I abruptly woke up rather early yesterday morning. I had really planned on sleeping in since it was my first day off after working nine days straight. Wasn’t going to happen, I was wide awake at 5:00 a.m. What was even stranger was what I was thinking about…running. I realized that one of the great things about running is that for a short time you can escape, and leave all of your troubles behind. One of the things that I need to escape from is listening to my alcoholic dad.
Yes, for those of you who don’t know I am living at home with my parents. I am living at home for a couple of reasons: 1) I am trying to establish my own law practice, which is proving to be more difficult than I thought. 2) I have massive student loan debt. While trying to establish my practice I am doing contract work, but it is never guaranteed and never consistent. So until I start getting a steady paycheck I will not be able to move out. When you add my massive student loans into the picture without any steady income it is a recipe for disaster. So I am incredibly grateful that my mom told me that even though she couldn’t help me with school, I could live at home if I needed to. I definitely am not proud that at 32 I am living with my parents, but I am not ashamed of it either. It is what it is. Would I like to be in my own place? Absolutely!
My dad, I will actually call him Jeff since I don’t consider him a dad, has been an alcoholic my entire life. I don’t know what it is like to have a dad or a father figure in my life. I’ve never had one. Jeff and I have never had a relationship, and we never talk. We pretty much don’t even acknowledge each other, unless of course he is bitching about me. Luckily, my mom and I have always been very close, like best friends. Jeff has always been insanely jealous of our relationship. When I tell this to people, they always ask if he is my step-dad…because what dad would be jealous of the relationship his wife and daughter have? I do have two younger brothers and two younger sisters. One brother and one sister also live at home. Out of the five of us siblings, I definitely have the closest relationship with my mom.
Not only is Jeff an alcoholic, who is insanely jealous of my relationship with my mom, he has also been unemployed for two-and-a-half years (this was due in most part to his drinking.) The only thing he has done this entire time he has been out of work is bitch, drink, and expect my mom to spend every night on the couch next to him. Boy does he have another thing coming! What he needs is someone to knock him into reality!
Although he has never been physically abusive with any of us, it doesn’t matter because the emotional/verbal abuse is always there. The bitching about me is never directly to me, but rather to my mom. However, it is usually when I am home so I hear it. Jeff goes on and on about how many 32 year old “lawyers” are living with their parents, how my mom and I must be lovers since we spend so much time together, how when he was my age he was married with kids, and on and on and on. Although I want to build my own practice, I have been applying for jobs and I can’t even seem to get an interview. If I had a steady income I would not be here. I don’t know how my mom has put up with it for as long as she has, because it is starting to wear on me. Everyone of my siblings and myself have told my mom numerous times to get a divorce, but she doesn’t believe in divorce unless there is physical abuse. According to her, she lets his words go in one ear and out the other. She is definitely stronger than I am.
As harsh as this may sound, I am waiting for him to drink himself to death. For once, our lives would be peaceful. He almost did it once already. He ended up in the hospital in ICU for several reasons related to drinking. The hospital attorney told him that if he didn’t go to treatment voluntarily they were going to commit him. He wasn’t going to, but eventually decided to go voluntarily. Although he was detoxed from his stay in the hospital, they moved him to a detox facility until they could find a program. They were smart. They knew if they let him go home he would go right back to drinking. That is exactly what he did after he finished treatment. After he left treatment, he was on some sort of six month probationary period. He had the end date of that marked on the calendar, and the first thing he did that day was go to the liquor store. The liquor has always been more important to him than any single one of us, including my mom. He is damn lucky that she is still around.
I know someone is going to jump to Jeff’s defense and tell me that alcoholism is a disease. I have already heard that, numerous times at family week during his treatment, and I don’t buy it. Cancer is a disease too. I don’t know one cancer patient who doesn’t want to get better, who doesn’t wish for more time with their family, who would refuse radiation or chemotherapy if it would cure the cancer. Alcoholism can be cured, but the alcoholics just seem to refuse treatment time and time again.
Jeff doesn’t want to get better, he loves his liquor too much. In fact, more than his family. He has no friends, he has alienated his mother and brothers. When his mom calls, he won’t talk to her. The few times he has been in the same room with her, he ignores her. He doesn’t go to family functions, including Christmas with his own family. By all definitions he is a loser. He is even mean to his own dog, someone who loves him unconditionally.
If you have never had to deal with an alcoholic, especially one in your own family, count your blessings.
Jeff has never once said he is proud of me for anything. He never came to my college graduation. The only reason he was at my law school graduation was because my mom made him. Never congratulated me on graduating from law school, or passing the bar exam. I really don’t want him anywhere I am because he is an embarrassment to me. I have never brought friends to my house, never brought a guy to my house, and I never will. I am ashamed of him, and never know how he might embarrass me or himself. For instance, one Christmas my sister had her boyfriend over for dinner and Jeff was so drunk he fell down the stairs and could not get up. He is ridiculous and I have had it with him. I ran my first half-marathon earlier this month, which he knew I was training for. He must have been too drunk to remember the date, because when my mom and I got home that day he accused us of being at the casino because where else would we have been that early in the morning.
Although Jeff is the alcoholic, it’s always “poor him” and he has had the victim mentality his whole life. People should feel sorry for him. My mom had breast cancer a little over five years ago. Acting like he was a caring husband he took the maximum FMLA time he could off of work. Instead of helping my mom around the house, and comforting her he sat downstairs drinking and gambling online. Then he got jealous of all the attention and well wishes my mom was getting, and was pissed off that nobody asked him how he was doing. Poor baby!
Back to the gambling. My mom would hide the mouse and keyboard so he couldn’t get online. Now most of you are probably thinking why didn’t he just go buy new ones? Jeff is lazier than I am. Plus, he spends most of his day drinking so he isn’t going to go out. One summer when my mom was at her brother’s cabin for the weekend, he wanted a keyboard so he could gamble. Of course he was drunk as always, he told me I needed to give him my keyboard. I told him no. Then he told me if I didn’t give it to him, he was going to call the cops and tell them I was trespassing. He never did get the keyboard, and he ended up passed out on the couch.
Of course, all of this is just scratching the surface of what my family’s life has been like. I don’t fault my mom for any of it, although I don’t agree with her decision to stay with him. On many occasions I have told him she is just enabling him. It’s not just the emotional and verbal abuse that is hard. Seeing the great relationship that others have with their dads, and seeing the dads I am friends with interact with their own young children is hard. I think it is a big factor in why I am still single. I have never had a male in my life that I have had a good relationship with. The only example I have had has been unreliable, untrustworthy, lazy, and has always let us down. They say daughters usually choose someone like their father…I’ll be damned if that happens. I think about when/if I get married who will walk me down the aisle? Certainly not Jeff, I am not even sure if I want him there. I think about whenever I am finally able to move out who will be there for my mom. I’ve always said and believed that at any given moment you are exactly where you are supposed to be. I believe there is a bigger reason I am still living at home…to make sure that nothing ever happens to my mom.
Back to my abrupt wake up and thoughts on running. I so glad that I started running because if even for a short time it is an escape. A way to clear your mind, a way to remind yourself that you are powerful, strong, and that you do have worth. I know that “running” away from problems won’t make them go away, but it certainly gives you clarity. I am also grateful for my girls, Little Miss and Emma. I will always be the greatest thing ever to them, and they love me unconditionally.
As I am sure it is quite clear, I have no respect for Jeff. How can you respect someone who doesn’t respect themselves or anyone else for that matter. I am sure some of you are judging me, but unless you’ve dealt with an alcoholic you will never understand.
Have you ever left the house for a mid-day run, and questioned whether you should bring your house key with you because you might be locked out when you get home? I have.
My very existence gets under Jeff’s skin.
God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage. If God brings you to it, He will bring you though it.
I just hope I get through it standing on my own two feet.
This is why I run.