again proving that abnormal things become very normal in an alcoholic family).
What my mother could not prevent was the neighbors calling the police. This started to become a regular thing by the time I was graduating from high school. My mom is so amazing as a mother, but she is a classic “battered wife.” During the summer, when my father would start screaming, she would run around their huge house closing all the windows so the neighbors would not hear him. My mother is friendly to everyone she meets and many of the neighbors really liked her and were genuinely concerned for her safety. I don’t blame them for calling the police- my dad sounded like a freaking lunatic and the more she tried to calm him down, the louder he got.
A few times, the calls were coming from inside the house (duh). My younger sister would call 911 and wait long enough for a dispatcher to answer and then would hang up. I have to give the cops in my hometown credit…within minutes, two or three officers would pull into the driveway. One time, my dad was so drunk, he mocked my mother saying he was going to call the cops and pretended to call 911…but he actually did (I actually think that is hilarious) and sure enough three police officers were at our house minutes later.
Here’s the thing. If a woman is being abused, but lies and tells the police that everything is fine when they come to the house, there isn’t anything they can really do. They would check out the house and talk to my dad while my mom reassured them everything was fine. My sister and I would sit at the top of the stairs watching and wondering how my dad never got in trouble. We didn’t understand why my mom protected him. As much as I adore my mother (we talk every day and see each other most weekends), I do have some resentment towards her that she didn’t get herself and my sister and me out of that situation.
When I was 18, my father was threatening my sister in her bedroom. I was (and still am) very protective of my sister, who was 15 at the time. I stood in between them and told him to leave her alone. He promptly leaned back and headbutted me in the face. That may have been the only time my mother called 911, though I am still not sure if it was her or my sister. Ironically, the cops had already been to the house once that day on a noise complaint from an anonymous neighbor. This time, my dad was arrested for assault. I think I have blocked a lot of that day out of my mind because I hardly remember going to the police station to do the paperwork. The result was a list of charges against him that were automatically filed by the police. They probably had a big donut celebration afterwards that they finally had a reason to arrest him. I am sure it must have been frustrating for them to come to our house and know that a woman and two teenage girls were being abused by a drunk asshole and not being able to do anything about it.
I will save the rest of that fun story for another blog, but I will say that afterwards my mother begged my sister and me not to tell my grandparents or any other family members about what happened. Of course, secrets like that have a way of coming out and eventually everyone close to our family knew about it. I am happy to say that these days my mother is much more honest with other people about my father and his alcoholism, and more importantly, she is honest with herself. And if I still tell “white lies” here and there, I guess I can just blame it on the alcohol 😉