Growing up I lived in a home with three siblings, a mother and an alcoholic father. I always chose to go four wheeling, snowmobiling and fishing with my dad over going to the mall with my mom, that is, until about middle school. I always knew that my dad had an addiction but the extent of it was not revealed until nearly six years ago when he had an accident at work which left him disabled. Working was all that my father knew. Thus, not being able to do construction, let alone accomplish simple tasks such as yard work, was devastating to him. This only heightened his addiction. I grew tired of listening to my parents argue every night before I went to sleep and I would always take my mother’s side in their arguments, fighting with him relentlessly.
Although he never hurt me physically, I was emotionally damaged. I did not agree with his addiction and rather than helping him with it, I chose to degrade him. It reached the point where I would not even say “hi” to him because I could not fathom the fact that he was an alcoholic. I did not understand that he had a disease, and that he needed help. He drank all of the time, and he yelled just as often. Why should I care if he was a part of my life?
Last January my dad had to have his final surgery as a result of his accident which required him bed rest for a couple of weeks. At this point, my siblings had moved out and I was a senior in high school. My mother was working nights, leaving me at home to care for my dad. After school and volleyball I had to wait on him because he could not walk easily. In between making dinner and putting wood in the woodstove, we began to talk more and he started drinking less due to his doctors’ orders. He also had to quit smoking, and I was ecstatic to see improvement in his health. I can still remember the tears that I had in my eyes the night I watched him walk into the gym for my senior volleyball game, though he had to leave early because he was in too much pain from his back.
I realized that the ‘awful father’ I thought I had, was really just a man with an addiction whom I chose to push away rather than help. Although my father has not completely given up his drinking habit, he has definitely improved it, and our father-daughter relationship has grown since those few weeks I spent taking care of him last winter. I looked beyond his addiction and saw the father that I looked up to and would always spend time with when I was a little girl. I now have a new friendship with my father that I never thought would get repaired. I believe that good things can come from bad situations.
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