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My dad, may he rest in piece, honor, and love.


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My dad was a US Marine for over half of my life. After he had been honored into Major status, he was forced to retire due to being newly diagnosed with bipolar 2. For all of my life he had struggled with depression, anxiety, and severe alcoholism that would be one of the issues into our household. When he was deployed, my mom made the house feel as normal as can be. And for a while when he would return home from overseas, things would still be normal -- however, I would still find myself nervous around him due to the continuous pattern that eventually would occur. Once he would come home, things would be relatively normal for a short while. Then eventually there would be arguments between my parents that would frankly mold how I would view my dad.

However, as I got older and my parents eventually divorced, I would see him in a better light especially after he remarried. For a while he seemed happier -- as if HE had finally found a really healthy normalcy that I would hope would continue for a while. It wasn't until something changed did I begin to realize my dad's struggles, especially as I myself would start to see the same thing. My dad and stepmother had to separate for a while -- not separate their marriage, just physical separation as my dad was still trying to figure himself out. However, in doing so he only painted his own path towards self-destruction. He began drinking heavily again, making it harder and harder again to contact him on a day that he wasn't fully intoxicated. I could hardly text him and believe he would even see the text on some days -- he would miss his fathers day texts by accident and would think that I never acknowledged him, causing stress on himself.

My dad had a good heart. He was a great friend, a fantastic leader, and he tried his best to be a good dad and make up for what he was as a husband with my mother to my stepmother. But on November 29th, 2020, he woke up that morning only to shortly pass away due to alcohol poisoning from the previous night. My older brother found him in the RV he was staying in. He died at 47.

Towards the end of his life he tried his best to step up and be a father to us, valuing our relationships and apparently always talked about his daughters. This was a time where I was beginning to feel as if I was starting to actually know who my father was, his struggles, and why he was thinking the way he did. To clear his anxiety from thinking he might be a bad father, when he didn't respond to my text on father's day 2020, I sent him an extensive email telling him how much he meant to me, just because I knew that he would eventually text and ask "why we did not acknowledge him", when simply he misses the text. It worked. Three days later he was ready to text me the question when he saw that I had texted him on father's day. I told him to check his email, and he told me that I had said everything he desperately needed to hear. Our bond was just starting to build. Due to COVID, I was not able to go down and see my dad for Thanksgiving. No one was, and even though my dad would never want us to stew on the thought of "if we went down for Thanksgiving, he might not have suffered as much", but it is one of those grains mixed in the many things of wishing we could have done something to make his suffering less so.

I feel as if our relationship was cut short. And that now I find myself having days where I try and get to know my dad even better, even though he is no longer here. I wanted our bond to be stronger. He felt like a mystery to me all of my life, but now that I've come to an age where my empathy is strong enough to understand just exactly how ill he was and the struggles he went through. These days where I want to "get to know" my dad will look like listening to music that makes me think of him or his passing, or stewing on a dream or feeling of how he would feel with me right now. I've been having dreams where the general feeling is that he's proud of me and wants to see me succeed or that I have potential to get far in life. All of which are things that he had actively voiced to me. I've saved the only voicemail I had of his in fear of forgetting his voice, and sometimes I will think back on how nervous he would sound, how short and to-the-point our phone calls always were, all as if I'm trying to find hidden messages.

Since the funeral in December, I don't find myself crying a lot. Today was the first time in a few weeks that I found myself crying over him and it was because I had an aforementioned dream last night, and listened to a couple of songs about his passing and how they meant. I try and use my gift into helping my stepmom and others who will listen to me, because I know my dad saw something in me that would be helpful to others who are struggling in this situation. Part of me is hoping I'm carrying on the positive light that he would want me to learn from in his legacy, and actively work down the path that does not meet the same downfall as he did.

I'm very sorry for this length. I have been going to therapy weekly, but I haven't been able to cover all of this just yet and needed to let it out somewhere.

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I am so sorry for your loss.  My dad was an alcoholic too.  We can feel love for them while not liking the parts of them that caused pain and anguish to us and our siblings.  My dad was a weak man, my mom in control, my dad ineffectual, so I looked for men the opposite...ended up with a controller for 23 years!  Nope, not good either!  Learned from it, sometimes we go completely the opposite from our bad experience, but then learn to find something more aligned with what we truly need, honoring ourselves.

I miss my dad, the good parts of him.  Not the dad that stood me up for the father-daughter banquet in Bluebirds because he went out drinking all night.  Not the one who sat idly by while my mom beat on me.  But the dad I could hike with, the dad who was funny and loving.  Our lives would have been so different if not for alcohol.  I raised my kids as a teetotaler, my son has opted to never take the first sip and find out, my daughter has a drink maybe once a year at a wedding and is not an alcoholic.  I'm so thankful for that.  Of my siblings it was 50/50 but now none of us are drinkers, my little sister maybe once in a while, also not alcoholic.  It's on both sides of my kids' family, thankfully all of them are under control now.  It can be a hard heritage but we are in charge of our destiny, our choices, we don't have to let what our parents did define us.  

Crying isn't imperative, it's okay if you do or don't cry, just so long as you don't squelch the tears if you do feel them coming. 

I try to forgive the un-comely things and carry his strengths, he was a hard worker and a good man, but oh how better it'd have been if he'd never turned to alcohol to kill his woes.  It's not anyone's "friend."  Coming to peace with who they were and incorporating the good and forgiving the bad is so important for us going forward, it sounds like you're on the right track!  It's good that you're seeing a therapist, I had counseling for years!  I'm a wise old bitty in my old age, but oh it took a lifetime to get there!  ;)

http://www.griefhealingblog.com/2013/02/parent-loss-continuing-their-song.html

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