Physical Loss is Not the Only Loss That Calls for Grieving

October 29, 2019

Merriam-Webster.com defines absence as a state or condition in which something expected, wanted or looked for is not present or does not exist. This is what my father was for a lot of my life, absent, at least mentally. 

Feb. 1,  2014 is a date I can never forget. I woke up as a little bright eyed 12-year-old girl that idolized her father and even though I did not realize it then, but my whole world would come slowly crashing down piece by piece.

This was the day I first ever found out my dad was using drugs. I remember my mom saying to me “your dad is sick, but we are gonna get him help to get better” and that was something I really did believe could happen. My father was everything to me when I was little, he was my hero and he could do no wrong in my eyes, very soon that fantasy would fade.

After overcoming his addiction for the first time, or what we thought had happened, months later I would witness my dad have his first relapse. Recovery had already been hard enough, the agonizing screams and cries amid the world still moving on, me continuing to do my school work and watching TV with my mom. 

Relapse was an entire different set of obstacles, the constant need for pills was the only thing he had on his mind at all times. Slowly time after time again my mom would help him get clean, only for weeks later to find out he was using again. 

At one point my mother even made my dad quit his job. My father went from being the main supporter of our family to a stay-at-home father, even though I was the one taking care of my sister, cleaning and making sure everything that needed was done. My mom got a job and from that day forward he never held a steady job. He very quickly  lost all sense of time, memory and faded from the man that was my dad. I lost that man in the blink of an eye to something we tried so hard to help him overcome. 

The thing about fighting addiction though is that you have to want that for yourself, and obviously one tiny white pill was worth losing his family over.

My parents later got divorced and he moved out, my mom tried so hard for three years spending money on rehabilitation and detoxification but her efforts fell short in an attempt to find the man she had fallen in love with all those years ago. Even after moving out and losing it all he still continued to use drugs.

Through all this, my emotions were all over the place. I was not able to show my emotions while growing up. Today I am the exact opposite. The first few times he relapsed I was mainly confused about why he could not stop. Then it eventually became routine and something I expected to happen every few months. Later this turned into anger, anger for my sister and mother because he had hurt them both so much. Sadness was something that took me a long time to overcome, the overwhelming pain of losing my perfect little family and watching my father’s mind everlastingly decay.

I know my father is still alive today but I lost the man I called my dad, the man that gave me piggyback rides through Wal-Mart when my little four-year-old legs just couldn’t walk anymore. I lost the thing my whole world had once revolved around. Even though I did not lose my father in the sense that he had died, I lost him to something that consumed his life more than death ever could have, addiction.

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