Many of you have read and responded to my post, regarding the message that I received from my mother, the day my dad died. All I can say is, thank you for your wonderful words of encouragement and understanding. I actually didn’t even see that she had sent me that until the day I arrived into Bahrain. But, the sheer fact that it was sent the day of his death - it still baffles me and have sat in a total state of disgust.
(Here is a link to that post)
My dad had a no regrets policy when it came to his children seeing their drug-addicted mother. He protected us from the hate that was being thrown at him, but he made sure that if we desired a relationship, we would have total access to her - even if he knew our desires would throw us into a total depression. While I’ll save this story for another post, the first year she was gone, I visited her at the location of the motorhome she was living out of. This story ended in the scariest position that I have ever been in. As her meth-addicted male friends ascended upon the scene, I remember running to my father’s car and crying to him - saying, I never want to see that sight ever again. So, I chose to only see my mom in places that would be safe - restaurants or my grandmother’s (her mother’s) home.
After trying that a few times and realizing that the visions of my mother were too hard, I decided to end her visitation (not that the courts had granted her any, in the beginning. Thank God.).
In that, I had received (with my dad) the brunt of all manipulation and drug-induced psychotic episodes. Unlike other family members who would hang up on her, I argued back. You see, I have always been a firm believer in telling people exactly how they’ve blessed or hurt you. Sometimes, I don’t find the words - and yes, I can be wrong in my delivery, at times. But, the first ten years of my mother’s illness was spent with me screaming at the phone when we would speak. Just like the prior email, she would begin bad-mouthing my father, and that is when the gloves would come flying off. It was mostly me telling her that she had no room to speak about a man who decided to be with his children, rather than take drugs and cheat on his spouse. Then, the fury would begin - I would hang up the phone, sit in a fetal position, and rock myself back and forth while sobbing. I call those my victim years.
Yes, my victim years. While it was unconscious victimization, I felt like I was the only person in the world that had ever dealt with a mother as vile and sick as she was. I never wanted anyone to know the pain, and I didn’t want to put on a face that I had a perfect life either. So, I hid.
I had three good friends in high school, and I rotated through them each year. Really, it felt like I only had one friend during each season. The three included two women who knew my mom when she was well, and the other had experienced her sickness, full force, when she abandoned us at the Cascade Mall for eight hours while she gambled - then, picked us up and left us in the vehicle for another five hours while she was “getting me a burger” inside the casino. Let’s just say, that night ended with the friend’s mother almost calling the police, and she wasn’t allowed to come over to my house anymore - rightfully so. All in all, my life was just too fucked up for anyone to be allowed in. So much had happened by the time I entered high school, my depression caused me to sleep through most classes (leading to me in failing every single one, my freshman year), and it was just easier for me to not include anyone in on it all. Plus, I had zero resources.
Something that families do have is Nar-Anon (aka “Narcotic Family Groups”). However, when I would visit, people were sobbing all over the place, and it made me feel worse about my situation - that being the first sign that I wasn’t a full blown victim. So I would sit at home, hours upon hours, and Google “Children of Drug Addicts”. There were absolutely no resources for this. Yes, I found stuff for kids of alcoholics, but there was zero information on what I was going through. And, having not one person to connect with was one of the loneliest things you can dream of.
I was lucky enough to have a father who took care of me, but trying to find a kid at school...nobody was going to admit that their live-in-parent was a drug addict. Undoubtedly, CPS would just swoop right in. To be honest, us kids were doing everything in our power to keep our drug-addicted family members alive - so, we wouldn’t dare speak to anyone about the situation. Them being taken away by courts would surely kill their parent worse than the drugs were softly killing the child’s mental state. But my self-imposed secrecy was what began a whisper of driven purpose.
While I could find no online resources, I would tell myself, “one day, Candice. One day”. And oh, how I wanted it, right then. I would work so hard, in my late teens to early-twenties, to write it all out. But, when I found a tiny inkling of inspiration, I had no tools. It was if I was trying to teach my nephew how to build furniture without a screwdriver - it just wasn’t an adequate coupling. Anytime I would attempt to write something from the heart, I was terrified that my mom would read it and my father would receive more text messages or calls, right to his business line. Because, that’s the thing about my mother - she always has a new phone number to you harass with. There was never any blocking her.
So, I stayed silent for my father.
You know how in “Titanic”, Jack must die so that Rose can live out her life in the way that she always was born to? I, unfortunately, feel like that with my father’s death.
And as I cry in anguish while writing this, I could not tell my story while my dad was alive - Lord knows I have waited long enough to be truly honest with myself and my listeners.
I would give anything to have him back, healthy alive. But, his situation is final and he has truly given me the greatest gift in being able to write this tale - in its entirety.
I have witnessed some of the worst things that a daughter will ever have to - her mother cracked out and the life of her father slowly leaving his body (and not in the romanticized way that Hollywood portrays).
Currently, I hurt every second because of the visuals that I have had replayed in my mind.
However, what I realize now what I didn’t when I was younger - I am not alone. I can either fold like a house of cards - succumbing to the same storyline that my mother chose when she, herself, watched her father die of cancer. Or, I can stand up and realize that I had a dream of telling this story since I was 15 years old - I just needed loose ends to tie.
I have seen, felt, and heard it all. I am the author of my own story, living without fear of the unknown or worries of repercussions.
And my life?
It truly began the day my father died.