It feels important that I write something today. It might not be, but that’s never stopped me before. It’s the 10th Father’s Day where my dad has been conspicuously absent from my life. I guess after a decade, I thought it would be easier. Anyone who grieves can testify that it is not and may never be.
From 2006-2014, Grief wasted me. More accurately, I wasted myself while Grief watched. Ever the unwanted guest, I never felt prepared when it came to visit. It’s not like I’d make it petit fours or anything, but an RSVP would have been nice. One minute I’m at a party, soaking up attention without scruples faster than my bloodstream can absorb the whiskey I’ve annihilated; the next minute, I’m sobbing on a street corner to a food truck vendor about how sad I am my dad can’t be in my life. For years, I burrowed myself in that safe nook Grief created for me. And then, I couldn’t find my way out. I locked myself in a bomb shelter of self-pity ostensibly to heal myself. When I finally emerged, everyone and everything had healed and changed but me.
Twenty-seven months sober, this Father’s Day has been one of my most difficult. I’ve taken the Saint Francis prayer literally, seeking to comfort rather than to be comforted. So far, it’s only helped a few minutes at a time, in-between phone calls. Nevertheless, I’m glad it’s an option.
I find it shocking that I don’t want to numb my feelings. I just don’t want them to be there. I miss my dad a lot. The woman who helped me get sober lost her father at a younger age than I did. My ride or die best friend lost her dad the same age I lost mine. What strikes me most about these friendships is that we never knew these facts about ourselves until after we got close. I’d be remiss if I didn’t give Grief the credit it deserves for inviting these beautiful women into my life.
I don’t think I would have stayed drunk as long as I did if I hadn’t had Grief’s shadow to hide behind. Or maybe I would have been drunker for longer. Who knows? My addiction shelter could have easily held me twice or three times as long as it did. My “happy” drinking may have resulted in a bigger onslaught of consequences than my “sad” drinking did. Any good alcoholic has an armament of resentments and reasons to keep breaking their own hearts. Mine were just effective enough to hold me until the pain I created outpaced my Grief.
What’s cool about turning 30 this month is that many of my friends are starting to make their own families. My newsfeeds are filled with pictures of my contemporaries in newfound fatherhood, including my family members. That makes me much happier than it did when I was still stewing in my own self-absorption. I am grateful that there is a chance to see fatherhood from this new angle. I’m even more grateful that I am not home alone drinking, pretending that it doesn’t still hurt.
My father died of natural causes. Today I am reminded that there are people mourning for loved ones whose death came prematurely, with no justification. Though this post focuses on Grief concerning a man central to my life, it is dedicated to the LGBTQIA community of Central Florida. Your loss will not go unnoticed. When Grief comes–and it will–just know that it won’t stay.