Now that my father has been sober for over a year and a half, sometimes I struggle with writing this blog. I started this in order to deal with the things that my dad currently did…the nasty emails, the horrible voicemails, the dreaded family holidays. I tapped into memories occasionally, but so much was still happening when I started writing this that I very much lived in (and had to deal with) the present. I find that now I have a tendency to think about and reflect on the past more often. Doing so has brought up events that I have not thought about in many years. There have been times when my sister and I talk about things that my father did when we were growing up and they just feel unreal…like hearing incredible stories from someone else’s life. It is almost like having to still deal with him protected me from having to remember the past and now that he isn’t actively doing anything all those memories are flooding back.
My dad was such a belligerent drunk. He was scary and threatening and violent and intimidating. He bullied and harassed and screamed and threw things. But when I think back to my childhood and teenage years, what I think about mostly is the psychological abuse he inflicted on us. He did such bizarre and strange things. He recorded phone conversations…I thought I was so cool to have my own phone number and phone in my bedroom as a teenager, until I realize that he had an extension of it also installed in his office, where he would listen to my calls. I don’t remember ever getting a piece of mail that was unopened. I have almost an obsessive need to check my mail now as an adult…like I have to get to it before someone else does. He followed my mother, sister and me. I remember coming out of school as a senior in high school and finding a note on my car that I was “parked crooked”. You know that song…”it always feeeeeels like somebody’s watching meeeee”…yea, that was my life. I told my boyfriend the other day how I had gotten into an argument with my dad and then stomped away, like a 16 year old girl will do, and locked myself in my bathroom to take a shower only to have my father kick down the door. There was just never any privacy. If we slammed our bedroom doors, he would take the doors off the hinges. If he was especially angry at night, he would remove the spark plugs from my car so I couldn’t leave for school in the morning. Even when he wasn’t home, it was like I was on constant high alert. I dreaded the sound of the garage door opening announcing he was home from work- I would get a pit in my stomach knowing he was home. Any semblance of peace in the house was gone as soon as he walked in. And on the days he was “normal” and didn’t drink, it was almost even worse, because I never knew what to expect. At least when he was drunk, I knew what was going to happen.
One of my most vivid memories was my mother, sister and I going to Costco on a weekend when I was about 17. My dad seemed fine when we left. When we came out of the store a couple hours later, my father was parked in his carnext to my mom’s car in the parking lot. At that time, Costco was almost an hour away. It was like he couldn’t stand to not be involved in whatever we were doing, or he didn’t believe that we were where we said we were. Obviously he was drunk, so he could not drive his car home. My mother initially asked me to drive him home. I had my license but there was no way I was driving alone with him for an hour. Eventually, she agreed to drive him home in his car and I would drive myself and my sister home in her car. I started to drive away and came to a red light to exit the parking lot. Unbeknownst to me, my father ran after the car and completely scared the hell out of my by opening the driver’s side door and pulling me out of the car. I screamed for my sister, who was 13 at the time, to get out of the car and quickly tried to open the back door to get my purse. My dad jumped in the driver’s seat and gunned the engine with me still leaning into the car. He then proceeded to pull out of the parking lot with the back door open and my frightened sister still in the passenger seat. I screamed and yelled and my mom tried to chase them on foot. Luckily, for some reason, my dad stopped after driving just a few feet and I was able to get back in the driver’s seat. I remember just leaving and not even caring what happened with my parents; I just wanted to protect my sister and get us out of there. I drove directly to my boyfriend’s house so we didn’t have to go home for a few hours. The weirdest part about this memory is I vividly remember seeing a police officer’s car in the parking lot and kept wondering why he didn’t help us. I even called my sister to ask her about this and she remembered it exactly the same (and mentioned it was one of her most vivid memories).
That is a more extreme depiction of what we dealt with growing up, but I have so many stories like that. It’s weird how the mind works- I had not thought about that in years, but memories like that keep coming back to me at random times. It is like now that my mind isn’t being violated by a constant barrage of daily crap from my dad it finally has a chance to recollect these old events. I’m not entirely certain that this is a good thing at all, but sometimes when I tell someone a story like this and they are incredulous about it, it makes me proud that my sister and I survived all that craziness and became the people we are today.