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Monday, February 4, 2013

My Dad

After my suicide attempt, life went on and I didn't think too much about it. I know I shared it with a few close friends, but I'm not sure when or how I told them. It was tough admitting. I felt weak,  embarrassed and scared that people would lose any respect they had for me. That was 28 years ago and much has happened since that time. As a teen I went to counseling, trying to work out my issues surrounding my dysfunctional family. As an adult I have gone to counseling much, checking in from time to time. Mark and I saw someone after finding out about Teale's gastroschisis in 1998, as there was a 30% chance she would not survive. But the two times I worked the hardest were long before I was pregnant with any of our children. As a young adult before meeting Mark and shortly after my Dad died in 1992. My Dad's death was a surprise and I struggled to accept the finality of it. I had all but lost contact with him in the years after meeting Mark in 1988. My husband never met my Dad. He had been in a very bad stage of his mental illness and quite frankly I was taking a break from his sickness and therefore also from him. He displayed classic bi polar symptoms. I'm not sure he was ever officially diagnosed, but now after being Teale's Mom and learning much about the illness, I can see the similarities. His second wife, the one he left my Mom for was much younger than he. She was always nice to me, but I still found her tough to like, after all she knew my Dad was married when the affair began. As fate would have it, soon after their marriage, she was diagnosed with brain cancer. The timeframe of these evens are unclear. As I remember she fought the cancer after surgery and it went into remission for sometime, but soon after came back with a vengeance. Linda went into a vegetative state and was placed into Monroe Community Hospital during one of my Dad's bad stages of bi polar. He could barely care for himself, much less his ailing wife. It was sad to know my Dad was failing and I had no control, but risking the good thing I had found with Mark was not something I was willing to do. I stepped away, thinking there was time to work things out with him. I stepped away knowing I could not solve his alcoholism brought on by his bi polar. Had I had the knowledge I do now, I may have had a mental health arrest done on him. His behavior was erratic, sometimes I would call him to check in or stop by and it would be pleasant, other times it was painful, hurtful and sad. I was well aware that he was just sick. I accepted it was not him, it was not his fault he had this awful disease but I also knew I had no control. I attended Alanon meeting from the time I was young. It is a philosophy of Alanon to accept that you have no control over your loved one who suffers with alcoholism. I had worked hard at letting the alcoholics in my life not destroy me. Mark and I started dating in December of 1988, by Valentine's Day 1989 we were engaged. We set our Wedding date for August 12, 1989 and I made the decision to not invite my Dad. I would have my sister's husband walk me down the aisle. My Dad could easily show up drunk and belligerent. I just didn't want my Wedding to be filled with drama. So in 1992 when he died from a heart attack (brought on by alcoholism) with a drink in his hand, in his favorite chair, by himself, I should not have been surprised. Funny thing is, I was, I was heartbroken inside. Outside I was strong, barely any emotions. The call came from a stranger to me, his neighbor found him dead and somehow knew how to reach me. I had to call my siblings. Being the youngest of the five, Dad had been in my life the least. I have good memories of him. I know he was a good man who loved us all very much, but his illnesses took him over. Telling my siblings and then subsequently dealing with his funeral and the loss I experienced was all pushed down, deep into my soul. It was tough to grieve the loss of a man I had not even invited to my own Wedding. I had guilt and regret and instead of feeling my pain, for the first time in my life I started eating for comfort. Mark and I had bought our first house in January 1991, but after my Dad died, my cooking seemed to turn to comfort. I started gaining weight and was not seeing the connection to the loss of my Dad. Suddenly one day I had an epiphany, I was stuffing my feelings. I told Mark what I thought was going on with me and that I wanted to seek counseling. Mark understood and supported my feelings, so I found a counsellor and started the heavy work of finally grieving the loss of my Dad.

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