My father was a broken man and ,disguised as alcoholism, the pain that he carried within spilled over onto everything and everyone that he encountered.
As absurd as it may seem, I can’t say that he battled alcoholism because I mostly saw him embrace it-almost as a part of who he was and with as much ease as one accepts the color of one’s skin.
Nothing and no one else seemed to matter more than alcohol did and it was the only thing that he remained faithful to until his very last day.
My demons and his must have understood each other well because I always sensed the hell that he carried inside of him. For some time, I attempted to ease his pain remaining by his side after he’d alienated everyone else that could have loved him-not knowing that loving him would be one of the hardest things I’d ever do.
I saw him in ways that no child should ever have to see her father and I witnessed things that no child should ever have to witness.
Inevitably, he got to the point where even I understood that helping him get better was too big of a task for me. But acknowledging that didn’t keep me from carrying the guilt of it well into my adult life, anyway.
Somewhere I read that most of the time, we battle our demons but sometimes we cuddle with them instead and on one cool September night my father cuddled with his and never woke up from his sleep again.
The last time that I saw him alive I was almost thirteen. The next time that I saw him, I was fifteen years old and he was in a coffin. The enormity of that moment took years to sink in and when it did, its effect gradually seeped through tainting every area of my life before I even knew what was happening.
When he died, I didn’t think all of the things I imagine someone would normally think; things like him not being around for my graduation or to walk my sisters and me down the aisle on our wedding day. I didn’t even think of him not ever knowing our children.
Hurting people hurt other people and my father had harmed others (including me) in unspeakable ways. Being aware of just how much pain he lived in and of how much of it he’d inflicted upon those around him, all I could think of was that he was no longer hurting and that he could no longer hurt anyone else ever again. I felt comforted by that…
But I was wrong to some extent because for a long time after my father ceased to exist, I lived in darkness, unaware that I was still living with the consequences of his suffering and with the burden of not having been able to ease his pain. So, it was almost as if he were still around.
Since his death, I’ve learned of things that he did that should make me hate him and they did. Until, I understood that making the things that he did about me was too much of a load to carry. My father’s pain was his own and now I understand that even the things that he subjected me to weren’t about me at all, they were a reflection of his own sorrow.
It wasn’t easy and it took years of doing my own suffering to reach acceptance that I had to learn to own my truth and draw a line where my father’s started so that I could stop confusing his truth with mine. I knew that if I didn’t do that, I would never be able to figure out why it was that I felt as broken as I did or how to stop feeling that way.
Eventually, I reached the understanding that to continue hating him would only guarantee a legacy of pain and suffering living on through me. So, I’ve forgiven him instead because forgiveness means peace and peace is something that I aim to live with!
And I am certain by now that neither his suffering nor the pain that he inflicted upon me were in vain at all because it was through them that I reached a darkness so deep that I finally understood that if I wanted to make it through and live, God was my only way out of it.
Truth be told, I never knew my father much, who he was behind the pain and the alcohol remains unknown to me. But even though in my life there will always be a void where his presence should be, in my heart that void has been filled with the Lord’s love for me and I am no longer lost in a constant struggle of not becoming who my father used to be.
Now I live with the purpose of becoming who I am supposed to be because I know that every heartache, every victory, every single experience that I go through is shaping me into exactly who God intends for me to become.