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Getting Back the Relationship Alcohol Took Away From Me

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Last year, my dad passed away.

I’ve been contemplating what to say because there’s a lot I’ve held in for a very long time, but I want to say absolutely everything. I want to tell the absolute truth. I want everybody to know my honest and true feelings about everything.

Every single person who knows me knows I don’t talk about my dad publicly that often. Nobody knows what my family and I had to go through growing up.

Alcohol ruined my father’s life. Alcohol ruined my family. Alcohol ruined my childhood.

We never had friends stay the night growing up because we couldn’t. The main reason was both of my parents were alcoholics, and they still are (were).

I was about 8 years old when I started to notice this, but I didn’t really know this wasn’t normal behavior at the time. I was just a kid.

There were so many nights we would have to do the dishes or cook our own dinners because our parents were too intoxicated to take care of us, including several times where they would nearly burn the house down because they passed out while cooking dinner. Having an older brother helped, but we all fended for ourselves from a young age.

It wasn’t only that they were alcoholics, but they were abusive alcoholics.

It wasn’t until recently I ever brought it up to anybody. Honestly, most of my best friends don’t even know this. It’s something we’ve never really discussed in our family.

One specific occasion, we were in eighth grade, my father was so intoxicated he started to beat my mom and attack us. We ran to the neighbors house and called 911. He wasn’t charged and nothing happened.

Nothing happened.

These events became reoccurring after this. However, one specific event traumatized me more than anything else in my life.

My dad attempted suicide during my senior year in high school.

One morning, the soundtrack for “O Brother Where Art Thou?” was playing on repeat in my parents’ bedroom as I was getting ready for school. It was around 6 a.m. and I was just finishing taking a shower before school when we noticed my dad was blue in the face and cold. He had tried overdosing.

We were in a panic. We had never been in this situation and didn’t know what to do because we were kids.

In this urgent time of need, my mother left the house. She left us to deal with this because she said she had to go to work. She left us. She completely abandoned us.

We were in high school.

We didn’t know what to do, so we loaded my dad into my brother’s car and drove him to the closest hospital. We were there for a couple hours watching my dad convulse as he had his stomach pumped. After a couple hours, we decided to leave and then decided to go to school.

I still think about this day over and over again. It literally haunts me. I don’t I will ever forgive my mother.

Shortly after this, we found out my dad had cheated on my mother during Thanksgiving weekend. It was my last Thanksgiving I spent at home, and my dad wasn’t there. This same weekend he ended up in jail with a DUI.

I was still a senior in high school, but moved out shortly after this. It was too much to handle living at home. I mentally couldn’t deal with it anymore. I had accumulated so many missed days I nearly failed senior year and half of the reason was because I had nobody at home to light a fire under my ass.

I didn’t speak to my parents at all the rest of the school year. I didn’t go visit home for prom. I kept them completely away from me.

I didn’t speak to anybody at home after this except my sister, who I shared homeroom with.

The last time I talked to my dad was my graduation day. May 31, 2007, in which he didn’t attend. It doesn’t really bother me as much now as it bothered me then.

I honestly thought I would never talk to him ever again. I assumed the next thing I would ever hear from anybody is that my dad was dead in a ditch somewhere.

Part of me wanted that. Part of me felt betrayed. Part of me had hated my dad for everything he had put us through for no reason. I had pretty much thought our relationship was over.

I got a phone call while I was at work on a random Saturday in September of 2015. It was from my sister crying. It was about my dad.

My Aunt Rhonda (who I don’t recall ever speaking to up until this point) had emailed my sister that my dad was extremely sick in the hospital. She felt it was important that we knew what was going on.

He had developed sepsis after having pneumonia and was in a coma.

Every single day I would go to the hospital and visit my dad. My sister would go in the morning, work all day, and go back to the hospital. I don’t know how she did it, but she did.

It was our routine for a few weeks. With his medicine, he kept referring to me as Jeff (his brother), it took weeks before he eventually called me Sterling.

Every single day my sister and I would go back and talk to our dad. It was then I realized it was the first time in my entire life I had conversed with my dad while he was sober.

It felt like it was the first time we had ever talked because honestly, it was. I had been completely robbed out of a relationship with my dad because of alcohol addiction.

I could see that he really cared about me and my sister, and he wanted to talk and get to know me and about my life. I had never had that before with him. I was robbed of that as a child.

I wanted to speak of this now because I feel like there’s a lot of people who have also been through this. Maybe you know people who are struggling now?

I’ve been holding in this dark secret part of my life for so long and now it’s time to open up to the world and finally lift this heavy burden free.

I love you dad and we’ll miss you.

Follow this journey on Team Sterlo’s Blog.

Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash

Originally published: July 23, 2019
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