My Dad… the only emotion I can feel about him full-force is guilt that I don’t love him more. I do love him, but he was such an irresponsible father and so deep into his alcoholism that it’s like he wasn’t even there. I figured out I had my shit together better than he did when I was about seven. My emotions are just all blunted when it comes to him.
My Mom has always hinted that the details around my conception are kinda sketchy… heavy drinking and her drifting in and out of consciousness. But when she told me the full truth… well, it’s a little less grey. When he was seventeen and my Mom was kinda dating him, he threw a party. He drugged my Mom’s drink and raped her. The story is corroborated by my uncle, who saw my Dad spike the drink and told my Mom she just got slipped a mickey. She had no idea what that meant.
I’m not surprised that he did this, because it’s just the sort of impulsive, reckless thing he would have done at that age. He felt so bad about what he did that he married my mother and wanted to be a good father. But he had whiskey problems back then and became abusive, so my parents were divorced inside of a year. My Dad has always called my mother his one true love and I can’t remember him ever speaking badly of her.
I spent a lot of time in bars with my Dad as a child, which isn’t as bad as it sounds, but the point is that my entire childhood experience with him was defined by his alcoholism. He felt so invulnerable when he was drunk that he would do crazy, dangerous things, and put me in danger with the belief that he had everything under control. When I was 13 I just had enough and asked for his parental rights to be terminated. He missed the worst decade of my life.
We’ve been in touch for the last five years (I’m 28 now.) I still don’t really feel anything, but he was really messed up by my absence, and has tried to overcompensate for his crappy parenting ever since we’ve rekindled a relationship. I see him once or twice a year and probably talk to him on the phone once a month. Our relationship is mostly pleasant, until he starts talking about how much he loves me, then the guilt kicks in.
My Mom doesn’t want me to hold this against him.
The tricky part is, my Mom had a really, really rough time as a single parent. Eventually she descended into mental illness and became abusive. I always sensed that she resented me so much, and she was always so bitter about her pregnancy and the social ostracism that came with it. I can’t help but feel like my Dad took away her chance at having a normal life - and therefore mine. But the irony is that I wouldn’t even have a life if he weren’t for the way he hurt my Mom.
I’ve thought about talking to him about it, but he’s so sad and old and broken down. I don’t really know if it’s worth harassing him about something he did 30 years ago and ostensibly feels awful about.