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.