I wrote this about a year before my dad died. I was going to change this so that it is past tense since now he is gone now. I think the message is even more clear as you read below how much help people like my dad really need before they are gone too and writing is the only thing that keeps another broken heart going. I have been told I don’t know how to ask for help. But that doesn’t mean that inside I was literally exhausted inside begging and screaming for something to make everything a little bit easier.
I looked people in the eyes and they ask, “How is your dad?” and it made me a little bit angry because it’s as if I could paint it black and white. Not good was never enough to describe how “not good” it was. And so even though sometimes I’d lie and say, he’s doing okay now, I knew I was always one call away from losing him. It made me angry because no matter what my answer was it wouldn’t change how much that person understood. What I really wanted was someone to shake me and say, “Let’s go see your dad. I want to feel your pain.”
An addict needs to want help before they can get help. My dad was begging for help. Unfortunately, he thought the only help he deserved was to stop being a burden to the world.
Here’s My Dad What Society Thinks vs. Who He is To Me
For the first 9 months of 2016, the number of confirmed cases of unintentional opioid overdose deaths was 1,005, with an estimated additional 392 to 470 deaths.
Since Massachusetts began the pilot program seven years ago, there have been more than 2,500 reported overdose reversals.
My dad counts for 4 of those 2,500 reported
He doesn’t even know that I know that, but if it weren’t for Narcan, I would have already buried him.
In 1992, my dad was in prison for crimes he committed under the influence
In 2007 my dad was on the front page of the local newspaper for assault
In 2010 my dad was sentenced to prison for kidnapping, assault, and burglary
In 2016 my dad was released and overdosed 4 times
What does the future hold for my dad?
My dad, by society label, is a criminal
But this is who my dad is to me
The man who wrote me a letter every week to tell me how much he loved me.
The man who taught me how to ride a bike, to ice-skate, to play softball, and to stick up for myself.
And for the things he couldn’t teach me, he made sure someone did.
Singing lessons, dance lessons, math tutors, and appointments at makeup salons to learn the right way to do makeup.
The man that laminated every award I won in school and kept them in a book.
The man that took me to a Britney Spears, Shakira, Missy Elliott and Beyonce concert.
The man who cemented a basketball court in our backyard because I wanted to learn to play but didn’t want to join the team.
The man who sat by my bedside all night and held my hand saying every single great quality I had when my first boyfriend broke my heart.
The man that would come to my high school and leave little notes and flowers in my car window to let me know he cares.
The man that cried the first time he saw me in a prom dress.
My dad has always been my hero. He is just too sick for us to appreciate that together.
The two sides of my dad made me completely aware of people struggling with identity. No one is completely evil. No one deserves to be treated by what they are labeled as. If it weren’t for my dad, I wouldn’t love as hard, or be as compassionate to those in need, or an understanding to those with a broken past.
Some could say my dad is an immigrant who deserves to be deported. But I say my dad is the light of my life, my reason for being, and the only person to keep me strong when I want to give up.
Addiction is an issue that needs extreme attention, especially for kids that are trying to understand their parents’ disease as I struggled to do for so many years. I was fortunate that my dad can fight so hard to always get back on his feet, but I know there are addicts that can’t. It’s not their fault and as a child of an addict, I need to be the voice to say we can we will and we have learned to love and understand those with addiction.
If you know a parent that is struggling with addiction or a child that is witnessing addiction and needs help, please let them know I am their voice, that I am there for them, and that I am always here to talk.
My dad was my best friend and to me- a teddy bear. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know what the solution is, but I know that along with everyone else we’re begging for a different outcome. It’d be such an honor in my dad’s name that instead of children like me saying my dad will either end up in prison or dead, can really have high hopes on saying that my dad will be okay.
Maybe our way of looking at addiction is wrong.
From my dad’s last phone call you can hear his fear of being put back in prison. It was worse than death. And everyone knew he didn’t need prison to help him change his ways. It’s just not a solution. My dad made his bad decisions when using drugs- not because he was a bad person.