Saturday, August 21, 2010

Little Update

I don't have anything good to say tonight. Nothing uplifting. My heart is heavy and all I want to do is sleep.

My dad went from the psych ward to ICU at 4 am. They found him unresponsive with high BP when they checked him in the night. They gave him fluids in ICU and he was doing better, but became combative and refused all meds. So they had to restrain him and tie him to the bed.

I called this afternoon and my brother was in the room with him. We talked for a few minutes and then he asked dad if he wanted to talk to me. He refused. He put the phone to dad's ear and he said "I don't want to talk to her!".

And that, in a nutshell, is my relationship with my dad. Pathetic.

I want to believe God isn't done with him yet. I want to think a miracle is on the horizon. I know I should have hope, but I just...don't. Should I?

Anyway, so that is how it stands. I would love to have something really profound to say, or to tell you I am learning something from all of this. That it is changing me somehow. But I am just so tired and sad. I am weary of caring so much, and angry at myself for being so invested in his well being.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


When it comes to my complicated relationship with my father, everything is tangled. Like a ball of yarn, every thread of love, devotion, anger, sadness, disgust, disappointment, hope and longing is all wrapped together in my heart. It cannot be unwound. It has been bound since I was a child.

I have very intense memories of the heat of Vegas. The tar of the road was sour smelling and stuck to my shoes. Tunnels of Oleanders drooped over me as I hid underneath their shiny leaved, drinking too sweet Kool-Aid from a dirty plastic cup. My hands smelled like dirt, my clothes like smoke. And underneath it all was the permeating smell of booze, sharp and thick in my nostrils. It was everywhere- in the air, on my skin, on my father's breath.

Many times, I am still that little lost girl, wishing for a daddy that was a safe warm shelter.

My father always drank, but in spurts. Sometimes he would go months between binges- sometimes years. When he wasn't drinking, he was kind and loving. He was never a stellar father, but he was all I had. And then the drinking would begin again. I remember being afraid of this man I loved when he drank- not because he was mean, but because he became somebody I didn't know. His words would slur, his eyelids droop. He would care less and less about my whereabouts and ignore me more and more. And I would keep reaching out with more and more desperation the farther he pulled away. That dynamic is as much a part of me as my hands.

The hallmark of a child is the need for attachment and love. A fixed point of family like a north star. Consistency. Discipline. It makes you feel safe. And when that safety is abruptly removed or inconsistently displayed, a frantic sort of need sets in. It becomes ingrained to be wanted and to be seen.

The hallmark of an alcoholic is selfishness. The booze is everything. Nothing else matters. My father exemplifies this. It's a disgusting dance. Back and forth, back and forth. Love and sickness in every step.

So, there you have it.

I have many well meaning people in my life who give me advice about my father.

"Love him and forgive him." I do and I have.

"Distance yourself. Don't think about him." Oh God, don't I wish.

"It's about HIM, not YOU." This one is my favorite. Yes, I know it's about him. But it effects me too. And he is my father. And I love him. So it is about me, too.

"It would just be easier if he died." Yes, in some ways. And in others, not so much.

"Just let it go." I have tried. Many times. But it's tangled, you see.

Add my faith into this and you have a mess. I am supposed to forgive. Okay. But at what point does forgiving mean enabling? I am supposed to love. Well that has never been a problem for me. I love him. It would be easier if I didn't. Don't judge. Yeah, okay. That would be easier if he wasn't actively trying to kill himself and hurting all that love him in the process.

So what do I do?

I want to do the right thing. I want to do what God wants me to do. But I also want to preserve my sanity and not fall apart. How do I do both? How do I love and not engage? How do I get past the anger and stop feeling like that little girl, desperately crying out for a daddy that

I cannot unravel all of these threads. I cannot pull them apart now. They are, for better or worse, a part of how I feel about my father. I have no idea how to feel, what to do, or where to go with these feelings.

Tangled and tied. Just trying to put one foot in front of the other.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The ties that bind

I've been thinking about my dad for 2 days now. A tugging in my mind and soul- a pushing and pulling to make contact. I resisted until today, when I called my sister.

She was already crying. My sister does not cry. Ever.

My father fell in the rehabilitation home a week ago, hitting his head on a metal pole. He was taken to the hospital, checked out and cleared.

But since then he has been increasingly confused, and today has been wandering the halls since 5:30 AM, trying to strike the nurses with his cane, and acting increasingly paranoid.

They called an ambulance. He refused to go, saying that they were the cops and taking him to jail. This went on all day, until they called my sister and put him on the phone with her. She told him nobody was taking him to jail, just transporting him by ambulance to UNMC. He kept saying there were cops everywhere.

In the end, he went.

So now, we wait again.

My sister and I have never been super close. I love her dearly. She is loving and calm and has always shown me grace and care. But she is older than me, and was starting her married life when I was still very young. Our lives simply didn't mesh.

We don't talk often, don't even exchange Christmas cards.

But we are drawn together over this man that we both love, despite his many flaws. A man that did not treat either of us particularly well, and yet we still are invested in his world.

My sister loves him, but she also has the unenviable task of making decisions for his care. The decision that he won't go home again. That she will commit him to a nursing home for the rest of his life. Just in speaking to her, I can tell that the decision is weighing heavily on her. I am sad for her, wish I could hug her. I wish she didn't have to do this.

I ask her- "Should I come?" and she says "Maybe it's time."

And she says "If he would have just stopped drinking..." and we both sigh.

Because it is true. If he would have stopped drinking, he never would have fell. He wouldn't have stopped eating. He wouldn't have lost his mind.

My heart is so heavy tonight. I am thinking of my daddy alone in a hospital. Confused and possibly injured. Is it a stroke? Concussion? Is it the end?

And most heavy on my mind, my friends, is this: in my inability to stop being angry and disgusted, have I lost precious time? In making a decision to step away from something I cannot bear to watch, have I lost the father I knew? If I don't go, will he still know me if I do decide to wait?

I am torn, and angry at myself. I made a choice for my sanity, but I am now second guessing everything.


Shit shit shit.

I just want to do the right thing. The thing I can live with. The thing that lets me sleep at night, and helps me to make it through the day.

I wish I could be sure what that is.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Breastfeeding: A Love Story In Pictures

It is awesome, miraculous, beautiful. It is a journey I took for nearly 2 years with Lily, and now over 6 months and still going with Samuel. It saved me as a mother. Whenever I was uncertain, I offered the breast. Whenever I didn't know who I was as a mother, or what to do, I cuddled my babies close and nourished them. It is a connection and a bond I will never, ever lose with my babies.

It is national breastfeeding week, and I am so proud to have given my children this gift.

Monday, August 2, 2010

July 31, 2010

Your image has faded
though I feel you still
an your voice is still in my head
though your face has blurred
The walls of my Jericho heart are tumbling, tumbling
broken down by my babies smile
Do you see them?
His sweet neck, the scent of powder
Her hair, lying in waves across her back
Her spirit like a wildflower
His face, so open and sweet
Do you see them?
I think of you each day
pass your picture in the hall
your rosary in my drawer
broken beads under my fingertips
and you are missing this
all of this
my hands, dressing my babies
my face when I look at them
the wonder I feel
you are missing it all
each year that passes you get further away
never as distant as when you had breath
but farther in my mind
But still...
I love you
And still...
I invite you into my world
from wherever you are
Be with me.
I cannot give you life
I cannot change your caged and wounded soul
I cannot forget all of what you are or what you gave me
but I can do this:
I can have compassion for every kindness
I can remember your voice under my cheek
your hand on my back
I can remember falling asleep to your heartbeat.
all of it echoes
through my memory
and when I rock my babies
I whisper to them
so my voice becomes their lullabye
my whisper carrying them to dreams
just as you did
once and far away
for me.

Happy Birthday Mom.