The journey of my relationship with my father has undoubtedly been a tumultuous one. Some of my earliest memories are of either rebelling against him or desperately wanting his approval.
When I was very little, we were the best of friends. But as I grew older, our relationship became more complicated. I struggled with depression and panic attacks starting at the age of seven, and my stepmother was secretly emotionally abusive. Honestly I could go on and on as to all of the reasons why it was other people’s fault that my dad and I struggled to connect through my teen years, but it doesn’t really matter now.
I spent my teen years blaming my father for our lack of communication. I believed he was careless, overly controlling, punishing and hateful. But when I look back now with a clearer mind, I can see that he was as unsure of what to do as I was. There I was, fourteen years old, disappearing for days at a time, sneaking out, getting high every day off anything I could get my hands on, and all the other compromising shenanigans that addicts get into.
The main issue with my relationship with my dad, and with everyone else at that time, was because I was an active alcoholic and drug addict. Those substances made it impossible for me to connect with anyone in a healthy way over a long period of time. My abuse made it impossible to be rigorously honest, responsible and accepting, all of the necessary components of emotional sobriety and true connection with others.
But at eighteen I attempted sobriety again, this time with more intent, surrender and motivation than before. About a month into it, I decided to tell my dad I was in AA. He didn’t react at all how I thought he would. He became angry, and yelled, “YOU?RE NOT AN ALCOHOLIC!” I ran from the house, completely frustrated and sad. At the time, I thought he was just being a jerk, but once again as time has passed I can see that he was just scared, and also taking it personal that I was in AA. He took my admission of being an alcoholic as something that was his fault.
But as the years have passed and the 12 Steps have worked their magic in my mind, body and spirit, my relationship with my father has transformed into something truly wonderful. I changed my own life into something beautiful centered around spirituality, service and health. I started taking care of myself. Not only that, I got HONEST with myself and then with him.
I apologized for wrongs done, and I promised him I would never do it again. I was able to tell him I loved him, and express myself when I felt hurt or appreciative. I was able to start truly communicating with him, sharing my life and my heart.
These days, my father is one of my best friends. I tell him almost everything, and I’ve come to love and accept his flaws as part of the wonderful, interesting human being that he is. He, in turn, has accepted that I’m in AA and no longer takes it personally. He understands that I’m doing this for myself, and it’s a necessary part of my happiness and well being.
So what have I learned about all relationships from my relationship with my father?
- It’s best to express my thoughts and feelings in a gentle, non-blaming way
- Rigorous honesty is absolutely necessary at all times
- Apologize for wrongs done as soon as they are realized
- Accept others’ flaws as part of the magical way that God made them
- Love, Love, and LOVE some more. We have a limited amount of time with the people in our lives, and we have no idea when it could be over.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.