I wanted to blog about happy things - show you pictures of my barn, tell you of the random and probably age-inappropriate interests of my kindergartner, or...or...talk of other things significantly more engaging and lighthearted than my father. My father, the (not-so-recovering) alcoholic, PTSD suffering Vietnam veteran who has - PROUD MOMENT COMING - now graduated to domestic violence and attempted suicide.
I've blogged about him before, and I have recently tweeted about this drama, as it is one of those non-Facebook-type subjects for me. Re-reading those posts from a few years ago, I have just realized that this post does not have to be as long as I originally anticipated it to be, as I don't think I can better summarize my thoughts than what I have already written. I guess it is amplified now perhaps, with the two new elements of abuse and attempted suicide adding a bit more gravity to an already grave situation.
Since 2008, when I wrote about my Dad before, he moved out to California to live with his girlfriend. I have never met her, but my brother has been out to visit them and ascertains that she is quite possibly the kindest person one could ever meet. She has put up with repeated drunken nonsense from my Dad, and for some unknown reason she stood by him throughout what my Dad terms "slip-ups" - a vastly inaccurate term if ever there was one. My brother was always candid with my Dad's girlfriend; he told her after every "slip-up" that my Dad was never going to change. His issues have remained the sole constant in his life for the past 40+ years. They stayed ever-faithful through his marriage to my Mom, and a number of relationships since then. In my Dad's own words, those relationships ended due to various problems instigated by the women. It never had anything to do with him being a paranoid drunk unable to stay sober.
Last week, my brother and The Dude broke the news to me in tandem that my Dad was in jail. DUI? Old news. Dad had moved on to bigger and brighter things like kicking his girlfriend and smashing up her house. She took out a restraining order against him, which we applauded and supported. A day or two passed, and then we found out that my Dad tried to kill himself. This also, is a new development in his pantheon of Bad Behaviour. Even now I'm not sure how, as we have not been able to get through to him at the VA Hospital he may or may not be in. Well, he is there, as mentioned by a staff member the other day who spoke with my Dad to confirm that I could be added to the contact list. However, subsequent phone calls have yielded no response from anyone other than "Ma'am, we can't say whether he is here or not." I have pointed out that I don't need them to confirm, as I already know he is there as he was spoken to by a nurse while I was on hold previously, which would indicate, oh...I don't know...maybe that he is there?
I'm glad of course, as I really need this situation to be complicated further.
I have been wrestling with what to say to him if I was put through to the room he may or may not be in. My Dad has never addressed his problems with me. Ever. We gloss right over them and pretend that things are normal. Alcoholism and its effects are the subtext we disregard. Dad is a gruff ex-Marine not prone to discussing feelings, and I have both a fear of confrontation as well as the annoying habit of not wanting to upset anyone. I'm not going to go the route of my brother, which is to usually start these conversations with, "What the fuck is your problem?" I would say something stupid like, "Wow, you're a hard person to get ahold of!" I can type a novel here about it all, or rant to The Dude as to how complicated all of this is, but all I'll ever be able to say to my Dad are polite trivialities.
What if I did manufacture a spine and tell my Dad how much I want to shake him for being so goddamned selfish? Is it fair to do that to someone who has just decided that life isn't worth living? It seems kind of mean to go off on one with someone who has survived a suicide attempt, but then again, we have been tiptoeing around his bullshit for 20 years now. I can agonize over these things for hours, and occasionally I come to the conclusion that all of that thinking was for naught. This illness is too ingrained, too settled in. It's here for the duration, isn't it? The duration was almost up to two days ago, and who knows how much of an extension has been granted. I would love to read about intervention miracles whereby those who have been addicts for decades get better, but I don't read about them because they don't exist. If it hasn't happened now, by his 66th year, it isn't likely to. What stark realization will he have? People talk about needing to hit rock bottom - he presumably hit that in 1996 when he and my Mom split up for good. He was confronted for squandering my college fund, such as it was, and was out of our lives for years. As a parent, I would think rock bottom is not seeing your kids for YEARS because you are too fucked up to be around them. Does it get worse than that? We are years beyond that point now, so I'm not sure what happens next.
I apologise for all of the rhetorical questions. I don't expect answers. I know there aren't definite ones. Re-reading the comments on my old posts on this subject makes me realize that this is the only forum in my life that I can look to for genuine comfort, so thank you - even if you don't know the "right" thing to say.