My blog is about the scenic, stressful, spectacular life (and everything screwy in between) of a
California girl turned expat transplanted to the land down under: North Queensland, Australia.

October 02, 2010

Day 4.

Oh boy. the question today is:

Day 4: Something you have to forgive someone else for.

Remember in my last post I said just because I have to forgive someone else doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to? Yeah, that applies here as well. I’ve never really been one to hold a grudge. I’m the peacemaker. If a conflict arises between me and someone else, I’ll usually bend and apologize (even if I KNOW I’m right) just so there isn’t any bad blood. But as I’ve grown into adulthood, I realize one of the people I held so high in my childhood isn’t what I thought they were. That person is my dad.

My parents had me out of wedlock. They married when I was three and got an annulment when I was three. I always ask my mom why in the world she ended up with my dad (the absolute polar opposite of my mom), and she said his charisma and intelligence got her. My dad says he courted my mom because there was a bet between his friends on who could bag her first (my mom’s hot. True story!). Back then my dad owned his own landscaping company, his own house, had two cars, a boat, and a 4x4. According to my mom, one night she came home with me and my two half-siblings and the house was in shambles. Apparently my dad got so high on cocaine he broke everything in the house. We moved from place to place for a few years and finally settled in an apartment a few blocks away.

Growing up, I remember my dad as the coolest guy in the world. He never treated me like a kid. He wanted to talk to me about issues, teach me about politics, and take me everywhere. He was exciting. My mom worked her ass off to raise three kids alone, but back then I thought she just wasn’t as interested in me as my dad was. My dad never laid a hand on me. If I did something bad, he would use logic on me so I could understand the error of my ways. The two weekends a month I would spend with him were the best of my childhood. We would eat Del Taco and Squirt for dinner and I would hang out with my neighbour until 4am and walk back home to go to sleep. No skin off my dad’s back. As a matter of fact, my dad would be wide awake at 4am in the toolshed or with friends in his office, so he really didn’t notice where I was.

Dad would always agree to pick me up at a scheduled time. He must have had the biggest jalopy in the world because he would always be late or not show up because “my car broke down”, “my car ran out of gas on the freeway”, “I got a speeding ticket”. I would turn around on the couch and stare out the window waiting for him, getting excited at every car that drove on our block thinking it was him. Our wild adventures would have to wait until the next day, since he was on average about three hours late picking me up each time, or not at all. He would promise to take me bowling, or to Disneyland, or shopping first thing in the morning. Morning would come and it would always be “one more hour of sleep, Hed”. I would sit in the living room and watch cartoons and eat snacks until 4pm or so when he would finally wake up. I remember a lot of our adventures happening late at night, like bowling at 10pm. Maybe that’s why I’m a night person now.

I always defended my dad to my mom. She would always complain that when I came back from my dad’s, I was always worse-mannered then when I left (I’m assuming that’s what unlimited Squirt soda and candy does to a child). She didn’t get it. My dad was cool! I spent less and less time with my dad in my pre-teens, partly because I was a pre-teen and too cool for my dad (he did let me have a boy/girl party in 6th grade where we played spin the bottle, though). It never occurred to me that my dad was a drug addict strung out on methamphetamines.

When I became a teenager and did drugs myself, I finally started seeing the signs. My dad had no teeth (because he got them punched out or smacked up against something). My dad slept at really weird hours (because he worked odd jobs). There were people coming and going out of his house at every time of day (because he had a lot of friends). My dad was extremely moody (because my bitch of a mom pushed for so much child support). We grew apart, but my dad was always a part of my life.

Around 2003 my dad finally sobered up and got into NA. He became a regional spokesperson and attended every meeting that was available. I went to his one year meeting with him and he gave me his sobriety chip. I was really proud of him. This is also the time he started dating bitch face (we’ll call her BF). BF was very nice, but really weird. She would always take over the conversation when I tried to talk to my dad, talking about things I could honestly give a shit about, like her dog having puppies or what she ate the night before. And when I would be talking to my dad, out of the corner of my eye I would always notice her staring at me. She also drank a lot. A lot. I never saw my dad drink. He wasn’t a drinker (maybe because he was on speed and had no appetite?), but he would always buy rounds for me and my boyfriends, and always keep up with her. I thought, whatever, okay, as long as he’s not on drugs and happy. I hate to say this, but I almost like my drug dad better than my drunk dad.

It started to become hard to talk to him. Anytime I would ask to spend some time with my dad alone BF would have a fit and would demand to come with us, so I started calling him instead. She always wanted to get on the phone and talk to me, with her slurred speech and almost angry tone. Whenever I would talk to my dad about private issues, he would immediately tell her about them and she’d fly off the handle. They would argue and throw punches and more than once cops have been called (my dad was even thrown in jail for domestic violence after he pushed her away and she fell onto the coffee table and got cuts from the glass). Still, he was loyal to her. Eventually I would time the calls to when I knew my dad would (rarely) be at work so he would be sober and away from her. Those were good moments. But something happened that I will never, ever get over.

In the summer of 2008 I was planning my wedding. I didn’t really involve my dad because all he needed to do was be in a suit and show up to walk me down the aisle. One day the phone rang and it was my dad. I cringed and let it go to voice mail. I checked it a few hours later and it was my dad, drunk, telling me I told BF that he molested me as a kid. What. The. Fuck??? My dad never even spanked me. The only time I ever spoke more than two words to BF was as a courtesy to my father. I was in shock. For someone to try and push someone’s buttons by saying something as vile and wrong as that was obscene. I wanted to rip out her throat. I called back, and BF answered the phone. I as calmly as possible said my father has never, ever done anything to ever hurt me, that when they argue to never, ever mention my name and that this was the last time I would ever speak to my father again. I told her to tell my dad I loved him and hung up the phone. Then I lost it.

As the peacemaker I am, I called him a couple of months later and attempted to bury the hatchet. I told him he (they, unfortunately) was welcome at my wedding but my stepfather of 16 years would be walking me down the aisle. He did come to my wedding, and I made sure when the preacher said, “who gives away this woman?” that my stepdad said “her father, her mother, and I do”. The three of them made me who I am, and I wanted to pay respect to all of them. Dad and BF stopped by at the reception dinner, then left to gamble and check-in, and that was the second to last time I’ve seen him since.

When I started to really bring my Bipolar into focus, I quickly realized my dad is a manic depressive. I’ve tried to bring it up to him, but he denies it. I‘ve talked to him about how hard it has been for me growing up with it, and he throws out the “well I’m not to blame for that; you need to take responsibility for your own actions”. It’s a lost cause. I couldn’t bring myself to say goodbye to him face-to-face when I left for Australia because I wanted to have the picture in my head of my dad as he used to be. I did call him on his birthday this past month and it was painful. He asked me where I was, and when I told him on the Eastern coast of Australia, he replied, “it’s like New Zealand all over again”. Huh??

My dad used to tell me, “you don’t have to like your parents, but you have to love them”, and that’s exactly how I feel about him. I will be sad when he dies and I will be grateful that he gave me his charisma, intelligence and sense of humour. I wish I could talk to my dad about me, photography, life, politics…everything. But he isn’t the person he used to be. On the bright side of all of this is my Aunt (my dad’s 2-year-older sister) and I have started communicating regularly after…well, just now I guess. I never really knew her, only heard stories and was told, “you’re just like your Aunt Rox”. All of the qualities that made my dad awesome she possesses, and she has taken many steps to help me come to terms with my dad and who he is. It’s hard for me to say I forgive my dad, because he chose drugs as his depression treatment and never knew how to grow up. My biggest fear in life is that I’m just like him, and I will end up like him-alone with nothing to show for my life.


  1. Wow, you have had so much going on in your life, it is hard to say something here, but I am reading your blog with interest, and following your journey....sending you some happy thoughts, EL x

  2. Hed...not going to happen. You're much smarter and much stronger than your Dad. It's so sad what drugs and alcohol can do to a person. And if they choose to continue do to them there's nothing you can do. You can love them but you don't have to like them. It's bittersweet. You really are remarkable. Remember that!!! Hugs

  3. Thank you for sharing. This must have been a difficult post to write.

    We all have our demons within families, you are not alone there.


  4. Thank you my dear, for the ultimate compliment. I think the universe sent us along to connect at the perfect time and I love you dearly. I feel the same way about your dad, and curse my dreadful grandmother (mother's mother) daily for her role in the downhill rolling destruction of so many generations. I escaped because at 18 I left and went as far as I could in the other direction and stayed away for well over 10 years. Everyone else in the immediate family is hopelessy warped and tied together in a grotesque way. So sad, but you and I got out so let's celebrate that! Next year, I'm coming over so get ready! Keep writing! (that's your next tattoo)

  5. and its not Terry! He was logged in and I didn't notice, its Rox. LOL