I wore my Dad’s wedding band yesterday. He was only married to my mom to a few short years, but he carried this ring with him for the rest of his life. My sister’s found it when they were cleaning out his things after he died and gave it to me. I have it saved in my jewelry box and decided to wear it yesterday. It is a cool ring from the 70’s and I wanted to feel close to my Dad.
He had very long thin fingers, and I don’t, so it almost fits me. His whole body was long and lean, like his fingers. It felt weird to be wearing something so intimate of his. I don’t know how to say it, but just seeing his hands and knowing how it felt to hold his hand and then having the ring on mine, had me feeling really close to him.
I thought about him all day. Some people say he lived a tortured life. I am not sure what they mean, but I do agree in a way. In some ways it's like he never really got there, wherever there is. I think he had some undiagnosed mental health issues. I wish I would have recognized that while he was still alive, but I didn’t really see it that way, until he was gone. When he was alive, I was mostly disappointed in him or trying to win more of his love, trying to make him be and do better by loving me more. I saw that as his biggest fault and failure. Not loving, good and perfect me.
Looking back, I think maybe he was doing the best he could. He traded his addiction to alcohol to many other things, Marlboro Reds, Mountain Dew, a collection hobby (to put it as nicely as I can). He was divorced twice from women that really tried to love him as best they could, but desperately needed my Dad’s participation and he wasn’t available for that. Then he had a long term girlfriend that was the same story. All these women tried to make him there for me too. They would plan our visits, and buy a birthday card for him to sign for me. My Grandma would demand he make it my school conferences or Parent’s Night or whatever. He never wanted to disappoint my Grandma, so that really worked in my favor.
I always knew he was forced to be there, like at my high school parents night. He would show up, the most handsome and tallest man in the room, and do something really funny, like wear his high school sweater to embarrass me, and prove his love for me too. It worked like a charm. I would fall in love with him and forgive him for not really wanting to be there. To be in his orbit, even a little bit, would light me up so much. I could shine on that for a good long time.
I am like him in so many ways. Not long and lean, (darn it), but tortured, in a way. I have been thinking and researching a lot about addiction and alcohol. Is it a disease or not? Is it genetic? What is the science is behind it? I am not a scientist and I don’t know the answers. What I would say is that I know there is a dis-ease about me, and an uneasiness to me being me. I think there must be a neurotransmitter in my brain and my Dad’s too that says MORE. More alcohol, more cigarettes, more Mountain Dew, more collections. It has played out differently for us, but the desire for more is the same. The desire for love, the desire to be adored, or whatever that is too, is also the same. So this creates quite a dis-eased, and tortured life, because you are always seeking and never finding, enough.
I am healing. I am recovering. I am enough. I have enough. Along with the tortured life comes this very beautiful gratitude. I know what the bottom of barrel looks like. I was there. I was addicted, depressed and full of self loathing. Every day now, is a beautiful day, because I am out of barrel. Even my worst days sober, are beautiful compared to the dark cloud I was under. This is a silver lining of that cloud. I am working towards being grateful for this cloud of dis-ease because with it comes the silver lining. We all want to take where our parents were and move it one step forward. I think I am doing that for my Dad and for me. I think I am doing that for my daughters’. This is the best thing I can do for me and for his legacy.
The alcohol really stunted my healing from the shock of his passing. Here I am 6 years later finally making some progress. I spent at least 5 years being mad at everyone for not letting me express my grief. The truth that I now see, is that it was me that was not allowing it. It was me that thought I should get over it. Be over it. Move on. Stop already. Be strong. Stop crying. Stop wallowing. Stop being so dramatic.
I now know that I will miss him for the rest of my life. That is ok. I can let myself feel that whenever it comes up. There is no way around, only through.
So here I am today. Missing my Dad. Still and again. The way to not be tortured is to allow myself to feel without trying to change it, stop it, move on from it. Feeling the deep sadness of loss hurts like hell, but it's not torture. Stuffing the feelings, drinking the feelings, ignoring the feelings. That was torture.