Sometimes I wonder if it would be better- or easier- if my father did not get sober for two years. He has been an alcoholic since 1990, with the exception of the 24 months after he had a stroke in 2013. He stopped drinking virtually overnight and stayed sober for a full two years. In 2015, almost to the day of his stroke, he started drinking again. It was a great two years and during that time I felt like I had a “normal” family and I made a lot of effort to reestablish a relationship with him. I enjoyed talking to him and even began to look forward to previously dreaded holidays. Just as suddenly as he stopped, he started drinking again and my psychotic, belligerent dad returned with a vengeance.
I’m not sure what is worse…having my old, sober dad I remembered from when I was ten years old back and then losing him again or having him have never stopped drinking at all. I am grateful to have had that time when he was sober. I’m glad that my boyfriend got to see the good qualities in my dad that I still remembered from when I was little. I’m relieved that my mother had a break from his craziness during that time.
On the other hand, it feels like I was given a gift and then it was snatched away from me. I was so numb to him and his behavior before his stroke…I could so easily ignore his insults and nasty emails and screaming voicemails. I developed a pretty thick skin over the years of him being drunk. Or perhaps it was more that I just got used to it (sadly). Now, when I talk to him on the phone, I feel so much more affected by it. It’s not as easy to shrug off as it was a few years ago.
I try to act like it isn’t a big shock that he started drinking again. It was just a matter of time, right? But deep in my heart, I did let myself believe that my mother and sister and I had all suffered enough and that we deserved his sobriety (I know that isn’t the way it works, but I desperately wanted it to be true). The famous saying is: “what you don’t know can’t hurt you”. Am I suffering more now because I have been reminded about the family and the life I could have had if my father didn’t become an alcoholic when I was twelve years old?
So what’s worse…losing my dad to the bottle a second time or never experiencing those two years of him not drinking? I honestly don’t know.