Sins of My Father

On Thursday evening I received a call from Vietnam notifying me that my father had finally drunk himself into oblivion and is in hospital and not responding well to medical care.

Ever since he settled into expat life in Asia many years ago I knew this call would come. He has been alcoholic and therefore a lousy father my entire life and the reason he was drawn to the expat lifestyle is that it allowed him to embrace his alcoholism far away from the judging eyes of his family. He isn’t a nice alcoholic either. He is one of those grumpy ones: mean and on edge all day before he has had his first drink, nice-ish and kinda entertaining until so many drinks in and then slurry / useless / mean for the remainder of the session until it is time to pass out.

I have to tell you when I took that call from his friend I was pretty happy to be able to say “Oh I can’t travel, I’m 30 weeks pregnant”. I felt bad but only because it meant my brother, now based in Singapore and closer anyway, would have to go and pick up the pieces and coordinate his return to Australia for appropriate medical treatment. While my brother is closer in location they have only just moved to Singapore and he has a new job, a pregnant wife, an 18 month old child, and a need to find permanent accommodation ASAP so it is hardly like he has the time to just pop on over himself to sort out Dad’s repatriation. Still, he is a champion and he did it.

Apparently he studied all last weekend to take an exam so he could spend this Easter long weekend with his wife and child and instead he is spending it organising medical repatriation for our father which includes footing the bill until we can try to get some money back to him. The problem being that my Dad is likely to come to when he gets well and say “I never wanted to come back anyway, I’m not paying for it” because like I said, he is an arsehole alcoholic.

So on Tuesday I am going to begin the joyous process of getting a court order to award my brother Power of Attorney while we are going through this process so we can access his accounts and seek a reimbursement for at least some of the $25k+ it is going to take to get him back here. I don’t care if we leave the dude skint (and by that I do not mean we will take more than the cost of the transport, I just mean it might be all he has). He got himself into this situation through personal choice and it is no-one else’s responsibility to fund his costs if he has the money.

This is a man who worked under an assumed name when we were kids so he didn’t have to pay my mother child support. He has missed countless birthdays for all us 3 kids and swears at you for not placing a glass back in the kitchen cupboard the right way up, or for not walking fast enough or too fast or not realising where he left his keys when he got home an hour ago even though you weren’t there to see him at the time.

Over the years I have made a number of attempts to build a relationship with my father – this was obviously before I was old enough to realise he was incapable of it. The first time I remember clearly. I was around 17/18 years old and mailed him a letter and a daddy/daughter poem. I said in the letter that I wanted us to work on having a relationship that was like that in the poem (oh I was so naive). Instead of seeing that as an attempt for me to build a connection he took it as a personal insult (because by saying I wanted that it meant that we didn’t have it already). He never ever spoken to me about that letter, just pretended he didn’t receive it, but my brother who was living with him at the time told me that the response was not positive and the he ranted and raved about it at length. It is like he can’t deal with the shame of having failed as a parent so he deflects the blame to whoever else is pointing out the problem.

As a result of his completely shitting fathering I have gone on to have classic daddy/daughter issues with men. I have never been interested in the men who like me. Instead I went for damaged goods who weren’t relationship ready but would like to fuck me and hang out a bit and then I worked on trying to convince them to love me. Exhausting. And probably how I ended up with Eric in the first place to be honest. Things with him have worked out better than I’d have ever anticipated but more because I stopped trying to make it work and he made his way to me on his own. Oh and we have both worked hard on our own shit in the process.

I have also teetered on he edge of alcoholism and drug abuse myself, my self awareness of my addictive nature handed down from dear old dad being the only thing that saved me in the end.

But anyway, I digress.

So you can see why I might not be all that sympathetic to my dad right now and not overly anxious for anyone to go into heavily into debt just save him from himself.

Once his healthy improves we will of course have a convo about drying out / rehab / recovery but whether or not he is receptive is another thing.  I have asked him to go into rehab a number of times over the years; the last time was 2 years ago and he hasn’t spoken to me since. He did email me for my birthday last November which I took as an olive branch so I sent a friendly reply and told him about the baby and guess what? He never responded. Such a quality human being that man. Quality.

Today has been a total write off just with the stress of it all and I am ever so thankful for my glorious neighbour who has taken Monkey for a play with her kids and then listened to me talk about it over coffee for flipping hours. I want to hug my brother who is nothing short of an amazing human being. We are so fortunate he is in a position where he can carry this debt for a short period while we sort out access to cash and it stresses me that I can’t help in that way or be sure he will ever see that money again. What stresses me more is that we have to ask for help from family who don’t really want to help him as he has been nothing but an arsehole to them for years. I hate putting them in that sort of position.

And after all this the real problem is that when my dad recovers he is just as likely to walk out of hospital to the airport and straight back on a flight to Vietnam and do it all again without so much as a backward glance. Because that’s the disease.

Fuck you alcoholism. Fuck you, Dad for continuing to make poor choices your whole life. You know my dad was always the boy that had so much promise. He is an extremely intelligent guy and everyone around him expected him to do well in life. Instead it has come to this. So sad.

 

 

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38 thoughts on “Sins of My Father

  1. That sucks and is really stressful. My understanding is you can’t get power of attorney without the person consenting and being sound of mind, I think you’ll find you need to apply for a emergency guardianship order. I have done a few of these through work let me know if you need any advice xx

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  2. I’m so sorry to hear this – it sounds so stressful! I have some experience of alcoholism and I can empathise. It really isn’t anything that anyone else can deal with. I hope you manage to get your dad home to recover. Your brother sounds amazing (and it goes without saying that you are, too!). Xx

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  3. I am so sorry. All of your emotions seem more than valid. Thanks for sharing with us and I will be thinking of all of you. Life just hands you shit sometimes. It’s unfair. You, however, seem to be working it out elegantly and ensuring your life and your family’s life are much different than what you experienced with your dad. That makes you a hero, do you know that?

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    • Awwwww thx hon. Yeah it makes it very clear how different I want life to be for my children and makes me so happy I chose Eric to be their dad. He is a rock star and would never be this parent.

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  4. Hugs to you, mama. This is all so sad and stressful. My heart hurts for you right now. Your brother sounds awesome. I’m glad you guys turned out great despite crappy fathering. Email me if you need an ear, or we can set up another Skype too. I’ll be thinking of you!

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  5. I hate you have to go through this, and I have no words of wisdom or advice, so instead, I’m sending you love and hugs and prayers and good energy to help you get through this! I’m sending big emotional support your way! You can do this and while family won’t want to help him, you have great support and family and friends to help you, and that’s what really matters!

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  6. What a shirt situation. I’m sorry for you and your family, having to deal with all of this. Stay strong and remember that you, your health and your baby come first. Good luck with everything. xoxo

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  7. I’m so sorry about this. My family battles addiction (alcoholism mostly but drugs/pills as well), and it’s exhausting. I hope the process goes smoothly & as painless as possible getting things figured out!

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  8. Yuck, what a terrible situation. I hope it all sorts out in the best way possible. So glad you have your brother to handle some of the details and carry some of the weight. Hugs!

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  9. I’m so sorry that you and your family are dealing with this right now. It’s so unfair when a parent makes horrible choices and it then pushes everything onto the kids. While I was reading this it made me think so much of my ex-uncle. He’s been an alcoholic every since I’ve known him (I think I was maybe 13-ish when my aunt got together with him, so a very long time.) When my cousin was born, he would take her with him to the fire hall (he was a volunteer fireman) drunk and drive home with her drunk. He just got worse as the years went on, and thankfully my aunt finally left him a couple years ago and took my cousin with her. Sadly, she knows her father is useless, and really expects nothing from him. So while I don’t have personal experience with this, I’ve seen it firsthand and had it in my family. I know how very hard it can be to deal with. I do hope that you’re able to get the power of attorney set up and get some money back. Maybe someone will be able to talk some sense into your father, for his own sake, and for your peace of mind. Hang in there. *hugs*

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  10. Oh man I’m sorry you’re going through this stress.I’m sorry your dad has treated you as he has and now placed a big stressful situation on you at a time that have enough with your pregnancy. I hope your brother is able to get power of attorney and you get the best possible situation xx

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  11. Oh goodness me. What a nightmare. I’m actually kind of glad that you are pregnant and can’t fly in and rescue him, and your brother is a star for stepping in to sort it all out. It sounds as though you have your Dad all figured out and realise that he’ll never be the father you would have chosen. Acceptance is a big part of moving on and I talked a lot to my counsellor about this with my mum (cause you never really stop wishing they’ll be the parent they should have been). I am so sorry you have to deal with this now and I hope he appreciates what you and your brother do to get him home. xxxxx

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    • Yeah me too! I am definitely in my acceptance phase with my dad. I have no expectations of him to be thoughtful or parent like toward me at all. It is a pretty sad point to reach but most certainly the easiest on the emotions. Xx

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  12. Mate, no words…. I know what it’s like to have an alcoholic parent, but not at the levels of assholery that you’ve had to deal with. Good on you for breaking the cycle. Your children will never experience the same pain x

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    • Yes I have to say I am beyond thrilled that my daughter in particular will have such a great father. She will expect nothing less than to be treated well and will seek that in her relationships. I feel more relief around that than I realised. X

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  13. I am so sorry that you are going through this, and the timing is just appalling too. The good things that I hear are that you have the support of your brother and your writing sings of your love and respect for him. That is not always the case between the children of alcoholics. I am amazed that the two of you can still find it in your hearts to pick up the phone and swing into action! Alcoholism is a terrible disease that destroys everything good in its path and has horribly high relapse rates. Take care of yourself xx

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    • Yes there was certainly a part of us that didn’t want to do this for him because he chose his path but really, we went raised to not look out for our family. I have 2 brothers and we are all close and that is right down to my loving and supportive mum. She did it all. Such a wonderful woman. 🙂

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