“I’m proud of you.”

My boyfriend and I were watching TV today when his thirteen year old son texted him warning him that his twelve year old brother was upset. My boyfriend called his younger son to see what was wrong. At first his son seemed upset and angry, but after talking to his dad for a few minutes, he seemed to calm down. I guess he has a tendency to have emotional reactions and outbursts.

As they were hanging up, my boyfriend said, “I’m glad we talked about it and that you feel better. I’m proud of you.” I had to hide my tears when he hung up and looked at me.

One thing about my boyfriend that I never expected to feel is admiration for his parenting style. To be honest, I really was against dating someone with children. I do not have my own and that kind of “baggage” seemed daunting to me. I love hearing him on the phone with his sons- he is so sweet and caring.

My tears, though, were not from the surge in my heart I felt for him in that moment (although I did), but rather from those four simple words that he so casually said to his child: I’m proud of you.

Do nothing taker.

Liar, cheater, stealer.

Scumbag daughter.

You’re a LOSER.

I’m so disappointed. Again.

Selfish. You don’t care about anyone but yourself.

You’re a joke.

Why do I waste my time with you?

Those are just a few of the many, many insults and negative things my father has said to my face or on the phone or via email over the years. Although there were incidents of physical abusive, he was always SO verbally abusive.

I was (and still am) a good daughter. I am a public school educator. I own my own house and car and am financially independent. I have a Master’s Degree. I have found the strength to leave two very bad relationships and completely start over. I help my sister. I spoil my niece. I have won several teaching awards throughout my career. I have never done drugs or excessively drank. I was not (or only a little lol) promiscuous. I have taught as an adjunct professor at two universities. I’m not writing all this to brag, but rather that I have had some worthwhile and important accomplishments in my life. I am a good person, a good friend, a respectable member of society. Yet, I can’t remember a single time my father has said to me “I’m proud of you.”

I have said this before and I genuinely mean it: I know my father loves me. He tells me this every time we get off the phone or say goodbye in person. He actually writes it at the bottom of every email, even the ones belittling me. I guess that might be part of the reason I have such a convoluted concept if what love really means.

My boyfriend and I were having a conversation last night about the idea of love and our previous relationships. I have told him much about my failed marriage and how my ex husband treated me. I said, “getting divorced was so difficult because I still did love him.” And my boyfriend responded with, “after how he treated you and the things he did…why? Why did you still love him?”

The question hung in the air for a few minutes while I thought about it- to be fair, that is something I have always just said, but never thought deeply about. “I don’t know why. I guess because he was my husband?” I realize how ridiculous that sounds now. Having a “title” or a certain role in someone’s life doesn’t mean anything. At the time, I felt as if I owed him love because I was his wife and he was my husband. And I feel the same way about my dad…I love him because he is my father (it kind of makes more sense to say I love him in spite of him being my father).

Hearing my boyfriend so effortlessly say those magic words to his son, with no agenda and with sincerity, was bittersweet. I love that he is the kind of man who talks to his children and helps them see value in themselves. I saw a quote recently: “when you criticize your child, you don’t make them hate you, you make them hate themselves.” I’m over 40 years old now. It took time (and therapy!), but I know my worth and am pleased with my accomplishments. I no longer need my father’s approval. But I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t freaking love to just once hear him say, “I’m proud of you.”

478 Days

I got confident. Comfortable. I should have known better. I thought my problems with alcoholics were in my past. Naive. Stupid, even.

I have three alcoholics in my life. My father, my exboyfriend and one of my best friend’s boyfriend/father of her baby. And for a short, blissful period of time, all of them were sober. So I thought. My friend’s boyfriend was sober for five months after going to rehab. He was sober for the birth of their baby and was surprisingly a very hands on dad. Until he started drinking a couple of weeks ago…while he was home alone…WITH the baby.

My dad has been sober since Christmas Eve. He’s actually doing very well. He accompanied my mother to babysit my niece every day since my sister returned to work. My mother asked me to come to watch my niece tomorrow because she has to leave two hours early to go to a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon. Because she was not staying at my sister’s house for the full day, my dad decided to stay home instead. My mom freaked out, because technically she is babysitting a three year old AND a 72 year old husband. So, now I am watching my niece the whole day so my mother can stay home to futilely try to prevent my father from drinking. This is a familiar role to me…I have always been the “hero” of the family, the dependable one, the helper, the one who is responsible.

My exboyfriend, who I have written many blog posts about, randomly texted me a couple of weeks ago asking me this question: “when I am ready to make amends, do you want me to write to you or leave you alone?” I responded he could write to me. Naturally, every time I give him an inch, he takes a mile and before long he was texting me how much he misses and loves me and that he has been sober for 101 days. He asked me to go out to dinner with him. I congratulated him, but told him that I have moved on and he needs to do the same. Three days later he texted me a photo of his coffee table covered in empty vodka bottles and the words “I relapsed.” “Because of texting with me?,” I asked. “Yes. You’re a trigger for me,” he replied.

DONE. That is the only way I can explain how I felt when I read that. The years of trying to support him, the months of begging him to get help, the weeks spent watching him cling to life in a coma, the days of researching rehabs he never went to, the hours and hours and hours of tears I cried…it all just blended together and finally (fiiiiinalllly) I. Was. Just. Done. I texted him that I hoped he would get the help he needed and then I blocked his number. So many people had suggested over the past year that I should do that, but I couldn’t. I still felt that twinge of responsibly, that fear that he would try to hurt himself and reach out to me as his last resort. But something just snapped inside of me and after 478 days of keeping the door cracked open enough for him to sneak into my life when it served him, I closed it and locked it.

My cousin’s best friend was just found dead on her apartment floor two days ago. She was a severe alcoholic and although her cause of death has not yet been determined, I will not be surprised if it is related to drinking. Another life ruined. Two young adults without their mother.

I don’t know if I will ever be free from the disease of alcoholism. This, of course, is incredibly ironic considering I do not drink. In reality, my friend’s boyfriend, my cousin’s best friend, and now even my exboyfriend are all on the peripheral of my life. My dad, on the other hand, is an active part of my life, albeit with boundaries that are based on his behavior. He is sober = we talk, are friends on social media, see each other often. He drinks = I see him the obligatory twice a year for my niece’s birthday and Christmas, speak to him as little as humanly possible and I block him on social media.

I read a quote recently that began with, “When a woman is done, she’s done.” It may have taken me 478 days to get there, but better late than never.

Through my eyes

download

One of my early childhood memories from before my dad started drinking was standing with my feet on top of his.  I was seven or eight years old, he would hold my hands and I would stand on his feet and hold on as he walked around the room.  We were not really dancing, but it was fun and my sister and I would take turns.  I think a lot of little girls do this with their daddies and it is a sweet memory I have of him.

When I was in college studying literature, I was very drawn to a particular poem:

My Papa’s Waltz 

by Theodore Roethke

 

The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother’s countenance
Could not unfrown itself.

The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.

You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.

 

There are a lot of different opinions and interpretations about what this poem is describing.  Some readers interpret it as the happy childhood memory of a young boy playfully dancing with his father in their kitchen, while his mother gazes on.  Other readers believe that the dance is a metaphor for physical abuse by a drunk father.  The first time I ever read this poem, I instantly believed it depicted abuse.  However, I wonder if that is because my father became an abusive alcoholic (while my mother helplessly watched on).  I always tell my students that this is the beauty of literature- the reader is able to interpret what they read in their own personal way.  We all (sometimes subconsciously) are influenced by our own life experiences and as a child of an alcoholic, that was the lens I saw the world through.  Yet, I got a feeling that this boy still loved his father, which was another part of the poem I could relate to, because I still love mine.

I know without a doubt that if my father was not an alcoholic, he would have been an awesome dad.  Just like I know that if my exboyfriend did not suffer from the same addiction, he would have been a wonderful life partner.  When I went to an Al-Anon meeting recently, someone used the phrase “detachment with love”.  I realized that I unknowingly started doing this with my father years ago.  I have his nasty emails blocked, his ringtone on my phone is “silent”, I immediately erase his toxic voicemails and I speak to him as minimally as possible, especially if I know he is drunk.  When I see him, if he is sober, I chat with him, but I stopped letting him “in”…I try to no longer let his behavior negatively affect me.  I accepted that I was not going to be able to change him, so I stopped trying to.

I am currently detaching with love from my exboyfriend.  While I never felt responsible for my father, I did feel VERY responsible for my ex.  By protecting him and enabling him, I was actually hurting us both, which I am able to see now that I have some space from the situation.  I cannot protect him from the consequences of his choices and I do not want to continue to suffer because of his actions.  By releasing those feelings of responsibility for him, I was able to start focusing on myself and my needs.

I love my father and I love my exboyfriend, but I hate their alcoholism.  My father, the man who should be the one to protect me, physically hurt me and still verbally abuses me. My exboyfriend, the man I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with, lied to my face and cheated on me, violating my trust.

I think I will always see the world as the child of an alcoholic and as someone who deeply loved and was in an eight year long romantic relationship with an alcoholic.  It is just a part of who I am, woven into the essence of my being.  However, I know that they both made their own choices, but that I also had the ability to make a choice for myself.

And my choice was to detach (with love) from both of them.

Still hurts…

cuore-ammalato

The majority of the time I say to other people (and to myself) that my father’s emails and voicemails don’t bother me.  In a lot of ways, they have just become the norm and I am sort of used to them.  Every once in a while, though, one stands out that is particularly hurtful.  I feel like my mom, sister and I just give him free passes because we know he is drunk.  Today he sent and email copied to all of us where he singled me out and called me a “loser” and he also left me a voicemail calling me a “scumbag”.  I obviously know these things aren’t true- I am a totally respectable member of society, a teacher, a homeowner, etc. but it still is mind-boggling to me that my own father can say these things about his daughter totally unprovoked.  My sister and I have always used humor to deal with my dad and the way he treats us.  She recently began seeing a therapist (I have gone for years, so I am super proud of her for starting to go!) and the woman said to my sister, “you talk about the things your father has done like it was only in your childhood, like he is deceased…this is still active abuse.”  That really made me think.  I do consider what my father did to us growing up as abuse, no doubt about it, but I guess since I don’t live with him and rarely see him in person, I didn’t really consider it to be current as well.  But it totally is.  His emails and voicemails are verbally and emotionally abusive and total harassment as well.  People always ask my sister and me why we don’t just block his number and his emails (I have a totally separate email address just for him so they don’t go into my regular email inbox) and neither of us have a good answer for that question.  I don’t know why I don’t just block him…I should.  He deserves it.  I honestly don’t even know if he would notice, because no one ever responds to his emails.  It is like the same way I can’t answer why my mom never left him…I kind of write it off as her being a “battered wife” and I guess in a lot of ways I am a “battered daughter”.

Uncomfortable much?

How-Uncomfortable-are-you_

One topic I hate to address is how inappropriate my father can be when it comes to issues related to sex.  In his emails, he will bring up how he and my mother are not intimate.  This is hardly a surprise considering he is drunk almost every day and he and my mom have had separate bedrooms for years.  My sister and I will sometimes tease my mom about this and she gets visibly grossed out.  As a woman, I can completely understand why my mother is not attracted to my father- both physically and emotionally.  As their daughter, I want to think about their sex life about as much as any one else would want to think about their parents having sex…AKA: NEVER.

My father, however, crossed the line recently.  Instead of a casual mention of my mother “not being a wife” (which is the euphemism he usually writes), he went into great detail about his libido, watching online porn, my mother refusing to have sex, him wanting to get Viagra and having erections during the night.  This was all in an email he sent…to his two daughters.  My sister and I were both completely disgusted and called my mother to tell her (she was horrified, of course).  She obviously yelled about my father about being so offensively inappropriate because we received an “apology” email the next day.  He seemed confused as to why my sister and I were so upset and stated that he would have thought that as his children, we would wanted to know about any medical issues he has.  Clearly if my father has a disease that affected his private parts or anything like that, we would be sympathetic, but being a horny old man is not a medical condition last time I checked.  What is almost worse than my father sending the email was his really not thinking that it was inappropriate.

When my sister and me (and my boyfriend) first read the email, we all kind of laughed it off, then got understandably grossed out.  It was only after an hour or two that my boyfriend and I talked about it in more detail and I realized how upset I was by it.  I have a lot of memories, some clear, some blurry, about my father saying and doing inappropriate things when I was younger.  One example that stands out is when I was a teenager and went to the mall with my friends.  I got home with a bunch of shopping bags from various stores, one of which was Victoria’s Secret.  My father insisted that I show him what I bought.  It didn’t come off like “I’m concerned that you bought age-inappropriate underwear so let your mom see and decide” kind of thing…it was creepy.  My dad was always a butt-pincher (like when we walked by him or stood in front of the open fridge), he made a lot of comments about my body (like calling me “thunder thighs”), he made funny, but sexual, jokes about waitresses and actresses on TV (“look at the boobs on her!”).  When he was drunk (which was most nights during my teenage years), my mother would ask my sister or me to go tell my dad dinner was ready.  He would slur that my mother had to put on a skirt, pantyhose and high heels or he wasn’t coming to eat.  He would lay out sexy lingerie on my mom’s side of the bed during the day (not exactly a subtle hint).  All of this is just to prove that my father has always been a bit perverted and there have been many times in my life that he has made me uncomfortable.

It is sometimes hard to reconcile all the different aspects of my dad.  I feel like if he read this, he would be genuinely appalled that I think these things about him.  During the two year period he was sober, my mother explained to him all the abuse that she and my sister and I suffered from over the years by him and he was flabbergasted.  I mean, unless my dad has Academy Award winning acting skills (doubtful) or is a complete sociopath (possible?), he truly did not believe he was capable of doing the things she told him he did.  If he was sober, I know he would not be saying the things he is about sex to my sister and me, especially not in the blunt, very descriptive way he did.  But him being drunk as an excuse is getting really old.

The *Dad* Who Cried Wolf

the-boy-who-cried-wolf

On Wednesday night, my mother called my cell. “I just called 911! An ambulance is coming to get your father.  He said he can’t breathe.  I think he’s having a heart attack!” Luckily, my sister was already at my house for dinner.  It wasn’t even a second thought…we left our uneaten food on the table and jumped in my car.  Even though it took us nearly an hour to get there, we actually got to the hospital before the ambulance did.

Long story short, my father had a tear in his intestines, which lead to a major loss of blood, which caused the shortness of breath.  They gave him a blood transfusion and ran a ton of tests and he was in the hospital until yesterday.  My sister and I stayed at the hospital that first night until almost 11 pm, waiting until he was stable and was admitted.

I called my father in the hospital on Friday during my lunch break to check on him.  There were a couple of my coworkers in the teacher’s room when I called and he got so frustrated because he could “hear people talking in the background” that he yelled at me and then hung up on me.

He wrote his first nasty email within hours of being released on Saturday.  He wrote that my mother is a “terrorist” because she threw away his cigarettes…that no one cares about anyone but themselves…that all we do is take…and that it’s “time for (my sister and me) to do something for him and PAY HIM BACK for everything he has done.”

I had not seen my father since Christmas before seeing him in the hospital.  I sometimes felt guilty about that until I reminded myself that it was because of his actions that I chose not to be around him.  He was nice to us when he was in the hospital and I thought to myself, “he must appreciate that we drop everything and run to be by his side when there is a medical emergency”…nope.

I do not mean to make light of a medical condition at all and I am not implying my dad is lying about that.  Rather, what I mean by comparing my father to the story of the boy who cried wolf is that every time the little boy cried “wolf”, the townspeople reacted.  They ran to him to see how they could help…and they were disappointed each time to find that nothing was wrong.  Yet, they did not learn.  They fell for the boy’s story every time.

That’s me with my dad.  No matter how upset I am with him, no matter how much he has hurt me, if something happens and he needs his family, I am there. And afterwards, when instead of being grateful for us, he is mean instead, I retreat like the townspeople.  I am disappointed with him and with myself and question why I fell for it again. I wonder why I still care so much.  I use the excuse, “but he’s my father” to justify worrying about him.

So, like the townspeople, I am naive and caring and gullible.  But, eventually, my father is going to end up like the boy.  A day might come when he once again needs his family, and none of us will come. I am not really at that point yet, but honestly a person can only care for so long. Each time this happens, I think my dad will realize how lucky he is that after everything he has done to hurt his wife and daughters, that we are still there for him and he will change*.

*Isn’t that the definition of “insanity”…doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?

Is ignorance really bliss?

img-thing

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.

“Just like me”

apple-tree-

One thing that my father often says to me is that I am “just like him”.  He will often slip it into emails or phone conversations.  We will be talking about my sister being financially irresponsible and he will say something like “you have always saved money…you’re just like me”.  I usually just roll my eyes when he says it.  I think for him, he knows he has not been the world’s greatest father (huge understatement!) and he likes to think that I inherited some of his better habits and traits.  I can acknowledge that some aspects of my personality definitely did come from him- I like to learn how to fix things myself, I am financially conservative, I like to plan ahead and I tend to be obsessive about certain things. In other words, when he says this, I take it with a grain of salt. I understand when he says it that it is coming from a place of pride (and probably redemption) that he instilled some good traits in me.

What I hate, however, is when OTHER people say this to me.  My boyfriend has a tendency to start criticism with, “You’re like your father…” or my sister will say,”You sound like dad”.  This bothers me because when they are saying it, it is clearly an insult.  I don’t want to be like my father.  In fact, I can’t really think of many things that would be more offensive than being compared to him because he is widely disliked by mostly everyone who knows him.  I don’t know if it bothers me more because it hurts my feelings (it is an easy low blow for them to use against me) or because deep down I know that the comparison is sometimes true.

The “Do Nothing”s

to-do-list-nothing

My drunk father is back with a vengeance.  One thing I definitely did not miss during his two years of sobriety was his pervasive intrusion and paranoia.  Now when I call my parents’ house, he either answers the phone and monopolizes the conversation or he secretly listens while my mom and I talk (his heavy breathing gives him away).  He opens any and all mail delivered to their house, regardless of who it is addressed to (I remember never being able to open my own mail growing up).  I have him blocked on Facebook, but he goes on my mother’s tablet and logs into her account to be able to look at my page (and then emails me about the things he reads).  He is just out of control.  This time I am farther removed from it…having moved out of their house over a decade ago, but I am still exposed to it almost daily because my mother still lives with him and she and I are so close.

One of the things I hated the most about my father growing up is a strange complaint.  He wrote on EVERYTHING.  That mail I mentioned? Not only was it open, he would write “notes” on the envelope. “Who is this from?” or “Opened 12/10/98, 4:34 pm” or “Junk Mail”.  He did it on manuals for new electronics, newspaper articles he printed from the internet, etc.  But he also wrote elaborate, repetitive, insulting notes out by hand and would leave them on the counter for my mother- in his in all capitals print.  SO MUCH WRITING.  His most famous medium was Post-it notes.  Oh god, they were everywhere.  I would come home after school to Post-it notes on the front door, kitchen counter, by the phone…anywhere you could stick one.  I jokingly sent my childhood golden retriever into the family room covered head to tail in Post-it notes once to make my mom laugh.  It’s crazy what starts to become normal after you have lived with it for so long.  Then came…the photocopy machine.  That really upped his note game.  My father would write out notes all over a piece of paper and then make 20 copies of it to spread around the house. You literally could not get away from them (because they were sometimes stuck under the windshield wiper blade on my car).

I recently bought my mother a calendar blotter to put near their home phone.  My dad was always complaining he never knew what she was doing, so I figured she could write down doctor’s appointments and stuff on it (she is also becoming a little forgetful, but that’s another story).  Yesterday while we were shopping, she mentioned she needed to buy a calendar and I was confused.  I asked her what happened to the one I got her.  She somewhat reluctantly confessed that my father wrote all over it.  I assumed she meant his typical BS, but I asked what he wrote.  Apparently, he filled in the block for each day with a handwritten “DO NOTHING”.  That is my father’s favorite insult for all of us- we are a bunch of do nothings (my sister and I are do nothing takers).  I’m not sure why hearing my mom tell me this affected me so much- I would like to think I am pretty immune to my father’s ridiculous behavior and verbal abuse or that at a minimum that I am good at trying to not care.  I guess I adapted to having a sober father surprisingly easy and now it is a readjustment to have this guy back.  It just sucks.  Sorry, that’s not great writing and I would tell my high school students to think of a more elegant way to express that feeling if they wrote that in an essay, but it does.  It just sucks.

So, one of my new year’s resolutions will be to just distance myself from my father again.  No more calls, less visits, ignoring his emails.  I tried with him so hard and for so long and now I need to refocus my efforts on other areas of my life.  As far as my father is concerned, in 2016, I will live up to my nickname and will be a proud “Do Nothing” 😉

Fall Back

8e0f79558539ff0683548ff6c9e52cfe

I think my dad is drinking again.  A few weeks ago, I talked to him on the phone in the morning and then again in the afternoon and when I hung up the second time, I literally said out loud to my boyfriend, “I think he sounded drunk”.  I pretty much dismissed the idea because he had a stroke two years ago (which led to his miraculous and unexpected sobriety) and so he does slur a little bit still.  But I also dismissed it because- to be honest- after two years of him not drinking, I got used to him being sober.  For the first year of his sobriety, I answered each call from him with that slight feeling of anticipated dread that it would be the time he would be drunk.  By the end of two years of sobriety, it shocked me how quickly I took for granted that he would be sober.  I guess what made it easier to acclimate was his complete and very abrupt stopping.  He was a horrible alcoholic one day…had a stroke…and from that day forward did not drink.  It was like a light switch was turned off.  Just like that…sober.

Now a little over two years later, that phone call that I stopped dreading finally happened.  There wasn’t anything obvious…just a slight difference in tone.  Really just something I can’t put my finger on that only the child of an alcoholic would even notice or know to listen for.  What was more worrisome was a couple of days later, my sister sent me a text with a screenshot of one of my dad’s emails.  She wrote, “do you think he’s drinking again?!?!?”  I immediately called her and told her my suspicion from the previous phone conversation with him.  We saw my mother that weekend and questioned her.  She just retired and is home all day with him and would certainly be the first to see the red flags.  She right away denied it and said she “would know” if he was drinking.  I decided to let it go- it was only a brief suspicion- and I wasn’t ready to confront the possibility that he could have fallen off the wagon.

Today, I got an email early this morning from my father.  In it, he included that my mother was mad at him because she found “a bottle of vodka under a cabinet” and that it was “several years old”.  My heart sunk.  Memories flooded back of being 13 years old and frantically searching for bottles of vodka in my dad’s various hiding spots.  I remember pouring part of one down the sink, the liquid burning my nostrils, and replacing the vodka with water…hoping it was diluted enough to prevent him from getting drunk.  My sister and I both called my mom and both told her the same thing- if he is drinking and she stays, she is on her own this time.

I can’t go through this again.  I can’t relive the horrible events from my childhood. I can’t stand by and watch and listen to him abuse us and my mother.  When I was 12 and he became an alcoholic, I had no choice.  I do now.  I just can’t do it.  Even just thinking about how he used to act- the horrible screaming on voicemails, the nasty, degrading emails, the ruined (and often frightening) family holidays- causes me to feel anxious.  I have made such an effort to become closer to him over these past two years.  But if he chooses alcohol over his family for a second time, it is going to undo all of that and I will cut him out of my life.  I just can’t do it.