Captivity from a Bottle
I believe that good things can come from our most painful experiences. When I was thirteen years old my father walked out of my life without warning. My parents had been divorced since I was two but I still maintained a close bond with both of them. At the time I was living with my mother in Virginia, my father had moved to Mississippi. The last time I heard from him he sent a card notifying me that he had moved back to Maryland and would contact me with a number and an address the following month. I never heard from him again. For two years I waited to hear from him while fearing the worst. During that time I went through many phases; sometimes I would be angry and wonder why he would just leave me, other times I simply worried. Every night I prayed that God would keep him safe.
After two years of waiting I received a phone call in the middle of the night. My worst fears became a reality. His addiction to the bottle had finally taken him for good. No “goodbye,” no “I love you,” I was left with nothing but unanswered questions. At fifteen years of age it was the last thing that I was prepared for. I slipped into a deep hole and feared that I would never come out. For two years I punished myself for his death. Why couldn’t I help him? Why is God punishing me? What did I do to deserve having my daddy, my hero, taken from me? I should have helped him, I should have stopped this from happening. Why was the bottle more important than his own daughter? Why did he walk away? Why didn’t he love me enough? I strayed far from my faith, my friends, my family, and my own self. Who was I?
It became easier for me to blame myself for his death than to blame him for his own actions that caused it. It took a long time to overcome these negative feelings. Still to this day I find myself asking questions that will never have an answer and pointing fingers trying to make things right, but I’ve come a long way. My father did love me, he walked away because he knew the alcohol was bringing him down, he loved me enough to not allow me to witness his downfall. He loved me more than the bottle, but it had an unbreakable hold on him. A hold that sometimes addicts can’t overcome. God didn’t punish me; he did what I asked of him. My father can no longer suffer from the addiction, he’s safe now and nothing can bring him down. He’s with me more now than he could be when he was living.
Even though the pain will never subside I still believe I lost my father for a reason. His death has been the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced, but good things did come from it. My mother and I are extremely close now, whereas before we constantly fought. We now have an unbreakable bond that I’m unbelievably thankful for. I’ve always loved my family, but now I value their importance more than before. Loss always makes you realize what you’re fortunate enough to have. There’s a place in my heart for him that will never be replaced but that doesn’t mean I’m weaker. I’m stronger than before, I’ve grown in so many ways, I know he’s watching over me and I know I can survive.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.