Friday, October 16, 2009

Email From My Dad

I've been thinking about my dad today. Although I didn't speak to him for several years, he still wrote me continuous emails. I only have a couple now that I didn't delete. His writing was always weird and erratic. Here is one of the last I received from him.

In an email dated 7/25/07 he writes:

hey Tricia,

hope all is safe and well....time off?? beach?? lake?? swimming?? how is work?? busy?
get by the rains?? have a friend in norhtern mass that got nailed hard??? mike and joan to speak of...what is a fun time now?? playing in water?? speaking of the the water, pat & floyd called this past week.wanted to know if you have any orange tape leftover from apple throwing at Lamoine.......mackerel now...stripers next....then crustaceans for a decent price..

Tricia i am not far and would love to hear from you.lll i am still on the work beat, and am in hopes of getting a chance this week.....the kids are well as is nanny and soon ya lots............and i do miss ya ..Dad

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


It's been about a month since I've last posted. Quite a lot has happened as I'm sure you can imagine.

A few days after my last post, I went to the ER complaining of major chest and back pains. Come to find out, I had multiple blood clots in my chest. I was admitted to the hospital where I spent the next 2 days. Needless to say, that has been a major life change.

However, I am still having trouble with my family and have not been practicing detachment very well. Also, I have not been to therapy since a few weeks before I was hospitalized. I never really realized how much I have actually needed to go until I couldn't go. (Quick thanks to my husband who has always encouraged me to go! He certainly knows best...) I also still have not a:) attended al-anon meetings, which I really need to do and b:) have still not done more research that I wanted to do with regards to alcoholism, etc. and c:) my blog has been severely neglected. Wow I suck.

On the upside, I am doing really well in school thus far so I suppose I shouldn't beat myself up too much about not doing those other things. Kudos to all the working parents who are going to school at the same time. I don't know how you fit it all in. Good luck to ya.

Monday, September 14, 2009


School starts for me today. I'm very nervous and feeling a lot of pressure; most of it is self-inflicted. I've already read some of the introductions from other online students and I feel as though they are all much more advanced than I am. I am nervous that I won't understand what is going on and even though it's an online class, I will be laughed at and ridiculed.

I have to force myself to take deep breaths and tell myself that I will be fine. I must put everything else out of my mind and simply focus on the tasks at hand. I will go home after work today and get organized. I will make sure I know what the assignments are and begin the readings. When I write an introduction about myself to everyone else it will reflect the strong, smart, and confident woman I have become.

Or something like that.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Some Good Times

Hi Dad,

I think about you a lot. I try not to think about the bad times, but it's so hard for me to let those go. What's sad is that it's even harder to remember the good times. But I like to try.

I remember you always loved to laugh. Remember sitting around the dinner table one night and you had some ribbon you used as a bow tie to imitate a man and in a deep voice would say "YOU MUST PAY THE RENT" then move the ribbon to your head and say in a high squeaky voice "But I can't pay the rent" again and again? It seems like a really silly thing to do; not so funny to me now. But then we were all hysterical. All of us sitting around the table laughing and laughing so hard that tears streamed down our faces. I don't know what was more funny, your bad imitations or the fact that you were pretending to wear a bow in your balding head. We were so loud at dinner that afterward when I went to play outside with Danielle, she asked me what the heck we were laughing at.

Remember all of our camping trips to Lamoine? Those trips are by far the best memories I have of my family growing up. I loved to be there and so did you. I remember you would get up just after sunrise when the tide was out to go dig clams with your brothers. J, A, and I would join you later on in the morning to "help". But mostly we just did our own thing haha. Remember the big lobster bakes we would have later on in the afternoons? Lobsters bought right off fisherman's boats, fresh clams dug that morning, and fresh mussels too. Plus any fish we happened to catch that day grilled right over the fire. I loved sitting there, surrounded by your mom and dad, your brothers, their families, and us. The sun beating on our backs, a hint of ocean smell in the air. Everyone talking and laughing with lobster butter dripping off our chins.

Remember your garden? You loved to play in the dirt. You were always so proud when your plants started to grow and we would have fresh veggies for dinner. "It doesn't get any fresher than this", you used to say. I especially loved the fresh green beans I would help you pick and stem. I'm pretty sure I would always eat more than I would get ready for dinner! Someday, I hope to have a garden as good as yours.

Remember playing Christmas carols on your trombone with your "cronies"? You were so good. The four of you together were great. I would love to go with you and listen as your brass quartet traveled around to store fronts, parking lots, and hospitals playing all the Christmas classics. None of you ever did it for money. You did it to put smiles on people's faces. I definitely had a smile on mine.

Remember the fish hook? Haha...I will never forget that night when we were packing to leave the next morning for a camping trip. I felt very responsible because mom was at work so I was in charge of helping you pack up the camper and make sure we didn't forget anything. I don't know how I managed to do it, but while setting down a fishing pole in front of the car, the fish hook went clear into my index finger. How I screamed! I'm sure the entire neighborhood heard. You immediately ran over to see what was wrong. After surveying the situation, you took control, running to get some scissors and cut the line to bring me inside. You sat me down on the couch; I was crying so bad. You looked at my face and I could see you looked so worried. You told me that you were so so sorry but you had to just pull it out, there was no other way to do it. I became frantic, hysterical almost. You told me that we were going to take a deep breath together and on the count of three you were going to do it. After you did, you immediately wrapped my finger in a paper towel to catch the blood and pulled me to you. You were crying then too because you felt so bad for hurting me. Although this wasn't my most shining moment, what I remember most is how you took care of me.

Those are good memories, Dad. We had some good times together, as much as I sometimes try to deny them. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I miss you. And I forgive you. And I'm sorry. I'm more sorry that I never told you when I had the chance. I hope that you forgive me.

I love you.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Back to School

Like a lot of 17/18 year-olds who have just graduated from high school, I went off to attend college in the Fall of 1999. Four and 1/2 years later, without my degree in hand, I quit. For some reason, it seriously took me about 3 or 4 years after I left to that to realize I had made a huge mistake and how invaluable an education really is in this country. It's taken me another two years to gather my courage and actually go back. So I start in 4 days.

I am really nervous, mostly about my self-discipline and establishing good study habits; but I'm very excited too. I want so badly to do this for myself and to have that always elusive sense of accomplishment. I feel like I have never finished anything and if I can finish my degree, and finish it well, it will be another huge step in the right direction. I will be taking care of myself and in turn will be able to take better care of my husband and our families. I have high expectations. This is a huge opportunity I have been presented with. I won't let myself down again.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Last Few Days....

The last few days have been emotional ups and downs. I feel like I continually watch my family fall further and further apart and there's nothing I can do about it. No one listens to me or learns from the mistakes I've made. I am trying to learn detachment but it is very difficult for me to do. I am saddened and still feel guilty for all I have done. Nothing is my fault yet I feel as though everything is my fault.

I have my moments. At some times I am able to let go and let them be whoever they're destined to be. It is hard because I get angry, hurt and upset when they don't take care of themselves. I try to realize that I need to take care of myself and my husband. He is my family now too and not only needs, but should get the most I have to give. But I can take care of everyone....can't I?

Thursday, September 3, 2009


I feel like a failure today.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

It's Hard To Forgive because It's Hard To Forget

It's 11:00 PM. I'm just pulling onto my street after a double shift at my crappy restaurant job when my phone rings. It's my mom. I can barely understand what she's saying because she's crying so hard. I pull into a parking space and shut the car off but don't get out. I try to soothe her, attempting to calm her down enough to at least understand what's going on. Something's happened with my father; that much I can make out. No surprise there.

These particular couple of months during the Spring 2004 was one of the several times my parents had tried to get past my father's drinking and work out their marriage. That night, she had stopped by the house they used to share to talk to him. About what, I'm not sure. That part is still unclear. When my mom walked in, he was there with a woman. My mom immediately started screaming and crying, both at him and the other woman. My father, never one to admit when he's wrong, immediately started making excuses. They never set the boundaries, he said, so he was doing nothing wrong. Of course my mom was irate. A screaming match ensued, and my mom ended up punching a hole right through one of the walls. So my dad, who had always been uncomfortable when confronted, did the only reasonable and logical thing he could think of. He called the police. He told them some unwelcome crazy woman was being physically abusive in his home. My mom, feeling so hurt and betrayed just went outside and cried and cried and cried. She didn't know who she should for help. She ended up calling her father out of sheer desperation. When he heard, my 84 year-old grandfather immediately jumped in the car with my very sick grandmother sitting in the passenger seat, and traveled a 1/2 an hour at night to go rescue his daughter.

My Pepe knew about my father's drinking, but had always believed with all his might that things could be worked out between him and my mother. The events of this night shocked and disappointed him. My amazing, good-hearted, WW II veteran Pepe had been with his wife for 50 years and just couldn't grasp what my father was doing to himself or his family.

A few minutes before they arrived was when my mom called me. She could hardly breathe, let alone talk to tell me what was wrong because she was crying so bad. My heart ached. I was 150 miles away; what could I do? Have you ever had to endure that pain of listening to your own mother cry hysterically like that and ask you why over and over? why would he do this? why was she not good enough for him? why doesn't he love her? I hope you haven't. How do you answer? What can you say? Tricia, she sobbed into the phone, when are you coming home? She needed me, she said. I was her support. I knew I hadn't been there enough lately, but things had seemed to be going well.

I could hear my father yelling something at my Pepe. I couldn't believe he was yelling at him. My blood was boiling and I wished I could hit him. My father was hurting the two people I loved most in this world. I couldn't stand it. What right did he have to do this? How much did we have to take from him? He was so selfish. He didn't care about my mom, my sisters, or my grandparents who've always treated him like a son...he didn't care about me.

Somehow, my level-headed grandfather managed to peel my mother away from the chaos, talk down the police officers and bring her to where she lived.

I did go home the next day. I held my mom's hand and stroked her back while she cried in my lap; both of us had tears streaming down our faces.

Later on that day I made a visit of my own to my father's house. I wouldn't go in to meet him so he came outside. I told him I couldn't believe that he had treated my mother like that. I told him I couldn't stand to be around him. I told him to not ever contact me, to leave me, my mother, my sisters alone my entire family and everyone I loved, ALONE. I didn't want any part of his shit anymore. You are not my father. I did not cry. I told him that I never wanted to talk to him or to hear from him ever again. He was speechless. He just stared at me not saying a word. His face was red and he was breathing heavy, but he didn't say one word. I walked away and I didn't look back. I backed out of the driveway and I could still see him standing outside, watching me as I drove away.

Five years later, with 2 more DUI's, continual drinking binges, countless seizures, 22 months of unemployment, and one unforgiving daughter, he was dead.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Honestly Myself

I don't want to relive the past, but at the same time I can't seem to let it go. I am hoping that by getting it out in this blog I am finally getting it all out in the open. No more lies or secrets.

A couple of months ago, before I had the courage to publicly post my words here, I started writing my book. Not a continuous chapter by chapter book, but more like entries of whatever I was thinking about that day. Not unlike what I do here.

My new found honesty still surprises me. That I am able to finally be honest with myself is shocking. Here is a sample:

I never knew I could be so inhumane. That I had the ability to shut my father out completely and so coldly for years speaks volumes about my character. If I could be this awful to someone who loved me and desperately needed my help, then I have the ability to fuck around with anyone. My mom, my sisters, my boyfriends, friends. The farther I tried to push my father away, it seemed the more I became exactly like him. I was so careless in my actions that hurting him became the gateway to all my other bad, extremely hurtful behavior. I was hurt and angry and since I didn’t know how to express myself in a healthy way (it would take years for me to admit that I was angry and had a problem), I lashed out the only way I knew how. It’s not that I didn’t realize there would be consequences; it was more that I didn’t care. My denial of anything real was problematic. I would avoid any sort of confrontation, especially when I was being confronted. I was a coward. I was insecure and purposefully blinded by ignorance and alcohol. I was my quietest, most private, and coldly calculating when I was sober. I was obnoxious, hurtful, and carefree when I was drunk. Nothing bothered me when I was high on pot or drinking. I would deal with everything tomorrow. But tomorrow, I would be drinking and smoking so I wouldn’t have to deal with anything today. I avoided my family. The guilt I felt from staying away was nothing compared to the guild I felt when I was around them. I didn’t wan them knowing just how badly I had fucked my life up. I ruined everything and created these people I don’t even know; these people who I certainly don’t want knowing me. The real, awful me. It is my fault that eventually both my sister’s relationships with my father suffered severely. Thanks to me, when he died he had absolutely nothing and no one left. I should be proud. Just doing what you taught me dad.

Monday, August 24, 2009

For My Father

Early 2005

Is it impossible to see what you're doing is fake?
The world you make is yours to break.
Can't you see that you're hurting more than just you?
The loved ones you pushed away can no longer see you through.

Think back a few years on that day long ago,
Were the vows you said just vows for show?
'Till death do you part spoken straight from the heart.
Nothing's supposed to be more important on that day when you start
A life, with a wife and three kids.
Now look at what you did.

A family is torn apart
There's so much unhappiness inside.
Ending on that day because of one fateful ride.
I don't feel bad for you anymore, not that I could;
You've caused more hurt and pain than anyone should.
Take a look at your life and the house in which you sleep,
There's no one left anymore, only yourself to keep.

Have you ever asked yourself why?
I really can't help but wonder;
How a grown man couldn't stop from going under?

So there's nothing left for us to do;
We can only watch and wait;
To see if you'll ever step up and take hold of your fate.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Time has flown by, as it usually does. My sisters are not so young anymore. Now J is 22 and A is 18. I worry about them constantly. I do not like the women they are becoming. So full of hurt, anger, and bitterness. They are rude and mean and expect the world to revolve around them. But I love them and have a fierce loyalty to them. The protectiveness and worry I've always had, I have now even more so.

A is about to be a freshman in college. She leaves for school in less than a week. She seems so fragile and vulnerable to me. I am scared that she will fall into the wrong crowd. She seems to be so easily influenced. I love her because she so easily sees the wrong-doings of so many people. I worry for her because she cannot see when she does those same things and the double standards she creates. Her boyfriend is a "pot-head". He graduated from high school over a year ago and has no ambition to get out of his parent's house or to even get a job. A tells me that sometimes he makes her go into the store to buy blunt wraps for him because he is too lazy to do it himself. She swears to me that she doesn't smoke. I am afraid because I'm not sure that I fully believe her. I lecture her as much as I dare. Even though you're not smoking, and you get pulled over by the cops, I tell her, you're still going to get into trouble. I can't lecture her too much because I am petrified she will get annoyed and shut me out like J has. So I constantly assure her I am here for her NO MATTER WHAT and she should call me for ANY reason.

J is a completely different person now. I feel as though I hardly know her. We used to talk a lot on the phone. She used to come have dinner with me or my husband and I would take her out. All that has gradually changed over the past 2 years. She is shut in. She keeps all her feelings and emotions wrapped up tight. She won't even let my mom in. I feel her resentment towards me yet I can't quite understand it. She could have the happiness and freedom I am starting to have, if only she could face herself. She refuses counseling or help in any way. She is still in that denial we were all so tucked away in. I am saddened by her refusal to let us help her. She claims she's fine.

I went home this past weekend to visit my family. J went out with some friends and came home wasted and puking. My mom sat with her for a long time while she threw up and kept trying to peel her off the bathroom floor. J refused to move, adamant on convincing my mom to leave her on the floor and let her sleep there. My mom was horrified. She didn't want A to walk in the bathroom in the middle of the night to find her sister passed out from drinking too much. J is also hysterically crying about some boy who isn't worth a minute of her time. Why can't I forget him? she sobs. This is the second time this summer J has come home like this. Before that, there was the time over Christmas and the couple of times it happened during the previous summer. My mom is fed up. She's dealt with this all before. She's hurt and angry. But she's worried too. She's afraid J's going to be too far gone before she can help her.

J scares me too. She is on that self-destructive war path and she doesn't realize where it leads. If she's not careful, she's going to become me. That scares me more than anything else could.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Slice of Childhood

About a year ago, when I first started out on this journey, my therapist (whom I had just started seeing at the time) recommended several books to me. One of which was "Adult Children of Alcoholics" by Janet Geringer Woititz an author who I'm sure is familiar to anyone who has done even the slightest ounce of research on this subject. After reading this book, it all started to make sense. I didn't know how to act normal because nothing in my life was normal. This book was the first time I saw my childhood described so accurately.

I definitely remember being young. What I have to think a little harder about is how it felt to be young. The anxiety, the social awkwardness, fleeting bits of hope & worry. But the feeling that seems to stick out more than any other is loneliness. I had such extreme and intense feelings of always being alone. But I had always been a loner, sometimes by choice sometimes not. I was an only child for the first 5 years of my life and had an uncanny knack for keeping myself occupied. I have always loved to read so throughout my childhood and early adolescence I used books as an way to escape into other worlds through the words written before me. It was easier to belong in those books than belong in reality.

I had a hard time fitting in with reality. At school I was shy, painfully so. At the slightest inkling that someone was even thinking my name caused my face to turn a bright fiery red and I would break out into sweats. If I had to stand in the front of the class and give a presentation, forget about it. I felt ill. I had no confidence in myself and the insecurity I felt was almost unbearable. I would procrastinate and wait until the last possible second to stand up so I could stumble my way through my report. If I was lucky, there wouldn't be enough time in class that day and I would be saved by the bell, putting off my humiliation for one more day. The fear I had of being judged was excruciating. I was always the quiet one in school. I would NEVER raise my hand to volunteer an answer or even to ask a question. If I didn't get something, I would tell myself I would figure it out later on my own for fear I would be thought dumb and stupid for not understanding.

Finding friends was difficult. Finding friends I liked and who I thought might actually like me was a whole different matter entirely. Aside from being shy and insecure, but during my pre-teen years I was what they call geeky looking. I had big teeth, frizzy hair and glasses. My only saving grace was that I was an athlete. It didn't matter (at least during the game) that while playing basketball my mom made me wear an elastic band around my head to make sure my glasses wouldn't fly off. Playing sports was the only time I actually felt like I belonged. I could run fast; I was one of the fastest boys or girls in my neighborhood in elementary school. I was one of the best at jump rope, 4-square, I could play catch, and during gym I was usually the 2nd or 3rd girl to get picked for teams, after the popular girls of course.

But life on and off the court were very different. On the court I was one of them, part of the team and with whom I could celebrate after a win or bum out together after a loss. We had something in common then. Off the court, I was a freak. I didn't know how to fit in. I didn't know how to bond with these girls. How do you relate to someone when you're so petrified that anything you say could send them running for the hills, laughing and pointing at you all the way. In 5th grade, the girls in my class watched an instructional video on menstrual cycles. I was so desperate to fit in with my peers I made up the fact that I started my period just so to get attention. I still keep up that charade. I've never told anyone that. I didn't actually start my period until the end of my 8th grade year. But what was the problem with telling that one little lie?? Keeping secrets didn't bother me that much. And besides, I was good at it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My First Life

I've read lots of people's accounts of their own childhoods and what kinds of things happened with the alcoholics in their lives. I didn't come from your "typical" alcoholic family, if there is such a thing. There were no routine beatings, no hangovers (that I saw), no calling out sick for work, no worries that our dad would come home, pay-check squandered on last nights drinking binge, no worries that he wouldn't come home at all. Although I did wish for that last part.

Denial has played such a huge part in my life but it took me 18 years until I realized I was in it. I grew up with my mom, dad, and two younger sisters in a small town where everyone knew everyone else. Our parents were happily married, we lived in a decent neighborhood, we took family vacations every summer and things were good. On the surface. And even though I couldn't put a name on denial, unconsciously I knew there was something about us that My dad was weird. The way he acted, talked and moved; how he interacted with other people was just bizarre to me. He was embarrassing to be around. He made me and many of my friends uncomfortable, though they were too polite to ever tell me that. But I could tell when they declined my invites for dinners and sleepovers that they felt the same way I did and eventually I would stop asking. He would stare at me in a way that gave me the creeps. I felt him undressing me with his eyes. I felt sick and a knot the size of a softball slowly started forming in my stomach. I kept my feelings inside and the knot only grew bigger. I kept waiting for him to pounce, holding my breath whenever we were alone. I itched to get away at every possible second. That feeling lasted for most of the childhood that I can remember. I would run straight to my world of make believe (a.k.a. the back yard), pretending to run away and able to survive only on my 10 year-old intellect and the relief of having escaped completely unscathed, physically anyway. My relief would be short lived though and guilt would quickly take its place. If I ran away, who would watch out for my little sisters? This hypothetical question ate at me. They were so little. J was only 5 and A was just a baby. I had to stay to protect them.

But the need to escape never left me and it only became stronger as I grew older. The feeling grew so big that the summer after I graduated from high school my stuff for college had been packed weeks before I was actually scheduled to leave. I was more than ready to go. That twinge of guilt I felt about leaving the girls (now 12 and 8) was over shadowed by my own selfish need for distance. They would be fine I had to tell myself. Famous last words.

I have no idea what I thought I was running away from, or what it would change in my life. What I do know is the suffocation and oppression I felt living under that roof only intensified when I returned home the following summer. And that's when my second life began.....

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Where to Start?

I am starting this blog to write mostly about alcoholism and how it has affected my life and the life of my family. Not until the last couple of years did I become aware and begin to understand that the way I am and a lot of the things I do is a direct result of growing up with an alcoholic. Imagine my surprise when I searched for "adult children of alcoholics" on the internet and a list popped up of characteristics that I supposedly inhibit. Now try and imagine my shock after I read it and realized that list was written for me. Have you ever had an "oh shit" moment?? That was mine.

Since then, I've read a couple of books and done a bit more research. I feel as though I have only scratched the surface to the hordes of information that is out there. Hopefully, this blog will give me incentive to do more of that. I need to try and understand my father and how he lives and in turn, learn more about myself and why I've made the choices I have. I tried to find a forum where to discuss my issues with others in an atmosphere that I liked and felt comfortable with. Unable to do so, I've decided to create my own.

My life has been difficult, mostly of my own making. The challenges that I've faced from my father being an alcoholic are no where near the caliber of challenges I've created for myself. Dealing with my own deficiencies and shortcomings have been no easy feat. Up until now, I choose to live a life of failure. Sounds weird to say, but for the longest time, I felt that I did not deserve good things in my life. Happiness in any form was off limits to me. Where has that gotten me? Filled with bitterness, regret, and sadness.

But this isn't supposed to be a pity party. Far from it. Even if not one person besides myself will read this, I want to share my experiences, both good and bad. I am picking myself back up and rejoining the human race. Living life the way I think my God wants me to live it. Happy, without blame or fault. For the first time in a very long time, I am hopeful that I am capable of accomplishing something. What exactly that is, only time will tell.