Sunday, June 17, 2012

Feeling some change on Father's Day

So, it's Father's Day again. I was all set to write a post explaining how I feel about Father's Day and how difficult it is for me to deal with every year. But then I remembered that I've already addressed those feelings in this blog before. In 2009 and again last year. So why bother doing it again? Instead, I'm going to repost my 2009 post, and comment on it briefly. First the post:

"Today is Father's Day, which is a 'holiday' I've struggled with for a long time. I actually kind of wish I could just skip this day each year.

First off, I've never really felt connected to my own father. Growing up the son of an alcoholic father will do that to you. To this day, anything father-related is very tough for me to deal with. Especially Father's Day. I always run through the same questions in my head: Should I call my father and wish him a happy Father's Day? Should I get him a card? Should I invite him over for dinner? What exactly should I do??? I wish it wasn't like that, but it is.

I also struggle with Father's Day as it relates to my own fatherhood. Despite everything I've read and have been told about how I'm not supposed to blame myself for my son's issues, I still can't help but wonder if I could've or should've done something differently while he was growing up. Something that might've put him on a different, better path.

Yes, it's Father's Day. But I'm struggling with it. Just like I do every year."

To be honest, the feelings I have toward my own father haven't changed. We really don't have a relationship because of his years of alcoholism. But I've come to accept that. It's baggage I've carried around for more than 40 years, so I'm kind of used to it. I will admit that it's little tougher this year, though, because as I write this post my dad is in the Veterans Administration hospital in downtown Detroit. He had some chest pains earlier in the week and has been in the hospital for a couple of days for observation. I went and visited him briefly yesterday, and I'm pretty sure he'll be released today or tomorrow. My dad is 86 years old and his health is not good. He should've been dead 30 years ago from all the drinking and smoking. (Think "Mad Men" x 20...and then some.) I'm not sure how he's survived this long. It truly is a medical miracle, for better or worse.

On the bright side, my feelings about my own fatherhood have changed. Over the last couple of years, I've come a long way in healing myself. To be honest, I never thought I'd get here. But I've finally realized that I didn't cause my son's addiction, I can't control it, and I certainly can't cure it. And I think I've done everything I possibly can as a father to help him with his situation. So I'm doing better in that regard. (For the record, I owe a lot of my progress in this area to my amazing wife.)

So now that the whole Father's Day thing is out of the way, here's a brief update on some other stuff going on.

My son is still in Atlanta. Actually, it's Cumming, Georgia, a town that really needs to think about changing its name. He is living with his friend in a lake house, which is next door to his friend's parents' lake house (on Lake Lanier). The house is vacant for a few months so they're renting it from the owner until they start hunting for an apartment or house to rent.

To the best of my knowledge, my son is still clean. Today would be 85 days. His next step is to get his driver's license and buy a car. Oh, and he still has to get a job. He's been looking, but it's tough because it's about five miles into town, and he really has no transportation. (His friend is still on probation and is limited as to where he can go.)

My wife and I had an incredibly fabulous weekend last weekend. We went to see two of our favorite female singer-songwriters--Kathleen Edwards and Rickie Lee Jones--on back-to-back nights. Both shows were amazing. And I was fortunate enough to be able to surprise one of our dearest friends by arranging a meeting with Rickie Lee Jones after that show. It sort of fulfilled a lifelong dream for her, so that was pretty great. (She also got to meet Kathleen Edwards.)

Lastly, our younger son finished 10th grade this past week and started Driver's Training. He continues to grow up more every day, and--despite the fact that he's a teenager--he's a sweet, sweet kid.

That about sums things up. My wife and I continue to heal and live our lives. We realize that we--both individually and as a couple--are important. And we will continue to take care of ourselves...and each other.

Postscript: While I was typing up this post, my wife said to me, "You got an e-mail from your mom." I wanted to share that e-mail with you just to show you what a beautiful, kind-hearted, angel of a woman I have for a mother. Here's her e-mail:

"HAPPY FATHER'S DAY my dearest Son.

I don't know how to express how proud I am of you and how much I Love You. I feel you must know my feelings.

[My sons' names] are very fortunate to have you as their Father. They might not fully realize this at their young age. Be patient with them.

As they grow older, and have many experiences both good and bad, they will understand and acknowledge what you have done for them. In the meantime, Love and Cherish both of them. They both are God's/the Universe's Gift to you (and you to them) to teach many lessons of Love (and Hate, too) in the journey you are all traveling.

Happiness to all of you (and [my wife's name], too, as their Mother) on this Special Day ... Your Mom, Always !! 

Postscript II: My son called today to wish me a happy Father's Day. He said, "I didn't even realize it was Father's Day until someone mentioned it at a meeting I was at." I smiled. Not only because he called to say,  "Happy Father's Day"; but because it was 2:30 in the afternoon on a Sunday and he had already been to an AA meeting. Not only that, my son said he got a new sponsor last night. And he confirmed that today is 85 days clean for him. "It'll be 90 days on the 22nd." I smiled again.

My son sounded really, really good. More mature. Level headed. Like he's been maturing, both chronologically and emotionally.

I've been the proudest father in the world all day long.

Happy Father's Day.


  1. Wow Dean, amazing.... I can relate. My father had issues with alcohol too.

    Sooo nice to hear of your son in GA, wow, awesome! Thank you so much for sharing your growth and inspiration, and for your support over the last 2 yrs! Just hit my 2 year AA mark (struggling a bit) but glad-glad-glad and need to remember that.

    This is exactly what i needed to hear this evening, much appreciated.

    xoxo, Katie Olson

  2. oh, Happy Fathers Day and thanks for posting your mom's note. I love this:
    "They both are God's/the Universe's Gift to you (and you to them) to teach many lessons of Love (and Hate, too) in the journey you are all traveling."

    ~Thanks Dean's mom:))
    Katie Olson
    Ventura, CA

  3. Wonderful, Dean! Be happy -- stay steady.

    The co-dependent journey can be like a roller coaster ride -- only if we let it.