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The Letters

Growing up in dysfunction

I wrote the first letter to him at age 10. I knew how to make a martini at age 4 (triple olives)! I was great at being cute, funny, and responsible. All the characteristics necessary to fly low under the radar or stay ahead of the game. At a very early age, I couldn’t articulate the name of his pathology but I knew it would kill him. I experienced the deviance, the cunning, the baffling behaviors as if it were a broken record. He was masterful and somehow had 9 lives. 

In the letters I would become the parent of a grown man. There would be compliments of what he was doing right before I dare tip toe into, “Lets get you some help”. I would write it and re-write it until I was satisfied (before computers and printers). The older I got, the more detailed the letters were. I gave examples of the behaviors that hurt, but, I did it in a way that shamed him. Not because I wanted to hurt him back, but because I was willing to try anything to see if it would work. Love him, hate him, piss him off…anything!  I would stay up late at night to bargain with him when he got home from second shift 3p-11p. 11:15 sharp he would walk in the door, cooler in hand that held his lunch and badge on his perfectly pressed shirt mom always had ready for him. 

I was desperate. I decided that I could save him.  I knew it was my responsibility to pull him out of the darkness. I believed in my heart I could. The letters never worked. It only drove him further away. It only made me feel more like a failure. 

Today I have conversations with him (despite his absence), no more letters. My recovery gives me freedom and reminds me that I can love him despite his disease. Today I can name his disease…addiction, and, my disease…codependency. Today I love him and he loves me. I miss you Daddy. 

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