I was just informed earlier my dad passed away today. My heart and mind have been conflicted ever since. I just don’t know how to feel. My father was the most outgoing, friendly, artistic, extremely intelligent, off beat, hilarious man you could ever know. Blasting music on his record player, choosing from the hundreds of records of every type covering the living room wall while drawing or creating art sculptures and dancing around. This is how most of my very young good nights were spent growing up, pure joy, I cherish them. Music was on almost always and if I tried to turn it down embarrassed when friends came over, he’d exclaim, “if its too loud your too old!”. He was the cool, hip, young, handsome dad, all my friends had mini crushes on. A daughters first love is her daddy and I remember quite young he was my everything. My dad had an amazing heart and an infectious smile, he’d dropped what ever he was doing to help others in need. He was amazing…
– to everyone else.
You see my father had demons, so dark even as a child I could see they haunted his soul. From a young age I nominated myself protector of my mother, my brothers & me, I was born the stronger one. Our home was WWIII on the regular. The souls of men battling internal demons usually find themselves drowning away with alcohol or substance abuse hoping to be still the dark, but us the wiser, we know better the outcome. This chemical concoction imploded the darkness within creating induced manic, bi polar bonified proverbial Dr Jekyl & Mr Hyde beyond what you could even imagine. I was held up against the wall by my neck on occasions, feet dangling. I was chased down the street , running for my life as my father tried to run me over in his truck (thank you park down the street with your narrow entrance you’ve saved my life more then once). Can you even comprehend? Countless smashed mirrors, holes in walls, screaming matches & slaps usually coming to a head when I’d run out of my room yelling “you don’t put your hands on my mom!” or “your loosing your family to your drug addiction!”. Yes, I stood on that rock as a small girl yelling at those demons, I do not feel regret, I faced my biggest fears. It was me as an early teen consistently telling my mother “you need to leave him” countlessly, co-dependant I was not, I saw my vivacious father slip away and an unknown entity take his place. I couldn’t wait for school everyday, stayed late, somewhere anywhere when I could, dreaded summer, weekends and heading home. It felt like doom. Yet someone had to be the supplemental while my dear mother worked her fingers to the bone trying to keep her family together and my father blew his paychecks on himself. Home is where the heart is and I had no home, a lost heart. Every other weekend most of my child/teenage life was spent at my grandmothers, camping or somewhere- that wasn’t “home”, aka hell. I got a job at 15 and stayed as far and as busy as I could-away from dad & his demons, but they stay 24/7 and there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in a day.
My mother finally realized she was stronger then she thought and could do it by herself even with three kids when my father took our car and left for a week or two leaving her stranded, us stranded. It was the best/worst thing that my father ever could of done. She started the process to divorced him, I was 16/17 going on 30. Watching out for my brothers, household duties, cooking, taking care and being emotionally support for my mom. These dark entities robbed me of my childhood, something I’ll never get back. People reminisce of how they wish to be a kid again, I shudder at the thought. My father was usually never around for important things, was best at ruining holidays with his bi polar like issues. Screaming all night, smiles and trying to shower with affections by holiday mornings. He even refused to go to my high school graduation ceremony as he had bigger things to do- a beer and a book to read. At the news of divorce my father chopped up everything we owned into giant ant hill piles in each room up to the ceilings, cut his head out of hundreds of family photos and spray painted the walls with obscenities. We had to live hidden with a family friend over a month til the restraining order kicked in. Then the stalking began, waiting on freeway bridges to chase my mother enroute to/ from work. Leaving dead birds at the front doorstep. Manically calling thousands of times, Spray painting the wall at her work. Drivebys shouting 20-30 times all hours of day and night. My 15/16 year old existence became “baseball bat welding escort” for my mom to and from her car. The police had to be called so many times, they actually stopped coming when id dial 911. At 16 I had to argue with operators about a football fields length being no reason to be “simply driving” by per our existing restraining order, especially when it included running up to living room windows about killing himself or us. We tried to get county out to assets him more then once for help. By the time they got to where he was he’d be casually reading a book with a cigarette and pass every answer that might give them a red flag to take him in. Genius, maniacal and calculating was that darkness inside. It was horrendous. He’d see us in the car at a traffic light and run up screaming and ranting- pounding on the windows and car with clenched fists in broad day light, traffic, public & witnesses- even with me or my brothers, or friends inside. I could go on about countless instances of “normal life” in my world at the time, but I think you get the picture, this was beyond out of control. To say I have “daddy issues” would be an understatement.
That was another lifetime, in a world so chaotic it could only be a bad dream. No one believed us, my father was a master of disguise and a maniacal genius- a classic sociopath. He could scream, break things and rant methodically and turn around and go visit a friend calm, charismatic, cool and collected ten minutes later. No one believed us-my mother was “heartless” & the family and many friends dripped with sympathy for “poor” him. Not my father, the vivacious, smiling, laughing, artistic, extremely intelligent, man who would drop everything at a moments notice to help anyone?! To think about it or even on rare occasions talk about it with my mother still bewilders us all, it was another lifetime ago. My father ended up moving out of state, but never contacted us- at the time- if he couldn’t have my mother he wanted nothing. (They were first loves since middle school) Years later I made my peace with my father, at my mothers push- always the slightly co- dependant til the end she sent a baby announcement when my son was born- I could a killed her… but in retrospect I’m glad she did. Keep in mind all these years he had known where I was and how to contact me had he felt the need. Nine years later sitting in front of me as we kept it light and he had no apologies, no accountability for his scarring actions or the childhood he robbed, not even for the abandonment. Everything could have been resolved, and continue on anew into the future with a simple authentic “IM SORRY”. He had blamed us, my mom , my brothers for his demons, actions, mental and sometimes physical abuses for years- it was the only thing I needed to hear, authentic accountability. It never came. I realized that day not all stories have warm and fuzzy endings, he had not changed he was still a substance abuser, now delving into tequila instead of beer and everything was everyone else’s doing. He’d email randomly once in a great blue moon with no rhyme or reason- or not at all. Last year he emailed me “boom! I’m dead!” Christmas eve night. Some things never change, for a moment it took me right back in a flash to every miserable Christmas we’d have to pretend everything was wonderful for everyone else. I hadn’t heard from him in 8 years before that email. He laughed the next day with a 2nd email apologizing for it and that he had been drinking and had a “pity party for himself”. This is why, even in his passing I do not regret my choices to distance myself from this toxic relationship. Father or not, at a young age I had to learn tough love, I grieved years ago- decades ago- for a father I wished I had, a father I had lost.
So the monster most children fear in their closet? Mine roamed free, this is why my heart and mind are so conflicted. Rest in Peace Dad. I wish you release, I wish you joy, I wish you clarity and light for the darkness you could not escape in this lifetime. I cried more today wishing you had been my father then wishing you were here, and that in itself, is a sad place to be but I knew years ago, you just never could.
That monster in my closet was my dad, my dad and his lifetime of demons.