A Gift From My Dad

A box arrived today containing gifts and a card from my father.  I haven’t spoken to him in a year and a half after he showed up slurring and stumbling at my house on Easter.  I’ve been holding off on contacting him until I get to my 9th step, but felt like I wanted acknowledge that I got the gift.  I don’t know why I couldn’t leave it at a simple thank you note.  I had to make it bigger, right?  I regret this letter.  Maybe one day I will learn.

Hi Dad,

I wanted to write and let you know that we received the package you sent today.  Thank you so much for thinking of us, and I love the picture as a reminder of how beautiful Park City is in the fall.  I will try and send a picture of the kids with the stuffed animals if you’d like that.  My first instinct was to just pick up the phone and call, but I reflected and decided to write instead.
The most major thing that I want to tell you is that I just celebrated 9 months of sobriety.  I stopped drinking on February 10th and have been attending AA since then.  From the very beginning, I threw myself into AA, getting a sponsor, working the steps because I believed from my experience with you and [my brother] that if I wanted to be sober, AA was the answer.  Since doing this, my life has really changed.  I guess maybe it doesn’t look much different on the outside, but I FEEL like a very different person.  You mentioned you saw my Crossfit pictures on Facebook, so I guess maybe it does look different!!!

I do think about you quite often.  I’ve been wondering how I would begin communicating with you and what I should or shouldn’t say.  I want to tell you that I’m not angry with you and that I love you.  Up until this point, I have been unsure how to proceed because I do not know how to have a relationship with you without expecting and needing things.  I see where these expectations about how I think things “should” be or what I deserve have lead me to be hurt.  I want to be mindful moving forward that I do not get to call the shots when it comes to you or anything else in my life.  I really have made the choice to turn my will and my life over to God.  No one is more shocked by this revelation than myself, but I see how this approach to life brings the greatest amount of joy and serenity.

So today for me, this is a very delicate balance.  Right now I try to prioritize my life as spirituality first, sobriety second, my health 3rd, my children and then my marriage.  These are the things I will protect and defend before I try and do anything else.  I don’t know what your hopes are, but my goal for our relationship going forward is to let go of the past and any expectations about how it “should be” in the future.  I know previously I’ve taken your alcoholism personally, so the knowledge I’ve gotten in recovery should help me with that.  I want to get to the place where I can be kind and tolerant no matter what you choose to do!  That is difficult because my deepest hope is that you are sober and at peace because that would make things easier for me.  And hey, it’s all about me, right?

I have been a terrible communicator up until this point, but the principles of AA are showing me how to stand in my truth.  Whether or not you are drinking today, I know you have had a lot of AA in your lifetime.  Maybe sharing the common language of recovery will help us communicate better moving forward.  There are so many things that you and I have in common that I miss being able to talk to you about.  It kind of sucks to add alcoholism to that list, but it is what it is and what matters is what I’m doing today.  Today I’m doing chores, writing you, picking up Max from school, going to Crossfit, meditating, cooking dinner and not drinking.  One foot in front of the other.  I hope all is well in Park City.

The response:

I totally understand, I really appreciate the letter.  If you can I would love some pictures.  I think we both need some time.  I’m just happy you guys are healthy and doing well.

I already failed at no expectations.  In retrospect, my thinking was that things were going to be different because I’m different.  Sigh.  He doesn’t want to work on this now.  Maybe not ever.  I felt like I was being honest without being hurtful, but I think I have to stop trying to be anything.  It’s so hard.  I decided to post this here because I’m simply unable to let go of not being validated in some way on this.  I want someone to tell me that it’s not because I did or said the wrong thing.  Or maybe I did.  Maybe you can tell me where I went awry.  I let this get away from me.
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4 thoughts on “A Gift From My Dad

  1. I think your letter was beautiful and you did NOTHING wrong in writing it. My take on it is that he was impressed by how well you expressed yourself and your feelings. How could he not be?

    I don’t know him, but I’m wondering, does he like to call the shots? Be in charge? He immediately turned it around and set his own timing and limits, just more control stuff. He probably just couldn’t help himself.

    I’m sure you are familiar with this one:

    “But it is from our twisted relations with family, friends, and society at large that many of us have suffered the most. We have been especially stupid and stubborn about them. The primary fact that we fail to recognize is our total inability to form a true partnership with another human being. Our egomania digs two disastrous pitfalls. Either we insist upon dominating the people we know, or we depend upon them far too much.” p.44, 12&12

    You’ve made a good first step. He may be too sick right now to reciprocate but the good news is that he has an AA background and a desire to connect with you!

    Thanks for sharing the letter. I think it was great.

    XO

    • Oh my gosh, thank you so much for this comment. Really shed some light on the control issue, and I know he has a lot of fear that drives that. I posted a follow up and today pray that I can also let go of my desire to control. God’s will, not mine.

  2. Great job being vulnerable. That’s so hard. I wouldn’t kick yourself for a second. You came from a place of love and honesty and are willing to be open to moving forward. And yes, not having expectations would be great, but that’s a spiritual ideal, not a reality. We take baby steps up that mountain, we don’t just magically go from point A to Z. Recovery is slooooow. I love you. Xoxo

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