Sunday, February 21, 2010

The keeper of secrets

The photos are of the appetizers as well as my main course ordered last night when I went out to dinner with my dad. Before I can discuss the food, I need to rewind some.

My father is an alcoholic. He stopped drinking when I was 18. Even though he went through rehab, he spent many years later as a "dry drunk." For those of you not familiar with the phrase, it means that while he stopped drinking, he continued his behavior. From the time that I was about 10 or so until I was 28 my relationship with my father was tenuous at best. The following ten years were fabulous; I had the dad I had always wanted, the dad that I remembered from when I was five. And then his siblings started to die as well as his wife and he eventually started drinking again. So in many ways my dad and I have returned to the relationship we had when I was 16 -- he writes a check and that is about all of our contact.

Yesterday I drove to Sacto to partake of the annual event that I have done since 1999 when I stopped working for my dad -- doing the books to make sure they are ready for the accountant for tax return preparation. After a few hours a took a break to go have a cigarette; my dad was already outside having a cigar at the time. After I lit up, he said that there was another reason why he had wanted me to come up for the weekend. And with those words, I knew what was coming next. My dad is getting married -- for the third time -- in October. My first reaction was to be happy for him. He doesn't do well on his own. Even though I had only met his fiance on two occasions -- one of which ended up with me not speaking to my mom for months -- I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.

But when I was ready to get to work, there was a problem. My dad had been sitting at his desk and I in the chair across the desk. He eventually got up and excused himself so I could get to work. When I went behind his desk, thankfully I looked down -- and saw a noticeable wet spot on the seat. I blotted the spot with a nearby tissue and then held it up for a whiff and confirmed what I thought. (And some of y'all probably wonder why at times I carry so much baggage. On the outside it may seem like I have led a charmed life but really?) I switched out the chair and he asked me about it when he returned but I just gave him a look.

And I worked on trying to absorb the information about his impending marriage. And then I got to that check -- the one with her name on it. And then it all came back. I could have pulled the report to see about the activity for that "vendor" but I didn't. Because until last June the name meant nothing to me. But four, five years ago when I first saw it, I had no clue. They were supposed to be repayment for a loan but there was never a deposit that matched. One of the weird things in my family is that people think that they can expose me to random bits of information and that I will not be able to connect the dots. Hello. According to the tests I took in school, I have an IQ of 148. And I have social skills on top of that. Tonight I called my cousin who has always been an older sister to me. She told me that my father had been planning to divorce my stepmother for his current fiance but then my stepmother got sick. So yeah, my mother was right but we'll never tell her that.

So now you have the background. The food? Appetizers from the dinner that my dad had planned for the three of us. The third photo is my entree. I knew we were going out but until I heard about the engagement, I thought it would be just me and my dad.

We had time to kill before dinner. And this is when I went into my old role as the enabler. Before dinner, my dad and I killed a bottle of white wine at his house. And then I like a fool got in the car with him. On the way to the restaurant, the car drifted into the oncoming lane several times. This is why I stopped spending weekends with my dad when I was 12 or so. I got tired of worrying about whether I would live through the weekend.

So we got to the restaurant and he suggested to us -- me and his fiance -- that we order wine. Well, actually it seemed more like a conversation between that two of them. Thankfully the drive home was less eventful.

Today I had planned to hit the road home early. The drive home is about 95 miles. But once I was dressed, my dad informed me that we were going to breakfast. And so we went to her home. So that I could see her for the fourth time in my life. At the restaurant, they ordered Mimosas. I ordered coffee.

Here's the thing. I like the woman as a person. We could so be friends. She won't tell her age but I guess that she is about ten years older than I. But her age doesn't bother me so much. Her enabler/codependent behavior. I sat there today while she never questioned and in fact seemed to encourage my father's negative traits -- things that my stepmother and my mother never would have tolerated. And I thought to myself that I have to disconnect from this whole situation because in the end it will not be good. I have to save myself.

Then I tried calling the folks who I knew with whom I could be completely honest. Outside of here, those folks are few and far between. Part of the dysfunction is that you disavow the truth; I've always had a hard time with this part of the program. Yes, I can lie like a champ but at my core I believe in absolute honesty -- even if I need to be blunt. I knew that most family members would be ecstatic beyond belief. They would say that my concerns meant nothing. So first I called my estranged aunt by marriage. She told me that I need to talk to my dad. I said that I couldn't see how.

Then I called my cousin; she has always been my older sister. She confirmed my suspicions. She also told me that her mother had indeed had a chat with my dad about his drinking before she died last April. My cousin asked me if I had ever watched the show "Intervention." She said that I was the only person to whom my dad will listen. And talking to her, it came to me. I just have to tell him the truth. Continue down this path and you can no longer be a part of my life. I've done this before but it wasn't about his sobriety. My stance there has always been that he needs to make the decision on his own; just like no one could keep me alive except for me back when I was suicidal, no one else can make him stop drinking. But I want him to understand why I am walking away just like this time if I have to walk away from my mom, I will explain it to her. This will be something new. I have spent years walking away without explaining. I just never thought the explanation was necessary. I thought that if you were in the same moment with me that you would understand.

And so now I sit here with the realization that I am about to lose both of my parents. I will lose my mother to her obsession with my father's life and my unwillingness to become a part of the dynamic at this point in my life. And I will lose my father to his addiction once more. And knowing this, I am trying my best to hold it all together. But don't worry about me. I have loads of experience at being the adult and holding it all together. I mean I've been doing it since I was ten years old. I'm a seasoned pro at this shit.


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