My boyfriend’s “daddy issues”

My boyfriend and I have been sorting out a few issues before we take the plunge of moving in together. I’m really happy to be with someone who is good at communicating, but I am feeling frustrated about one of the things we have been talking about. My boyfriend has a major issue with my father, which is in itself not very surprising. As I have written about before, I don’t actually see my father all that much, we live an hour apart (although I see my mom all the time). But, my father constantly emails and calls me. I have my iPhone set to not ring when he calls, but I haven’t found a way to not have the voicemail go off when he inevitably leaves a message. He leaves voicemails daily that range from “normal” to irrational, screaming, nonsensical, insulting drunken rants (usually the latter). My sister and I are just used to this and more often than not, I just simply erase the voicemail without even listening it. It doesn’t even phase me anymore, just the way his crazy emails don’t either. I mean, I guess if I have to be totally honest, they do bother me deep down, but I just know that it is beyond my control to stop him. Blocking his cell phone is not an option because then he would just call from their home number and I can’t block my mother, too.

My boyfriend told me that he would not be able to sit silently by when my father treats me badly. He has only been around my father a handful of times and luckily almost all of them went smoothly, but there was one bad holiday where my boyfriend got frustrated and said something to my father that was confrontational when my father was being nasty towards my sister and me. My boyfriend is not disrespectful, but he says that he will approach my father if it continues (not in a physical way, but verbally). The thing is, my boyfriend insists on listening to my dad’s voicemails when my phone beeps when we are together. He explained all of this to my sister and she has the same opinion I do- that if my boyfriend ever does confront my father, nothing good will come of it. My sister and I both think it would honestly make things worse and my dad would end up taking it out on my mother in the long run.

On one hand, I feel very good about the fact that my boyfriend wants to protect me and I think that is very sweet and comforting. But, on the other hand, I just cannot make him understand that NOTHING is going to change how my dad acts and that a confrontation between the two would just be unnecessary drama that would create more problems for me than it would solve. I understand that as a man who loves me, it is hard for my boyfriend to hear my dad berate me. But I am the one who has to deal with my dad and now I am worried that someday down the road there is actually going to be an issue between my father and boyfriend.

A pocket full of “change”


When I was in middle school, my two best friends also had alcoholic parents. I always thought this was pure coincidence, but I know now that it wasn’t- we needed each other because only we could understand what we were going through at home. We could share with each other our shame, our pain, our stories, our fears…

I am still best friends with one of those two girls and our friendship has spanned over two decades. We know everything about each other and that history has kept us close through the years. The friends that I have made as an adult are so amazing, but they will never truly understand what I went through as a teenager the way my best friend does. This is not only because she witnessed my father in action for herself, but because she experienced life with an alcoholic as well. We are more like sisters and her parents and sisters are like an extended family to me. In fact, my current boyfriend is her first cousin (talk about “keeping it in the family” wink!)

I am proud to say that my best friend’s mother (my “Ma”) has been sober for over ten years. She has struggled, but I am so happy that she created a second chance for herself to be a mother to her three daughters (and to me!) She is a wonderful woman and has accomplished many personal goals since becoming sober. I have been to about six of her anniversary AA meetings to celebrate her years of sobriety and it has always been a bittersweet experience for me. Sweet because I was inspired by people who were facing their addictions and trying to get help and for my Ma, who I had seen at her worst and was happy to see become healthy and alcohol free. Bitter because I knew without a doubt that it would never be MY father who would be one of these brave people. I will never sit in a room and hear my father introduce himself and admit his powerlessness over alcoholism. I know I can’t predict the future, but I have very little doubt that my dad will die as an alcoholic. He simply does not have the desire or willpower to get sober. Nothing has ever happened to make him want to change- not losing his job, not his health problems, not getting arrested for assault…there has never been a “rock bottom” for him.

This is my favorite memory from one of my Ma’s anniversary AA meetings: Another man was there celebrating several years of his own sobriety and spoke about his life story. He ended by saying that he always carried his AA yearly sobriety coins in his pocket and whenever he felt a moment of weakness, he simply put his hand in his pocket and jingled them around. Just the sound of those coins clinging together reminded him of all his hard work overcoming his addiction and gave him strength. He said that one day someone asked him what he was doing and what was making that noise in his pocket. He simply stated “change”.

I was so touched by this story- probably because the English teacher in me loves the symbolism of it. It is a beautiful reminder that people can and do change for the better when they really desire a better life. I have become resigned to the fact that my father will probably never overcome his alcoholism and even if he did become sober, he has become so mentally ill that he would never be the person I remember from before he started drinking.

So I will live vicariously though my best friend and be grateful for her mother for teaching me that people can fight their demons and win, that people can take responsibility for their actions and that people really can change.