I spent the few years after the death in guilt and shame because I was in direct conflict with my feelings of grief equally balanced by my feelings of relief. The relationship was full of trauma, degradation, and fawning. It was exhausting as I was forced to manifest my sixth sense of survival to endure the daily life of my childhood. There was daily investment in love and hate. It felt like never ending suicide laps for basketball (no coincidence in the name) practice. I never fully got to feel the relief because the shame would rob me of the deep breaths and the grief would pull me back like a ball and chain.
I spent 2 decades trying to save him. I spent 2 decades fighting a lion. That was the fight and flight. I fought for him, refusing to let go of what I believed was my job. “Keep him alive”. But as soon as I got close, I would have to run and protect myself because he was dangerous (that was the flight). My recovery gave permission for the relief because I can love him and know it was never my job to save him. I now know he died long before his body did. The dangerous lion was addiction, and when there was no one left to terrify he turned on himself. Today I feel relief after loss. I love you Daddy.