My Dad’s an Addict: What is He Thinking?
Addiction, Family, and Parenting
Spoiler alert: They don’t mix well. At all, to be honest.
Sometimes when I’m under the influence of something or other, I’ll have imaginary conversations with loved ones.
A recent one was working out how to have the “talk” with my little girl (6 years old, yes I know it’s a long way off yet) about drugs and drinking and the dangers of nightlife for young girls.
I’d like to think, with my extensive personal experience in the field, I would be able to spot any warning signs of Poppy beginning her first glimpse down the road that leads to insanity and heartbreak and unfortunately from her mother’s experience by proxy, she should be able to do the same.
I suppose the difference between my own approach and my ex would be my empathising angle. I’ve already told her empty chair about why I know so much about this and how it very nearly destroyed my life and actually nearly took it away from me completely on a few occasions (been very lucky there: 4 resuscitations on my medical record, a few by rare but clued up fellow partakers and countless ones where I’ve just regained consciousness with a needle hanging out of my arm and knowing exactly what has just happened.
Child Protection, a Real Thing
In fact, on one of these occasions after I had already left the family nest, I awoke in a hospital to a barrage of questions. Being a bit out of it, my mind was an open book and when asked if I had any children I said, “Yes,” but that she doesn’t live with me. The inquisitor was someone from social services and informed me that the child would need to be checked on. Despite me repeatedly telling her that I have minimum and supervised contact with my daughter, she none the less contacted Poppy’s mother.
I’m sure you can imagine the ear ache sustained on that particular phone call. My right ear drum still does the odd snare roll sometimes and usually when I’m supposed to be listening to and taking in something important
Anyway, back to the imaginary passing on of my wisdom to my invisible little one.
I can explain to her the reason(s) we don’t all live together as a family being my behaviour driving (Claire) to have to shield our young offspring from what was at the time, a very unstable father (completely nonviolent, you understand) and to distance themselves from me. I took this hard, being an overgrown child myself but looking back on it all I would’ve done the same if the roles were reversed. I can’t stress enough how thankful I am that Poppy’s mother is who she is: a fucking super hero.
Addiction Can Totally Alter Your Personality
I can explain how addiction can totally alter your personality and have you do things you never thought you would be capable of, let alone even think about. The stealing, the lying straight to the face of people you love. Constant deceit and the whole new skill set just gets worse and worse ( or more refined, I suppose) as your addiction increases it’s, at first warm handed hold and then icy grip on your entirety: Brain, mind, body and soul.
I’ll explain to her in detail some of the things I’ve done to my whole family. These things were not in a malicious way of course, but the fact is that when you’re deep in you don’t seem to be in control. I sometimes feel like my brain is actually trying to kill me. I know it lies to me a lot and that in turn has me manipulating people and my environment to satisfy the diseased bastard that lives in my head (I’ll just put my foil hat on for a sec so it can’t hear me and want to punish me later).
What Drugs to Stay Away From
I can tell her about some of the new drugs that come out of foreign countries sold as one thing and being, at worst something totally different to what you were expecting or just plain badly made. By the time she’s at the age for said “talk” the market will probably be flooded with even more of these “lottery chemicals”.
What I don’t want to do is say “drugs are bad, stay away from them” without giving her in depth explanations of why. When I was a teenager that was the tactic. They even had a policeman come into our science class once with a big tray of confiscated narcotics and it just looked like a toy box to me, only sparking my interest further. Tell kids they’re not allowed something and what effect do you usually get? Forbidden fruit. The most desirable that there is.
If I can get through to her all the negative effects that drugs and excessive alcohol use has had on my life, and those around me, I’m hoping the bright young thing can take in the message.
I’ll Be Here for Her 100%
I’ll tell her if she ever gets in trouble to come and see me and I’ll support her in any way possible but that it will break my heart and her mother’s will just cease beating all together.
Again, I know it’s a long way off but like I said: sometimes I practice to an empty room, until the stimulant wears off any way.
The Guilt Weighs on Me
God, I’ve done some awful things and guilt, whilst being a useless emotion, has been a passenger on my back for a lot of years now. The guilt can sometimes force me back to the things that caused all the guilt in the first place. But we reap what we sow and the grown up thing for me would be to stop looking backwards and start the baby steps forward into my new life. Get some self-respect back. Get a job. I’ve recently started to give up on the idea that I’ll be a famous writer or a festival crowd pulling electronic music genius (I am the genius bit, just lazy and low self-esteem gets in the way) and try and be a bit more humble and responsible.
But I Want to Be a Better Man
If I can get some good clean time under my belt and start engaging with the opportunities that I’ve either started and just not followed through on or worse, knowingly ignored and just let slip by, I can get my first job in 6 years. That would mean being able to look myself in the eye every morning and just feel humbly content, knowing that I can now help support my daughter and her mum financially and, if they’ll accept it, emotionally . After a (long) proven track record of this then maybe I can regain a semblance of the life I miss so much.