Speed Kills: How meth destroyed my family

The painful journey of a 25-year-old woman through the divorce of her parents, and the death of her childhood, as a result of her father's addiction to methamphetamine. Note: Because of the blog format, you will need to read from the bottom post up.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Letting Go

I spent a long time in the months after the funeral working through my own grieving process. But it was weird because I had technically grieved his "death" a few years earlier when my dad went from being the man who raised me to the meth addict who destroyed himself and his family. I fed off of a pool of strength that I'm not even quite sure where it came from.

Eventually I came to a place where I accepted that my dad did a lot of very awful things, and had many demons inside of him, but that no person is 100% good or evil. I chose to remember the good times I shared with him, and the positive things he brought to my life. But I also chose not to forget the damage he brought to me either, and instead resolved to try to let those things make me stronger, not bog me down.

I freely admit today that I love my dad, but am also very angry and hurt at many of the things he did, and how he chose to end his life. I'm allowed to feel both, and neither are mutually exclusive. My acceptance of that brought me a lot of peace. I don't regret the fact that we never repaired our relationship. I don't regret that when I had seen him at a family gathering only a week and a half before his death that we didn't utter a word to each other. I don't regret that I didn't tell anyone about what he had done to me. I don't regret any of the choices I made. It wouldn't do any good anyway, and I did the things I did because they were the right decisions at the time. It's pointless to second guess those decisions now.

A few weeks ago the family went up to the Klamath River, my dad's most favorite place. My brother and I, along with my dad's brother and sister, rode up the river and released my father at his favorite fishing spot. I know this is what he would have wanted (actually, he used to say he wanted to be buried in his boat, but that wasn't practical, so we settled for spreading his ashes in the river instead). I was glad to finally let him go and to close the book on this chapter of my life. I hope that my dad was finally able to find peace in whatever exists after this life.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Tragic End

It has been two-and-a-half years since my last post, and the story has recently taken its most tragic twist.

First I need to add a little to my story below. There was a part that I deliberately left out of one of my entries, because of my fear of confronting the deeper issue behind it. I was afraid that if someone I knew somehow found this blog that my "secret" would be out, and I did not believe that I was equipped to deal with it at the time.

Back in June of 2005, when my father met with my then boyfriend (now husband) on his 25th birthday about his suspicions and "evidence", there was something else my dad brought up. Out of seemingly nowhere he started talking about me being molested as a child. To properly set this up, I WAS molested by my father when I was about 11 or 12 years old (I've spent so many years trying to bury the memory, I can't recall specifically when it happened, only how it happened, where it happened, that my mother was working on the nights it happened, the shirt I was wearing on one of those nights, and what my dad said to me the last night it happened).

My dad put forth three conflicting "theories" about this, presumably to explain it away (I don't know the precise order he presented these in). He tried telling Jon that I was taken to see a psychologist at some point, who determined that I had never been molested. This is not true, as I have absolutely no recollection of having ever seen a therapist as a child (except for once as a teen, with my whole family, but this was my brother's psychologist who had asked the whole family to come in). My mother has even recently confirmed that I was never taken to see a psychologist.

Then he tried to claim that he didn't molest me, but that perhaps my uncle (mom's brother) did while he was living with us. The problem is that at the time the molestation happened, my uncle was not on speaking terms with my mother due to a falling out my mom had had with her siblings a year or two before the molestation (over my great grandfather's estate). So it would have been impossible for him to have been the molester. And while my uncle had lived with us for a short period of time, it was when I was much, much younger.

He also tried to claim that I wet the bed a lot as a child, and he often had to "clean [me] up", suggesting that perhaps I had that confused with being molested. Except that I didn't really have a problem with wetting the bed (confirmed by my mother), and any time I had done something like that, I guarantee you it was my mom that was tending to me and cleaning me and any mess up... not my dad. Besides, I know for a fact that I wasn't wetting the bed at the age of 11 or 12. And even if I had, even my mom wouldn't be the one cleaning me up at that age!

Why he brought this up to Jon, I'm not entirely sure. However, I believe the meth was causing his memory and guilt over molesting me to eat at him, and his delusional brain was trying to somehow "deal" with this. My dad had no way of knowing whether Jon even knew about it, so the fact he brought this up to him shocked me even more. However, a month earlier, on the night I learned my dad had served my mom with divorce papers, I did tell Jon about it. If you'll recall, in my very first post I said "In the course of the conversation, she also said something to me that, as I mentioned before, convinced me that my dad isn't all there, and that these 'notes' my mom supposedly wrote were probably (consciously or not) written by him."

When I was on the phone with my mom that night, she mentioned that during their argument the night before, my dad accused my mother of accusing him of molesting me (he claimed my mom had written about it in some of the "writings" he had supposedly found that she was doing). My mother cried to me on the phone and said "Why would I ever accuse him of doing something like that when it never happened?" (As background, my mom and her sister were repeatedly molested by their step-father as children, and their mother never believed them, so my mom is particularly sensitive to this. So had she known or even suspected about what happened to me, my mother never would have allowed it to go unpunished). When my mom said this, I was speechless. What could I say? I couldn't tell her. It would kill her to learn that, in fact, I had been molested by him as a child. But, at that point, it was obvious to me that something was seriously wrong with my dad, and that it was quite likely that a lot (if not all) of his accusations were as wrong as this particular one. However, I had to tell someone, so after I hung up with my mom, I told Jon the whole story about what my dad had done to me. He was the only person in the world, besides myself and my dad, that knew at that point.

So when my dad brought up these three conflicting theories, out of the blue, to Jon on his birthday, I knew my dad had seriously lost it. This detail of that conversation played a large role in my decision to push away from my dad from that point on. I was not ready to deal with what had happened to me as a child, and I was not ready to be "outted" to my family and the world about it. (I had kept it locked inside all of those years because on the last night my dad said to me "Please don't tell anyone about this. If you do, I could be in big trouble. I promise it will never happen again". I was afraid that if I told, my dad would go to jail, and my mom would struggle to raise me and my brothers. And I also feared that people might not believe me -- particularly his family, who at the time was the only extended family I had, so losing them would have devastated me.) And with my family presently falling apart all around me, and the denial from my dad's family about his meth addiction and the fact that they seemed to be buying some of his stories, I didn't believe I could safely bring this out into the open without causing my whole world to come completely crashing down around me.

But let's begin to fast forward to the present. My last post was in June of 2006. In July of 2006 my niece, Kayla, was born. Strangely, more than a year before her birth, my dad had told Jon that he was going to die in an execution designed to look like a drug deal gone bad in Oakland on the same date Kayla was born. I was there, in the room, for the delivery of my niece and spent the whole day with my brother and his girlfriend, helping them out. So, when my dad came by to visit and meet his granddaughter later that evening, I was still there. And all I could think about was "I wonder if he even realizes that today is the day he was convinced he was going to die" and "How odd of a coincidence is it that his first grandchild was born on that very day... more than a year after he 'predicted' his death".

The divorce proceedings between my parents continued to be a huge mess. And my father continued to do a lot of strange things. He claimed he was no longer using meth. But it was hard to know for sure. In the latter part of 2006 my dad was caught, multiple times, parked down the street from my mom's house in the middle of the night. A couple of the neighbors had seen him either sitting in his car, or out of his car walking towards the house at like 2 or 3 in the morning, on separate occasions. But then, my youngest brother was coming home at 2 am, and came upon my dad in his truck, parked around the corner from my mom's house, and tried to confront him. But my dad sped off. A couple of days later, my brother received a letter from my dad saying that it was "obvious" that my brother was in cahoots with my mom (leading me to believe that he was still delusional, either because he was still on the meth or the meth had left him permanently schizophrenic despite having stopped, as he claimed). Additionally, in this letter, my dad told my brother that he was "disowning" him, and no longer considered him his son.

Eventually the divorce was finalized in 2006. My dad was living up in Napa at this time with a woman he had began dating in early 2006. This woman had two young kids, a boy who was about 7, and a girl who was about 5. My dad quit his job locally and began working at the cabinet shop his girlfriend worked at, and eventually made arrangements with the owner to purchase the store. Things quieted down, more or less. Although once my dad left his former company, he stopped making alimony payments to my mom.

Family holidays and gatherings continued to be somewhat awkward for me. Although, by this time my dad had stopped trying to win me back, and we generally just avoided each other at such functions. On occasion we would say hello to each other, but that was pretty much it. The rest of the time we'd be socializing with different people, often in different rooms. It was far from ideal, but the only other choice I had was to not see my family anymore. And since that was far worse than the awkwardness, I learned to deal with it a few times a year.

In August of 2008, Jon and I got married. I did not invite my dad. Two weeks before the wedding I called my aunt to confirm whether she was coming to the wedding, since we had not received her RSVP. Sadly, she used that phone call as an opportunity to bring up my dad and the molestation. Apparently my dad had made some comments about it to the rest of the family as part of his meth-induced ramblings in 2005. The family chose to mostly dismiss it, assuming it was more "crazy talk". But it stuck with my aunt, who had been sexually abused herself as a child. My aunt put me on the spot asking about it, and then tried to start convincing me that I shouldn't cut my dad out of my life, and that when I had kids my dad should get to see them. I was pretty much speechless throughout the conversation since I had been completely blindsided. Here I was two weeks from my wedding, with all the last minute details on my mind, and suddenly I'm forced to think about some very painful and secret things. What was I supposed to say? I feebly attempted to defend myself, but it was no use. I was a mess for the rest of the evening, even after I hung up with my aunt. But, I pushed it out of my mind as quickly as I could and went about enjoying my wedding.

Then, a little more than two months later, I received a phone call at about 7 am on a Friday morning, just as I was heading out the door for work. It was my grandfather. The police had come to their door just a few hours earlier and informed them that my father had committed suicide the night before in his home in Napa. The night he died was October 23, 2008 -- which would have been my parents 26th wedding anniversary.

At first I thought that he had planned this, and deliberately picked that date. I was half expecting some sort of suicide note to arrive in the mailbox of my mom, or me, or one of my brothers. I knew that my dad had been diagnosed as bipolar in late 2005, and I knew that suicide is tragically quite common amongst those with this disease, and figured he became yet another victim of this.

After a few hours of deep crying and pain unlike anything I had ever experienced, my family converged upon my grandparent's house to be together and talk. I don't think anyone really knew what to do, and we were all in a huge state of shock. We had also just recently learned that the police had been at the house when he died. But at the time, it was not clear why. Things were getting stranger, and I could only imagine what had been going on.

As I was preparing to leave my grandfather's a few hours later, two of my aunt's approached me and asked me to meet them at one of their homes in a couple of hours. They said they needed to talk to me privately. The whole ride over I was anxiously trying to figure out what this could be about. But I only had one thought, and I didn't dare speak it, and was trying hard not to even think it.

When we got to my aunt's house, my dad's sister began telling me that they knew why the police were there when my dad died. Apparently they knew all morning long, but wanted to talk to me first. At this point I knew exactly where this was going.

My aunt began telling me how just a few days prior my dad's girlfriend had noticed her daughter pulling out her eyelashes. She took her to the doctor who determined that there was nothing physically wrong with her, but referred her to see a child psychologist. While seeing the psychologist, the little girl admitted that my dad had molested her. (Before my aunt could even get the word out I stopped her and began sobbing uncontrollably -- I couldn't bear to hear it, and a part of me started feeling immediately guilty and remorseful for having held my secret.) My dad's girlfriend attempted to get my dad to confess, but he would only deny it and say "I would never hurt her!"

Later that evening the police arrived at my dad's home to "talk to him". They knocked on the door and announced themselves, but my dad refused to come to the door. At some point they heard a gunshot go off. Not knowing whether my dad was in the house alone or not, they called in the SWAT team and a hostage negotiator (or perhaps they were already there -- that part wasn't clear). For nearly two hours they attempted to make contact with my dad and evacuated the surrounding neighbors. Eventually one of the officers peered in through a bathroom window and saw a body slumped over against a wall. At this point, they entered the house and found my dad dead, of a gunshot to the heart, in the back bathroom. There was no one else inside the house.

At this point I admitted to my aunts that my dad had molested me too, and told them everything. They both said that they had suspected, based on the things my dad had said a few years earlier, and thought it made a lot of sense that I had estranged myself from him, given that. But they also tried really hard to make me believe that what happened to this other little girl, and what happened with my dad was not my fault. At first it was hard to accept. I couldn't help but think that had I told perhaps all of this would have been avoided. But at the same time, I didn't tell because I was afraid nobody in the family would believe me, and that my mom would be all alone to raise me and my brothers (this all happened right after we stopped talking to my mom's family, making it even scarier for me), and that it was just "easier" for me to live with it rather than let it destroy everyone else. And, over time, this just became normal to me. And it would have been even harder to have come out with it many years later. I just hated (and still hate) that it had to take this for the truth to finally be out.

Two days later, I told my mom. It was awful. I was so scared to tell her and how she'd react. But I knew I had to, because she was likely to find out somehow -- probably when someone else slipped up and said something. And I didn't feel right lying to her about why my dad died (as it was she was convinced he did it on their anniversary to get to her). I went to her sister first for support, and confessed everything. I knew that since both she and my mother had been molested by their step father when they were children that she'd understand. After letting it all out to her, we went to my mom's and I told her everything. I can still hear the wail that erupted from my mom in the back of my mind whenever I think about it. I hated that I had just shattered her world into a million tiny pieces.

Not long after that I had to tell my brothers. My youngest brother was the "easiest", considering his estranged and damaged relationship with my dad. But telling my middle brother (who had been constantly asking if we had heard anything more as to why the police were at my dad's house) was incredibly hard too. I was afraid that he wouldn't believe me. He and my dad had remained close, and my brother looked up to our dad. How would he handle the news that our dad was a bigger monster than he realized? Fortunately he accepted it, and didn't hold it against me or accuse me of lying (my two biggest fears). I know it was hard for him though, and I wish I could take it all back. I wish I could take it all back from everyone. I wish it were still so that I was the only one who had to live with this knowledge. While it was a relief to get it out in the open, and see that my family didn't abandon me and didn't call me a liar, I still hate that any of them ever had to know.

In the days and weeks and months that followed, the burden of settling and sorting through my dad's estate got dropped on my shoulders. This meant having to sort through a lot of my dad's stuff. He had a storage shed full of a lot of things from when my parents were divorcing. There were some boxes of things from the house that my dad got, many of which had never been opened. And then there were the boxes of papers and files and "evidence" from that horrible time just a few years earlier.

I know I shouldn't have, but I found myself looking at everything -- reading every "rubbing", looking through every print out, trying to find answers in the insanity. In there I found evidence that my dad had placed a GPS tracking device on my mom's vehicle for a few months in late 2005, and had been recording everywhere she went. I found a cassette tape that had recorded phone calls between my mom and various people. I found more rubbings with awful, horrible, perverted and sickening things written. Things about me, and what happened to me, even. I found many of my mom's old flower business documents, and a calendar from 1982 (the year my parents married), and the family phone book, and the divorce papers from my biological parent's divorce, among many other things. Many of these things had rubbings done inside. I went to work cleaning up the things I thought needed to be returned to my mom (there was no way she needed to see the things my dad wrote in there), erasing things, tearing out pages. Eventually I had a large stack of my dad's insanity piled up before me. Then I went to work shredding it all. My dad was dead. The nightmare was over and I wanted it all to just be gone. Nobody else needed to relive it. It was bad enough that I had.

The funeral was difficult. The pastor said a lot of nice things, and people talked about all the good things they remembered about my dad. Many of the people there didn't know why he died, or who he really was. I cringed and ached every time the pastor said something that didn't jive with my experience and knowledge of my dad. But I knew that this funeral wasn't for me. I was just there because it was the right thing to do. At the reception afterward, many people approached me and gave their condolences, and said they couldn't imagine how deeply I must be hurting. No... they couldn't. But I just smiled as they shared stories about my dad, and hoped that at least they were finding their peace.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Passage of Time

Nearly a year has passed since I last added to this blog. So much has happened since then, though things are still far from over. I'll warn you that this entry will be extremely long. But I have nearly 11 months worth of stuff to write about.

In my last post, I mentioned my attempt to get through to my youngest brother, about our dad. At the time, it seemed like it got nowhere. But, a few weeks after that conversation, I called to talk to my mom (who ended up not being home) and got my brother instead. Seemingly out of nowhere, he thanked me for talking with him. He said that he had talked to his friend (who had lost his mom to meth, and had a sister and a brother who both had meth addictions), who told him most of the same things I did. He said that appreciated that I had tried to talk to him, and that the stuff I said now made sense. He started trying to work on his relationship with my mom (which is still very fragmented, but is better than it was). And he stopped playing my dad's games as much (though, he has chosen to not cut off contact). Armed with this new knowledge, my brother was able to start seeing things more clearly. Later on, he even watched my dad actually creating these "rubbings" right in front of him. My dad really thought he was seeing impressions, but when he showed my brother, there was nothing there.

In mid-July, my grandmother threw a barbeque for the whole family. My cousin, Jason, was going to be home from teaching in Japan for a week or so, and thought he'd like to see the whole family. His sister, whom I hadn't seen in years (but used to be close to), was also coming down. I agonized over whether to go at first. I was reluctant to see my dad, but I really wanted to see my cousins. Ultimately, I decided to go. I arrived a little late (I had actually been out of town that weekend, and had just gotten home an hour before). At one point, I was sitting at a table with my cousins, catching up, when I heard my dad talking to my aunt at the food table only a few feet away. He was ranting about my mom, and some stuff she was supposedly doing. I immediately tuned out of the conversation in front of me, and locked onto what my dad was saying -- even though I didn't want to. The stuff he was saying was garbage, and I was so angry and hurt to be hearing him saying it.

Shortly thereafter, my grandmother walked into the house, alone. I followed her inside, and confronted her in the kitchen. I told her that while I really wanted to be there with the family, it was really hard for me to be around my dad. I told her that I didn't want her to think that if I didn't come to something that it was because I didn't want to be around the family, and that I was afraid of people thinking that.

I also told her I had wanted to talk to her about my dad. Instinctively, I started to cry, and my grandmother ushered me back into her bathroom, where we had some privacy. I told her about my dad's drug problem. I told her how my dad had been accusing my mom of all kinds of crazy things, and how they weren't true. I told her how I was scared for my dad, because he seemed to be delusional and putting himself in a lot of danger. I told my grandmother that I had a lot of information that I wanted to share with her. Then she asked me if it was true that my mom was a prostitute. I flat out told her "no." She then told me that when my dad first came to live with them, he had helped them install a new screen door. In the process, he had cut himself, and my grandmother got his blood on her. She then looked at me with fear in her eyes, and asked me if she needed to be checked for AIDS, in case my mom gave it to my dad. After getting over my initial horror and disappointment that my grandmother STILL thought my mom was a prostitute, I explained to her that even if my dad did have it, he didn't get it from my mom, because she wasn't a prostitute, and that unless she had an open wound, just getting my dad's blood on her wouldn't transmit the disease. It was obvious, though, that my dad had been saying a lot of stuff to my grandparents, and had really been trying to convince them of all of his conspiracy theories about my mom. My grandmother told me that she was really worried about my dad, and that her and my grandfather were getting kind of fed up at some of his behavior. She told me she wanted to help him, and I suggested that we get the family together, and have an intervention to help my dad. She agreed that she wanted to do that. However, it never ended up happening.

In September, my middle brother turned 21. My dad decided to have a dinner for him at this local Italian place. He sent me an email, inviting me and Jon. I couldn't possibly go. I was still so angry at my dad after what had happened on Jon's birthday. And, the barbeque in July was just way too hard. I couldn't even bring myself to respond to him. My youngest brother went, but wasn't looking forward to it. He was prepared to get up and leave if my dad started any crap. My brother said my dad mostly behaved, though.

My dad was really pissed that I didn't show up. The next day, I checked my email, and found this horrible message from him. I had just gotten to work, when I read it. I immediately ran into the bathroom to try to compose myself, because the tears were already flowing. He wrote:

"I may be a drug crazed, wife beating mother fucker, but I'm not stupid. I get the message. I just want to say a couple of things before we part ways. First and foremost, My door WILL ALWAYS be open to you. And I will always be there for you if you need me to be. ALWAYS. Second a little unsolicited advice because I do love you and want to see you happy. The event that made me concider a divorce may suprise you. The night of my execution (Sunday May 2) it was explained to me (with your eager agreement) that to ask for 20 minutes of your mothers time was to demanding of me (I believe you said she is so busy). Well honey, if you believe that the person you choose to marry and love is not as important as the things you want to do and the other people you wish to have around you, you're going to end up like Mom and me. 40+ and divorced. Don't let this happen. Your lover should be THE MOST IMPORTANT person in your life. You grab them, hold them close and never let them wonder if it isn't so. If you ever want to find me ask one of your brothers. They'll know where I am. And please don't give up on your g-parents and aunts and uncles. Keep as much family as you can. They're ok with everything. They just don't want to lose you either. Good- bye sweetheart. FOR NOW. Love you, Dad."

First of all, nobody was accusing him of being a wife-beater! Drug addict, yes. And, he had been emotionally and mentally abusing my mom. But, I had never seen him physically abuse her, and she had never accused him of such. Secondly, I never "agreed" that it was too much of my dad to ask for "20 minutes" of my mom's time. However, my dad had been badgering and harassing my mom about his conspiracy theories constantly, and it didn't seem she ever really had a fair chance to defend herself. My mom seemed to genuinely want to fix things, while my dad seemed to just want to get my mom to admit to all of his accusations. I resented him putting words in my mouth. Thirdly, it's funny how he tried to give me marital advice that HE really should have tried following himself. But, what pissed me off most was how blatantly manipulative his email was. And, it only got worse.

As if his first email weren't painful enough, he decided a second, even MORE manipulative email was in order. Only three and a half hours after sending the first one, he sent a second email, with the subject line of "Chip." It read:

"I'm sorry to bother you again but I forgot to say something to you the last time I saw you. THANK YOU for being there when Chip got executed. I had to do the same thing with my childhood dog when I was in High School and it's not easy. But I'm glad Chippie had you there at the end. I won't go into my feelings over how it was handled except to say the reason I wasn't there was because I could'nt think of anything as cruel to do to him as not being allowed to see him for 5 weeks, have him see me, be happy, then kill him. I'm crying now, as I cried that day. I just wanted you to know. Thanks. Love Dad."

"Executed?" That really did me in. Chip was NOT executed. I was there. I was involved in the decision to put him down. I saw how hard it was for my mom. And I saw how incredibly sick Chip was getting. It was very obvious that there was little other choice, except just waiting for him to die. Before we put him to sleep, the veterinarian looked him over, and confirmed that he didn't have much time anyway, unless we used some very expensive treatments to prolong his life by maybe a few more months. Putting him to sleep was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. But, it was the right thing. And it disgusted me that my dad had the gall to try to manipulate and hurt me with it.

In late September, I learned my mom was dating again. She told me that she had begun seeing a guy named Tony, who was a friend of two of her friends. According to my mom, he had asked her if he could date her, and my mom accepted. He was only 35. However, he had been through a divorce not too long before, and my mom seemed to be happy about him, and told me that he had been very supportive. She said that both agreed they weren't looking for anything serious. It was weird at first, especially since I didn't expect it so soon. But, if it helped my mom, I wasn't going to get in the way.

As the holidays approached, I became very apprehensive about how those would work out. I spent Thanksgiving with Jon's family. My mom had a belated turkey dinner a few nights later. It was my mom and Tony, me and Jon, my two brothers, and the girlfriend of one of my brothers. That night, I learned that my middle brother and his girlfriend were expecting a child. They are due on June 25. My brother later proposed to his girlfriend on Christmas Day.

A few weeks before Christmas (and the night before I was to fly out to New York for my company's Christmas party), I came home to a message on my machine from my dad. He sounded like he was crying, and asked me to call him back. He said "Please don't blow me off this time." I didn't know what to do. I was worried about what he wanted to talk to me about. I was afraid of not calling, and having it be something really serious. But I was also afraid of calling and being subjected to his games. So, I called my brother. My brother told me that my dad had been to the doctor, and was diagnosed as bi-polar, and that he had been acting kind of suicidal.

I decided to call my dad. We only talked for about 20 minutes, but he told me that his doctor diagnosed him as bi-polar and possibly schizophrenic. He apologized for all the pain he had put me through, and said that he'd do anything to win me back. He said his doctor had started him on medications, and that for the first time in a really long time, he felt "normal." He claimed that he had quit the meth the previous February, and only slipped up once since then. I wasn't really sure whether to believe that, and I'm still not. He said that he told his doctor about it, and his doctor told him he was at a high risk for a relapse. As a result, my dad was to start an outpatient chemical dependency program. As far as I know, he started in January, but I don't know how it went. My dad said he wanted me back in his life, and he wanted to earn my trust back. But, it also sounded like he still believes some (though maybe not all) of the stuff he had been accusing my mom of. I told him how angry and hurt I was. I told him how he had destroyed my trust after what happened on Jon's birthday. I told him that I really didn't know if I could have a relationship with him right now, and even if I could, what it would take. He told me to think about it, and get back to him with a list of the things he needed to do. I never sent that list, because I decided that I couldn't handle playing those games right now. I couldn't get myself so wrapped up after all the work I had done to unwrap myself from the mess.

For Christmas, I decided that I would spend Christmas Eve with my dad's family. I really wanted to be able to see my family on that side, even though I knew seeing my dad would be hard. I worked it out with my brothers so that we'd spend Christmas Eve with dad's family, and then Christmas morning with mom. Christmas Eve was incredibly hard. Traditionally, my family swaps names for Christmas. The only people who get gifts from everyone are the kids. When it came time to start handing out the presents, I quickly found a huge pile of presents at my feet -- more than anyone else. About 3 were from my aunt, who had pulled my name. The rest were all from my dad. I felt so incredibly embarrassed by the display. Not wanting to cause a scene, I quietly opened them all, and secretly fumed. I didn't want anything from my dad. I hadn't gotten anything for him, either. I felt like he was trying to buy my love back, and that just pissed me off even more. I cried the whole way home from my grandparent's that night.

The New Year passed, and the divorce marched on, as did everything else. I learned that my dad now had a new girlfriend, who had two little kids. Supposedly he called up my youngest brother and asked him "how would you feel if I raised two other little kids as my own." Both my brother and I were disgusted by it. My dad barely raised us, when it comes down to it, and now he wants to go screw up some other woman's kids?! My grandmother tried to arrange a lunch so that we could meet my dad's new "lady friend" and her kids. Fortunately, I had to work that day, so I couldn't make it. I really wasn't interested. I still have not met her. I worry for her though. Either she's just as bad as my dad, or she has no idea what she's getting herself into.

In February, my mom learned that my middle brother had taken some items out of the house for my dad, without consulting my mom, or going through the appropriate means (the court appointed my mom's dad to be in charge of dividing up the assets -- which both of my parents agreed to). He and my mom got into a huge fight. Andy felt like my mom didn't trust him. He also thought she was being a hypocrite because she had let someone borrow some of my dad's tools, and let someone else borrow the truck without getting all the paperwork signed. Yet, when my brother wanted to borrow the truck, she made him sign these papers along with her and my dad, allowing him to use it. So, my brother decided that he was being treated unfairly. On top of that, my dad was still manipulating my middle brother. Supposedly, my dad even told him that "You're the only one I have left. Your brother and sister have abandoned me." (More manipulation.) When I talked to my brother about the situation, I got him to agree to return the items, and do things through the proper channels next time. He told me that my dad told him that he was afraid my mother was going to sell or destroy those items, and that's why my brother needed to take them.

As a result, the relationship between my middle brother and my mom became severely strained. My mom ended up demanding the house keys back from my brother, and changed the locks. She made it clear that she couldn't really trust him, and didn't want them coming over unless she was there. My mother believes that my brother and his fiance were coming over there all the time to basically spy on her, and were reporting things back to my dad. I actually wouldn't doubt that something like that was happening -- even if it was just my dad fishing for information from my brother. After all, I had found out that early on, my dad had been using my youngest brother to get him to take things out of the house for my dad, and to spy on my mom. My dad had my brother taking papers and things for my dad's "evidence," and may have even entered the house while my mom wasn't home, with the help of my brother. (But, since my talk from last July got through to him, I don't think my youngest brother has done any of those things again.)

In April, my brother and his fiance had their baby shower. At first my brother wasn't going to invite my mom, but I talked to him, and convinced him to. I also convinced him to try to talk to my mom, and work out the problems they had. They had a talk, but I think my mother was too angry and scared, and ended up just lecturing him and going off on him, instead of handling things the best way. This didn't make things any better. My brother does not react well at all to being attacked and yelled at. It generally just gets him very angry, and makes him lash right back at the other person. You can get so much farther with him with calmness, and reason.

He did end up sending my mom an invitation to the shower. However, she ultimately decided not to go, because my dad was going to be there, and she was afraid of a confrontation, or of my dad saying or doing things. She was also afraid that my dad might bring his new girlfriend (which, it turned out he didn't, even though he put her and her kid's names on the presents). She decided she didn't want to create or cause any drama, and wrote a letter to my brother's fiance's parents explaining the situation. I talked to my mom about it, because I was worried about this becoming a habit. I didn't want her to sacrifice a lot of very important moments, just because my dad might be there. She promised me that she wasn't going to let that happen, but that for this particular event, she wasn't so sure she could even control herself. (She was trying to negotiate a deal to buy out my dad's half of the house, so she could keep it, and my dad was playing games with her).

As a result, the only person on my mom's side of the family that was able to make it to the shower was my aunt (mom's sister). I got to the shower at 1 pm, when it started, and immediately ran into my grandparents (dad's parents). I was chatting with them for a few minutes, inside the hall. My grandmother suggested I sit at the table with them, but I told them that I was waiting for my aunt, and that I had promised her I would save her a seat (understandably, my aunt didn't want to sit alone, and asked me to hold a seat for her, since she'd be arriving late, after work). My grandmother responded by asking "Who?" I repeated "My aunt." Then, my grandmother very visibly rolled her eyes and said "Oh" in a very disgusted tone. I fumed, but decided that this was neither the time nor the place to get outwardly indignant about it. Instead, I walked away. Besides, I knew my dad would be sitting with them, and I didn't want to sit near my dad anyway. Later on, my aunt arrived. My grandparents and dad said nothing to her. My dad's sister said hello, and her husband said hello too, and even talked with my aunt a bit. When it came time for everyone to leave, my aunt and uncle (dad's sister and husband) came and said goodbye to me and my aunt before leaving. After I looked up as I was chatting with my aunt (mom's sister), and noticed my grandparents at the other end of the hall with one foot out the door. They left without ever saying goodbye to me. Presumably all because my aunt was sitting next to me and they didn't want to have to speak to her. What makes it even more ridiculous is that my aunt has NEVER done anything to my grandparents, and the only reason they don't like her is because my dad has said a lot of horrible things about my mom and her family -- most of which has been untrue.

The baby is due in a few weeks. My brother is apparently really angry with my mom for not showing up to the baby shower, even though he read the letter my mom sent to his fiance's parents. He told my brother that he was mad because my mom told them that she would always be there for them no matter what, and then she didn't show up to the shower. He doesn't seem to understand that her not going has NOTHING to do with her not being there for him, and that actually she probably saved them a lot of embarrassment with her sacrifice. The relationship between my mom and brother is still incredibly strained. Granted, my mom hasn't done all she can to correct that situation. I've tried talking to her, and tried to help her see where she is making her mistakes. However, she doesn't seem to want to hear it. She's too hurt, and angry, and scared right now to do anything other than what she's doing. My brother is just as stubborn, and can't seem to see things from my mother's perspective. Plus, he's probably being manipulated by my dad, making it harder to be truly rational about things.

The divorce was finalized nearly a month ago, but things are far from over. The house will need to be sold, and the property divided up. Who knows how long all of that will take. While I'm certainly sad that my parents marriage is now completely dead, I'm also a bit relieved. A year ago, I was severely struggling accepting the idea of a divorce. Now, I realize that it's really the best thing for both of my parents. The relationship had become too toxic, and I think it was beyond repair. Certainly my mom is better off now. As for my dad, I think he still has a very, very long road ahead of him.

Father's Day is coming up, and I know that's going to be another painful day. I have no intention of sending a card this year, unlike last year. I'm still too angry at my dad. And right now, I just can't negotiate a relationship with him. It hurts like hell, and I seriously wish it wasn't that way. But, there is too much that is unresolved, and it doesn't seem like those things can be resolved at this point in time. Maybe someday, but not now. I've had two dreams, in the past two weeks (after none for quite a long time) where I confronted my dad. It felt good to just let it all out, and tell him how I felt and how angry I was. But in real life, I don't think it would be as productive. Maybe someday I'll lay it all out for him.

I seriously worry about the family this little child is about to come into. I haven't met her yet, as she hasn't even been born. But, I fear for her so much. I've already seen so much betrayal and heart break and abandonment and separation in my own life with my own family growing up. I don't ever want anyone else to have to go through that -- especially not a little child who has absolutely no say. Of course, these aren't my decisions to make. The only thing I can do is vow that I will not abandon or betray her. The decisions other people make are up to them.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Adding Insult to Injury

Most of the remainder of my Father's Day was spent a miserable, crying wreck. A few hours after turning my grandmother down, my dad called. I let it go to the answering machine, and then sat nervously on the edge of my couch to see what he had to say. He sounded choked up, like he was fighting back tears as he said "Hi Danielle, it's Dad. Just called to thank you for the card. Appreciate it -- a lot. Sorry we couldn't connect today and do something. Maybe we can do something this week or next weekend or something...." That brought on a whole new flood of tears and pain. I couldn't get together with him later! I wanted him to understand what I'm going through. I needed him to see that I couldn't play this game anymore. But I couldn't. It was all just too heartbreaking, so I settled for crying for a few more hours before falling asleep for a while, hoping that when I woke it would all be gone. Of course, it wasn't.

Later that evening I talked to my mom, who told me that our dog, Chip, was getting sicker, and she was thinking she might have to put him down soon. So, the following night I went to my parent's house and spent hours petting him. You could tell he was in a lot of pain, and getting really weak. My mom wasn't sure when she'd do it, and you could tell that she was trying to put it off for as long as she could. She said she was going to wait and see how he was doing the next day. Thursday night she called to tell me he was really bad, and that she had called the vet to set up an appointment for the next day. After talking to my mom, I rushed over to see him, and to be there for my mom (who sounded very upset). Chip was much worse, compared to Monday. He was even weaker, and his breathing was really hard, and he just had this miserable look in his eyes.

So, the next day, I left work early to go with my mom and my aunt to have him put to sleep. That was so incredibly hard. My mom held him while the vet gave him the shot, and I held his little paw. It was amazing how fast it worked. Almost as soon as the needle was empty the dog began to relax, and was gone only a second or two later. Afterward, the vet wrapped him in an old towel, and I sat in a chair and held his lifeless body for about 30 minutes, while we all petted him and said our goodbyes.

I was pretty upset, but I was mostly holding it together -- being strong. Then, when I got home, I was trying to finish sewing a baby blanket for a friend who was having a baby shower the next day. I was attaching a satin blanket border, and the seams weren't even enough. And when I got to the end and the last corner started to fray, I lost it. Fortunately my boyfriend was on his way over to take me to dinner and to stay the night (he was taking me to my friend's shower 3 hours away the next day -- by some amazing stroke of luck, his friend was having a graduation party on the same day, at about the same time, only 1.5 miles from where my friend was having her shower, so he took me). When he got there, I was sobbing hysterically on my couch. He tried to comfort me, tried to tell me that I did a good job on the blanket and was being too hard on myself (though, I still don't feel I could give that to anyone). But the real issue wasn't the blanket. It was just the feeling of being so overwhelmed by pain and frustration and emotion. It was like the blanket was just the straw that broke the camel's back. It just reminded me of how I feel like nothing in my life seems to want to go right, right now.

I also tried talking to my youngest brother on the Monday after Father's Day, about my dad. I gave him a bunch of print-outs from the internet about meth addictions. The conversation went better than I expected -- but mostly because I handled myself better than I thought I would. He mostly reacted as I thought he would -- acting like he already knew all of this stuff, and listening, but not deeply. He said he knew my dad was still using (even though my dad denies it), and that he didn't believe the crap he was saying about my mom. But, he's been being a real brat to my mom for the past month or so -- calling her a "fucking bitch" and "crazy" to her face, disrespecting her decisions, telling my dad all the stuff she's doing, trying to control her and everything else. My mom has about had it with him. So, I tried to talk to him about how things were going with her, too. I tried to give him some advice on working with our mom. Honestly, if he keeps this up, she'll probably end up kicking him out of the house. I have to say I agree. He's doing things that put my mother in real physical danger. If he thinks he's such a big bad adult (at the age of 19) who knows everything and can make all the right decisions, then maybe he needs to be doing that on his own, outside of the house.

Then, about a week before we put Chip down, my mom found out my brother had called his friend who lives across the street to warn him that a "cop" would be sitting down at the end of the street watching my mom, so he wouldn't do anything and get busted. This kid came over and told my mom about it. We never saw anyone, and my mom knows people in the Sheriff's Department, and had it looked into. No officer was watching the street, or her, or anything like that. So, I'm wondering if my dad didn't hire a private investigator, or something. What it definitely says is that my brother has been talking a lot with my dad, and involved to some degree in the irrational decisions he's making -- perhaps even helping him. I wish I could make my brother understand how much that only hurts his dad, not help him.

Then, as if things couldn't get any weirder, my mom got a phone call the Monday after we put our dog down. A man called on her cell phone, asking for my brother. When my mom asked who was calling, the man identified himself only as an FBI agent from the "Duty Office" in
Oakland. My mother kept pressing him to give her his name or other identifying info, and he wouldn't. My mom ended up handing the phone to my brother, and the guy asked him if there was anything my brother wanted to tell him about my dad. My brother only replied that my dad had been under a lot of stress lately. Then the guy asked for my brother's birth date, and his cell phone number. And then I guess he ended the call.

My mom logged the info, and told my brother that if the guy called again that he was to tell him that they would only speak to him if he came in person with a Sheriff's officer and a warrant, and otherwise, not to answer any questions. But, it left both my mom and I scratching our heads wondering what the hell it was all about.

My mom had a court date the next day about some of the divorce stuff. She got exclusive rights to the house. My dad has to pay spousal support (though my mom has to pay the mortgage, which is fine). Although, my dad tried to tell the judge he was afraid my mom would destroy the house (which is BS) so the judge said he could come over to the house once a week (or maybe every two weeks, I don't remember exactly), with 24 hours notice to my mom. My mom will have someone there, though, to make sure my dad doesn't take anything or tamper with anything. My dad also tried to tell the judge my mom put the family dog down without notifying him, which isn't true. My aunt called my dad the day before (right after my mom made the appointment) and told him. They even invited my dad to be there. And my brother who has been talking a lot with my dad, also knew. My dad's attorney came to court totally unprepared. And according to my mom, my dad kept mouthing off to the judge, trying to tell him all kinds of things. The judge didn't step in and shut him up though. It is obvious that he's out of his mind, and willing to say or do anything to "protect" himself. And it makes me so incredibly scared for my mom, and her safety.

That same day, my mom called the FBI office in
San Francisco about the call she got. They directed her to the Oakland office where she was told that the on duty agent had called her cell phone Monday night. Turns out my dad went to the FBI office on Monday and tried to tell them all kinds of things about my mom (my mom didn't want to know what he was saying, because she can't handle it emotionally right now). My mom's attorney, and a veteran Sheriff's officer we know (who just took a class on the FBI) both told her that this agent should lose his job for what happened. He completely broke protocol. My mom might pursue a complaint against the agent. I definitely think she should. Lord only knows what my dad said, and how much worse his conspiracy theories are getting.

The fact that he's taking things to this level just shows that it's only getting worse. Why can't the rest of his family see that?! Why don't they seem to get that he is sick, and is in desperate need of help? All I can hope, at this point, is that eventually they won't be able to deny it any longer. I just hope it's not too late for my dad -- not that his family opening their eyes will undoubtedly make him better, but it will allow them to stop enabling him.

Part of me feels like I'm either starting to get used to how crazy things are, or I'm just becoming numb. I feel like I'm standing in the middle of a field, fists clenched, waiting for the tornado in front of me to come slamming into me. I want this all to be over, but it's so far from it. Somehow, I have to figure out how to pick up the pieces of my life, and start trying to move on.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Father's Day

It's Father's Day. I've been apprehensive about this day for a while now -- particularly since the incident with Jon and my dad happened. Friday I agonized over what to do. Do I send a card? Call my dad? Do nothing? Finally I settled on sending a card. I didn't want to do nothing at all. But I also didn't know if I could handle talking to him. I'm still angry over what happened on Jon's birthday, and I can't just pretend like nothing is wrong when it's very obvious my dad has a serious problem. To me, pretending everything is okay, and that my dad doesn't have a problem is the same as enabling him. I just can't do it.

Fast-forward to 7:45 this morning. I'm asleep in my bed when the phone rings. It's my grandparents. Did something happen? Is everything okay? A little bit of panic sets, and I wonder what could prompt them to call so early. I answer -- it's my grandmother. She apologizes for calling so early, but wanted to invite my brothers and I to an impromptu gathering tonight for Father's Day.


I make up some excuse about not knowing what's going on today, yet. I say I'm not sure if I can make it, but that I'll call her back in a couple of hours and let her know. Secretly I'm thinking "No! No! I can't go. I don't want to go. You don't understand -- this is wrong!" But how do I say that to my poor grandmother, who doesn't understand that something is wrong?

I don't know what to do. On the one hand, I can go, put a fake smile on my face, and pretend like I'm having a good time -- mostly for my grandparent's sake. But then I have to continue pretending like everything is okay, when it's not. On the other hand, I can call and say I can't make it. But then I risk looking like a bit of a jerk and a flake on Father's Day. However, I don't know if I can handle it, emotionally.

I can't pretend like I'm not angry and scared and hurt. I can't pretend like my dad doesn't have a problem. I can't sit there and act like I don't see the elephant in the room, like everyone else seems content in doing. I don't want to put on this act until my father ends up killing himself, or hurting my mother, or something else tragic happens. I don't want to be standing there, mouth agape, saying "oh my, whatever went wrong?" like everyone else will do. Denying that there is a problem is the same as enabling it. And in my mind, when you enable, you're just as responsible for whatever happens as the person you're enabling. Sure, you probably can't stop the person from indulging in their destructive behavior, but at least you can expose the problem, and refuse to be a part of it. And then hopefully the person will wake up and get help.

I feel like I'm being forced to lose my father, and my family along with it. I just don't know if I can handle being around my dad while he's got this "secret" addiction. I can't deal with his psychotic conspiracy theories. I can't act like everything is okay for special occasions, and give my dad the impression that I'm buying into all of his bullshit. But, if I step away from my dad, I pretty much have to step away from his family. I don't know how I can go to family functions, where my dad is also in attendance. I cannot have a relationship with the meth. I cannot have a relationship with an addict father. So, what do I do? Shun my dad until he gets help and gets clean, yet still attend family functions as "normal"? Assuming my dad would also likely be there, I can't just ignore him the whole night, and pretend like he is not there.

This should be a much easier decision to make. Most people would read this and say "just don't go then." But it's not that easy. I always worry too much about other people's feelings -- sometimes to the point of sacrificing my own. I guess I'm afraid of what people will think of me. I always try to do what is "right," and what's the most considerate of others. Maybe it's my fear of abandonment that causes that. Maybe I'm afraid that if I do something selfish that others won't like me and will turn their backs on me. But maybe, for my own sake, I need to learn to be a bit of a "jerk" sometimes. I need to learn how to say "no" and feel good about it.

"No." Why does such a little word have to be so loaded? Why does it have to carry so much guilt and pain? How can a word that is so universally understood be so hard to speak?

But it's what I have to do. I have to risk looking like a "jerk" by turning down the invitation. Though, it doesn't save me from the next time. How many times can I say "no" before people just stop asking -- for good? And if I take this stance of not wanting to be around my dad until he gets help, it'll most likely mean sacrificing Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthday celebrations... everything, until my dad gets better. I don't know if that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make. Yet, I also know I can't deal with turning a blind eye to my dad's addiction, and then acting shocked when my dad has a heart attack, or a stroke, or OD's, or kills himself, or gets arrested, or hurts my mother or someone else.

So, rock or a hard place? Which do I choose? God, this isn't fair. Why do I get to be the loser because of my dad's stupid mistake?

Anybody who says drugs are a victimless crime is an idiot. Try convincing my mother, who is losing her marriage, her dreams for the future, her family, her security, and so much more, that drugs don't hurt anyone but the user. Tell that to all the people out there like me that are struggling with coping with the unfair burden placed on their shoulders because of someone else's drug use. Tell that to the millions of children out there who have lost a parent, or who grew up in substandard conditions because their parents were more interested in getting and taking drugs than raising their kids right. Nobody starts taking drugs thinking they'll get addicted. Everyone thinks "I can stop whenever I want to." But the fact that they're still using, killing their body and their minds, says that they can't. Addiction just happens, whether you realize it or not. And by that point it's too late -- everything around you is teetering on the brink of destruction, all because of a stupid, selfish decision.


Well, it's done. My grandmother called to tell me she was going to the store, in case I tried calling. I told her I couldn't make it. She said my aunts and uncles would be there too, and I heard the regret in her voice as she said "well, do whatever you have to do. We'll miss you."

This isn't fair. Why should I have to be the one sacrificing and hurting because of what my dad has done? Same for my mom. She doesn't deserve the pain she's going through because of my dad's addiction to meth.

Please say there's a light somewhere at the end of this tunnel....

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Fighting the Devil

I've come down with an out of season cold. I rarely get sick as it is, so the fact that I've been hit now is a testament to how stressed I am. But right now I have an even bigger illness to fight - my dad's addiction to methamphetamine.

Monday morning, on the way out to work on BART, I was a complete zombie. To fellow passengers, I must have looked like a wreck. My eyes gazed coldly out the window, focusing on nothing, staring right through everything. The whole world looked different. It felt different. It was different.

After talking it out with a few people, the fog began to lift. This is no longer about the divorce. My dad has a disease. He's addicted to meth, and it's destroying his life. And it's only getting worse. It's probably going to continue to get worse.

Knowledge, no matter how disturbing, has always been comforting to me. When I don't understand something, I expend a lot of energy trying to figure it out. I can get quite obsessive, honestly. But, it usually helps me tremendously in getting through whatever problem it is I have. Ignorance, in my world, is not bliss. It's anything but.

So, I did what was normal for me then. I began researching meth like crazy. I needed to know what it was, what it did, how it started, who it affected, why it worked the way it did, how it could be fought, if it could be fought... My brain needed to conquer this.

Quickly I came to realize that this is not something that can just "go away." Meth is probably as bad as it gets when it comes to drugs. Think cocaine is bad? Meth is to cocaine as a nuclear bomb is to a microwave. Cocaine is easier to get off of. Meth is the Devil. From your first hit, it begins to take over your body, changing your body's chemistry, and remapping the neurotransmitters in your brain (pretty much permanently) so that you essentially cannot live without the drug. Once the Devil has invaded your body, slowly it starts to destroy your life. It shoves the real you way deep down inside, and locks you up so you can't get free.

Paranoia and delusions are known side effects of prolonged meth use. Not everyone experiences them, and the extent and manor in which they are manifested can vary widely, depending on the individual. The psychosis could be caused directly by the meth, in which case it goes away much faster after the user gets clean. But, it can also have been born from a pre-existing, but dormant condition that the meth triggered. In that case, battling the psychosis could be a lifelong fight.

There is no doubt in my mind that my father is suffering from amphetamine induced psychosis. And it's absolutely terrifying. I love my father very, very much. And I realize that if he doesn't get help, and get better, that he may die.

I know that I was trying to stay out of the middle of my parent's problems. But, this isn't "my parent's problems." This is my dad's disease that is affecting the entire family. I spent a lot of time over the last two days thinking hard about what this meant, and what I was going to do (if anything). I realized that I had two choices: I could do nothing, and hope that my dad hit rock bottom on his own, and chose to get clean, but take the very real and more likely risk that I'd be attending his funeral in the not too distant future; or I could try to do something, and face the very real risk that it wouldn't work, and that I could possibly lose my family and my father as a result of standing up to the Meth Devil.

You see, my dad's family has always had a tendency to "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil." We already tried to talk to my dad's brother about what was going on, nearly two months ago. He confronted my dad about the meth use, but my dad lied and told him he hadn't been using since February (fyi: meth users, paranoid or not, ALL lie, manipulate, and deceive those around them -- including themselves. It's part of the Meth Devil. It's a tool it uses to keep itself inside the user's body). My uncle fell for it hook line and sinker. He came back and took the stance that my dad didn't have a problem, that he wasn't using any more, and that my dad wasn't crazy. He even made some comment to the effect of "I've known hardcore drug addicts and meth users, and your dad isn't one of them. He doesn't look like them or act like them." YES HE DOES! He IS a meth user. He IS suffering from meth related psychosis. He IS sick and addicted. He IS suffering from other symptoms such as increased talkativeness, severe lack of sleep, increased energy, destruction of cherished relationships, and weight loss (particularly within the past couple of months), among other things!

My uncle's refusal to admit and accept that something is seriously wrong with my dad has me incredibly concerned. I could try to talk to my dad's family, and show them what is really going on. But, what if they don't believe me? What if they don't believe me because they don't want to believe me? What if they continue to enable my father, thinking he's not an addict, and he's not acting like a paranoid schizophrenic, because they just don't want to believe it? It's quite possible. And if they do that, I risk them alienating me as a "trouble maker." I risk losing my family, whom I love very much.

Plus, there are my brothers. At this point I don't know how convinced either of them are about my dad's delusions. I do know that my youngest brother, who has been living at my parent's house with my mom, has let my dad inside the house a few times since he left. And according to my dad, my little brother has been sneaking papers out of the house to give to him, so my dad could find more "evidence." This angers and scares me. First for my mom's safety. My dad seems to be thinking more aggressively, particularly with his threats of going to my mom's father's house, or tapping the phone lines. What if he gets into the house and hurts my mother? He hasn't been violent in the past, and he hasn't shown any serious indications that he's about to become violent. But, that doesn't mean he couldn't, and wont. Meth is a scary thing. The behavior of a meth addict can be highly unpredictable. And violence is another known side effect, particularly for those suffering from meth psychosis.

So, somehow I have to reach out to my brothers and convince them of what is happening. I need to try to get them to see that dad is sick and needs help. The longer they continue to fall for my dad's lies and manipulations, the harder a fall they are setting themselves up for. Plus, by them believing and supporting my dad's lies they are enabling his meth addiction, and preventing him from hitting bottom and realizing and seeking help.

Meth causes the user to stop caring about anything outside their addiction. The addiction takes top priority over EVERYTHING, including marriages, children, work, paying the bills, favorite hobbies, morals, values, EVERYTHING. Maintaining their body's need for meth (an actual physiological need, since every cell in the body has been trained to need meth to function) becomes more important than anything else in the world. That's why so many meth addicts lose everything. Eventually, if my brothers, or other family members continue to stay attached to my father like they are, my dad will "give up" on them, too. Eventually they won't be important. They may even stand in the way (either in reality or in his delusions) of him getting his "fix." And that will be a hard blow to all of them.

Pretending like this isn't happening will NOT make it better. So, I've decided that I must at least try to get through to the people who love my dad about what is happening. Boundaries have to be set, by everyone. We have to stop ourselves from trying to cushion his fall(s). He's gotta hit the ground ass first, all by himself, before he can even possibly start to think he may need help. And even then, it might not happen. Or his quest to get clean could very likely fail.

Let me assure you that I do realize that neither myself, nor anyone else, can convince my dad that he has a problem and that he needs help. The delusions he's experiencing truly are his reality. And only he can decide that he wants to get clean. Nobody else can do it for him. But, what we can do is set very strict boundaries, and enforce them. We can let him know that we love him but that we know he is addicted to meth. We can refuse to not believe the Meth Devil's lies and manipulations. We can pledge to be there for him when he decides to get help. We can refuse to enable him any longer so that perhaps he'll hit bottom and realize he needs help sooner. I also realize that NONE of that may even work. And I realize that by me trying to do something, I might be biting off more than I can chew. But I have to try.

I just hope my dad gets help before he ends up dead.

Monday, June 06, 2005

And the Plot Thickens...

Yesterday was my boyfriend's 25th birthday. In the morning, I got a phone call from my dad. He asked if my boyfriend was working, and I told him "no, it's Jon's birthday today." He told me he needed to talk to Jon and asked if I could have him call him. I made the stupid mistake of not asking my dad what he wanted to talk to him about. (As some additional background info, my boyfriend is a police officer.) So, I called my boyfriend and asked him to call my dad. My dad told Jon he needed to talk to him in person, needed his advice, and asked to meet with him. Jon met him half an hour later at a park near his house.

I arrived at Jon's house shortly after he came home from meeting with my dad. He told me that my dad pulled out a bunch of papers (like the ones he had been trying to show me and everyone else, as "proof" of what my mom had been supposedly doing). And he basically started trying to convince Jon that his paranoid delusions were real.

He also had new "information." He told my boyfriend that he now believes that my mother is part of a prostitution ring out of a nearby city (that is known for crime and gangs and violence). He said that through this ring my mother has access to over $100k. He also said that he found a piece of paper (one of his "tracings," I'm presuming) with six names on it, including my mother's. It appeared to him to be some sort of vote sheet. Two of the names, including my mother's, had a "no" after it. He claims that this prostitution ring had decided to have my dad killed on July 6, 2006, (he says now that this is when my mom's CD account is up) because he supposedly had found out too much about all this money. He said he was supposed to be shot during a drug deal gone bad in another local city notorious for crime and violence. He then went on to tell my boyfriend that my mother had been with 322 men through this prostitution ring. (If you knew my mother, you would understand how absolutely ludicrous this is. My mother is NOT a prostitute. She doesn't look like the kind of person who could be a prostitute. And morally and spiritually she is not that kind of person either.)

He kept trying to show Jon all of these papers he had. Jon told him that nothing he had would prove anything, and that they wouldn't hold up as evidence. My dad told Jon that he was thinking of tapping the phone lines to find out what was going on. Jon advised him against it, telling him that it was illegal. Then my dad said he knew that my mom's dad had a safe at his house (which is true) and that my dad thinks he knows the combination to the safe. And he thinks that my mom has been hiding money in there. He told Jon he wanted to go over to my grandfather's house, and Jon advised him against that, too. He also said something about my mom shuffling money from one account to like 32 other accounts, in an attempt to not leave a paper trail (which actually would leave MORE of a paper trail... wouldn't it?)

Then he told Jon that he thought he had my two brothers convinced, and that he thought he had his parents convinced of what was going on, and of what my mom was doing. He even said he's been having my youngest brother, who is still living in my parents' house with my mom, bring him pieces of paper (I'm assuming out of notebooks and notepads and stuff my mom has used), and that's how he's getting all this new information.

Then my dad said that he was worried that I didn't believe him. Jon reminded him that I didn't want to be put in the middle of his problems with my mom. And then he told him that unless my dad had official evidence that absolutely proved what he was saying, I wouldn't believe it. It pisses me off because almost two weeks ago I went out to dinner with my dad, and told him I didn't want to be put in the middle. And he told me he understood and agreed that neither myself nor my brothers should be put in the middle of all of this. And then he tries to drag my boyfriend in the middle, essentially to try to convince me!

Jon also told me that my dad was almost definitely on some sort of stimulant when he met with him. He pulled out this card officers use to help identify that someone is under the influence of something, and what it may be. He said that the indicators under stimulants (which includes meth) were exactly what my dad was exhibiting. And remember, my boyfriend is a cop, so he's trained to be able to detect when someone is on something. These were also the same symptoms my dad has been exhibiting off and on for the past couple of years.

Jon feels the same way I do now. He's very concerned for my dad, because it is obvious he is living in an altered state of reality, and truly believes that his delusions are real. And, he's concerned for my mother's safety, because my dad seems hell-bent on proving he's right... and the fact that he's using drugs make his behavior highly unpredictable.

At this point, I don't know what the hell to do. I am so scared for my brothers, too. If my dad really is convincing him of this stuff (they are 19 and 20, and not very emotionally or intellectually mature. And I know how confused I felt at first when my dad started trying to convince me weeks ago, because in a way he sounds so sane and rational, and like he really believes what he's saying. Plus, it's hard to admit that your dad has gone seriously crazy. So, I can only imagine the mental prison my brothers must be locked in right now). I don't know how to help them though. Part of me wants to just run away and not be involved... and I know that in a way it's probably what is best for me. But I can't stand by and watch my dad destroy my brother's lives with all this garbage.

I want to confront my dad, but I know it won't do any good. I want to tell his family that he's on meth (I know none of them, except my dad's brother knows -- and even my dad's brother is in serious denial about it, and doesn't think it's "that bad.") But my dad's family has always had a habit of sweeping things under the rug, and pretending like they aren't happening. They don't like dealing with things, and I don't think they'll want to believe this. So, I risk alienating my family. Plus, I don't know if I can have a relationship with my dad while he is in this sort of a state. I love my dad very much, and want him to continue being a part of my life. But, not like this. So, I'm afraid of losing him, too.

I'll admit I'm jealous of those of people whose parents have "normal" reasons for divorce. I wish it were something as simple as my dad decided to leave my mom for some 25-year-old, or that my parents had just grown apart and no longer were happy together, or some of the other typical reasons people get divorced. Why do I have to have a dad who is on drugs, destroying his life and the lives of everyone around him, and concocting all these horrifying conspiracy theories?!

I feel like a shell of a person right now. I felt like I was just starting to kind of pull myself up from all of this, and then my dad has to pull this crap, and on my boyfriend's birthday at that! I thought after going to my grandfather's 85th birthday party the weekend before (I ultimately decided I was more likely to regret not going, than going), that things would be okay. My dad seemed mostly normal. My family seemed inviting, and I felt like eventually things would settle down, and I'd still be able to have my dad's family in my life. I just figured I'd have to suffer with the depression and hurt of seeing my parents' marriage dissolve, and the anger and frustration over the implications that had for my own life. But this is all so much more than that.

Even after the meeting with my mom a week ago, (where she told us they were going to have to sell the house, and would probably have to do so sooner than we expected, and also that our family dog, who is 12, isn't doing so hot, and that there is a possibility we may have to put him down after the house is sold) I figured those were painful things, but they were "normal" and I'd survive it. It hurt like hell to realize I'd be losing my childhood home, and my childhood pet.

But those things feel like nothing compared to how I feel now. I'd give anything to just have my dad back to "normal." What's going on with my dad is so much more serious than losing the house, or our dog, or my parents divorcing. He's sick. He's addicted to drugs. He's destroying his life. And he's taking everyone down with him. And I feel so helpless and lost and scared. I really don't know what the hell to do...