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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Never Daddy's Little Girl

My dad was an alcoholic.  He was also a gambler, sex-addict, food addict and cheater.

There, I said it.  I got it off my chest.  I've released the dragon, so to speak.  This is my truth.  This is my story.  This is my pain.  This is the scar that won't heal.  The wound that's been festering for over 40 years.

In the words of good ole Dr. Phil, "you cannot change what you don't acknowledge".  For some reason this fact has been tucked away in the back of my mind ever since I heard it.  I most likely pushed it back in one of the files of my mind long ago because I was not ready to deal with it.  To confront something so huge takes a lot of courage and balls.  The evolution of time and recent events has pushed me to speak my truth.

I'm not going to blame my parents for how I am today but let's face it, our family life and experiences do shape the adults we become.  In a way, it sets the foundation for the person we build that is our true identity.

My father worked hard to support his family and contributed much to the community we lived in.  He volunteered for the United Way and participated in urban planning.  When my father did come home from work at 5:00 p.m. (when he wasn't at a meeting) the first thing he'd do is pour himself gin, vodka, or a martini.  I'd hear the clinking of the ice dropping in the glass and it was like a punch to my gut.  A reaction worthy of Pavlov's dogs.  The evening would begin and we weren't sure what was in store for us.

My mother had a nice well-rounded meal on the table:  protein, vegetable, and a starch.  A bottle of wine was on the table.  When we were young my brother and I would drink milk with dinner, when we got older we were offered to taste the wine.  We would taste it but revert back to milk.  There was no mystery to alcohol; it burned our throat and we were over it.

The effects of being a child of an alcoholic are many.  I am beginning my journey to figure out why I am the way I am, as an adult.  There's no doubt that my childhood experience with an alcoholic father has had some impact on my adulthood.  Probably more of an impact that I realize at this point.  But I am just summoning the courage to figure it all out.

I started this entry as my father WAS an alcoholic.  As of this writing, to my knowledge, he is still alive.  I don't know what his current status is or if he is sober.  I haven't been close to him ever in my life; I was never 'daddy's little girl'.  He put his job and volunteerism before his family.  He never said, 'I love you'.  He never encouraged us to 'be' anything.  There were no cheers in the crowds for me and my brother.  We just coped every day with the contemplation of, 'will he pass out?', 'is he in a bad mood?' or 'should I bother asking for his help?'.

I don't believe we were physically abused.  But, we are all products of verbal, mental, and emotional abuse.  As kids, my brother and I watched our father degrade and cut down my mother.  He used that same tactic with us.  He always had to outdo us kids and showcased his intelligence over our progress and growth.

I officially cut ties with my father a couple of years ago.  He has never really been a part of my kids life.  This is a blessing but a sad truth at the same time.  How could I expect that he would want to be a part of his grandkids life when he barely took an interest in his own kids?!

My parents got divorced when I was 25.  They should have gotten divorced way before then.  My mother had the strength and courage to walk away and save herself.  She is a strong and beautiful woman.  She put up with a lot of shit growing up.  If they hadn't got divorced when they did my mother wouldn't have lasted very long.  He broke her down and wore her out so bad.  Today, I am more than grateful that she has been the BEST nana and grandfather to her grandchildren.  My sons are so lucky to have an amazing woman in their lives.

I was never a daddy's little girl but I am my mother's daughter!


  1. Oh Pamela... I do remember your father but he wasn't really around when we would go to your house after school. I had no idea how awful it was for you. I wish I had know. But I guess I was dealing with my own issues with my father. I definitely felt emotionally abused by him... he always made me feel like I wasn't good enough for him. I cut ties with him about 15 years ago and it was the best thing I ever did. My kids ask about him... they know he is out there somewhere but I fear the day they want to meet him.

    Pam... we are so much more alike than I ever thought. We must get together again - maybe I'll just take a quick weekend flight to NC sometime.

  2. I would love to see you Carolyn. To give you a big hug and talk in person would be quite an experience.
    I really feel that in order to get 'better' I need to release these ghosts in my closet. Hopefully it doesn't conjure up too much pain for you but I really appreciate your feedback.
    Sharing your commonality with me is a big step as well. We both deserve a pat on the back!