Friday, February 17, 2012

Well, that was fun

So yesterday, my dad called the cops on my sister, her husband, my mother & I.

He called the cops, and told them we were "verbally assaulting him in his own home."

By which he meant, we were telling the fucking truth, in our own homes.

The cop pretty much shrugged his shoulders when he got there - we had done nothing actionable, and it was, in fact his behavior that was out of bounds: I know I never uttered a single curse, and neither did my sister.  My mom did, but that was just repeating what he'd said about her, so that doesn't really count.  And my brother in law, who is the (I can't emphasize this enough, honestly) most peaceful person ever (like, I've seen him mad may three times in the past 5 years, and even when he's mad, he's still pretty calm) had to go outside and stand in the cold to keep himself from ... I don't even know what.

I know what I wanted to do, which was rage and vomit and punch his face in and break the goddamn wine bottle into a million tiny little pieces and cry and curl up into a ball and pack all my shit immediately and move into the cardboard box that is my only other option and scream in his face and drag him to a psychiatrist and tie him into a chair & force him to watch every episode of Intervention ever.  (For the record, I did at least two of those things, but they weren't the fun ones.)

The cops told us "families fight" and told him "if you're an asshole when you drink" (Oh crap, I guess I did curse: I specifically told the cops that he was an asshole when he drinks, but it still doesn't count because I didn't curse at him), "then don't do that anymore."  He did not get the outcome he wanted, (which was them making us leave, I guess), and then kept saying how embarrassing it was that it had happened.

 It didn't just happen: You called the cops because we weren't backing down (again) about your ridiculous, abusive behavior.  You were the one who reacted like an ass because someone dared to question you about your drinking.  You were the one who went on the attack.  I wasn't embarrassed at all, to be honest.  A little let down that I couldn't say "Listen, if he opens his mouth again, I'm going to do something that is worth going to jail for" or "Honestly?  He told my mother to go fuck herself, my sister that she was a pill popping control freak, and me that I was a useless piece of shit: please, just take him with you."

I know I've talked about his drinking here before - about my issues with being lucky enough to be blessed with three alcoholic parents, in particular, so if you've been around, you know it's a problem.*  I probably don't talk about it as much as I should, because - no matter that I have no fault in it, and there's nothing I can do to stop it - it feels shameful, it feels like I should keep it quiet.  And, to be honest, it's a little embarrassing because I can't just move out and put myself in a better environment: I am dependent upon my family, financially. 

I also try not to say things that hurt people's feelings here, even though they don't read it. (And hopefully never will.)  But the truth is the truth, and I'm sick of pretending that this is not a life or death, you are ruining our family type of deal.

The fight last night was vicious.  He has this ability to take out the sharpest arrow in his arsenal, hone it to its finest point, and hit your most vulnerable spot dead center.  Tell my mom she's a drunk (although saying "you're a worse alcoholic than I am" probably doesn't make the point you were hoping for);  tell my sister that she "moved in and took over", because you know she's overly sensitive about having to live at home; tell me that I "contribute nothing but a bunch of dirty dishes", because you know it wounds me that I can't do things around the house to help out.  Make sure you dip all those arrows in as much vile poison as they can hold, before you send them.  That's his way.

And then, THEN, he rants and raves about how he has no place in this family, how he wants to be left the fuck alone, how there are no relationships left for him with us, and how that's all our fault.

It probably is my fault that I don't want to give you more ammunition to use against me.  Probably is my fault that I can't feel safe enough in my own home to come out to the kitchen if I know you're out there drinking.  Definitely is my fault that I've been locking myself in my room at night, because I don't want to be around you, because I know if I go out there I'm not going to be able to hold my tongue, and you're not going to be able to hold your temper, and we wind up right back where we are now: You got to yell and scream and curse and stab at people with your insults, and the rest of us get to wander around dazed and betrayed, stunned that we let ourselves get hurt again.  Yeah: that all seems like my fault.

It's definitely my mom's fault if she's "a cold, unfeeling bitch", because everybody wants to be close to someone who makes them feel like shit.  It's my sister's fault that she's not willing to "forget about what happened before", even though it was traumatizing to everyone (including you), and you made promises that you never kept.  It's definitely my brother-in-law's fault that he had to start shoving all his belongings in an empty laundry basket because god forbid someone should treat him or his wife with love, courtesy or respect, even though they do so much for you.

The thing is, I know, in his mind, that he's the victim in all this.   I know that because he stated it very clearly, over and over and over again last night: he was not going to be fucking apologizing for anything he said, if anything he was owed the apology from us.  Because we started it, we attacked him, and all he was doing was "cooking, drinking and minding his own fucking business."  Never mind that that business included doing the thing you promised us you wouldn't do: we don't have the "right" to hold you accountable for that.  Never mind that once someone did call you on your bullshit you started yelling, calling people names, threatening them, using your place as "the moneymaker" to try to bully us into shutting up, trying to throw us out of the house.   That's all acceptable behavior, right?

He didn't go to work today (he "didn't sleep well"), and now he's wandering around upstairs pouting, probably/I'm 99.99% sure.  That's too damn bad: I don't have any answers for you - you want a place in this family you better figure out a way to fix things, because I am D O N E trying to figure it out for you.  Yeah: I love you.  Yeah: I'll miss you if you have to go.  But you can't stay like this.  Or I can't... One of us is going to have to make some real fucking changes.  And, as far as I can tell, only one of us has done anything wrong.

And it sure as hell isn't me.

Sticking up for myself, my sister, my mother and my family?  Not wrong.
Calling your behavior abusive when it is?  Not wrong. (And not "verbal assault" either, asshole.)
Dumping your precious wine down the sink?  Probably a little bit wrong, but only because I lost my cool there: should've stayed calmer.  The dumping part I'm ok with, because Fuck That Shit.
Ignoring you now, even though I know you're just waiting for me to say something, anything, so you can either walk right in or stomp all over me again?  Not wrong.

Let me make this 300000% clear - to myself, and to the sister who needs to hear it, and just happens to read my blog - WE DID NOTHING WRONG.  It is not ok to say the things he said, no matter if we started the argument - we didn't say anything out of bounds to him, but he certainly did to us.  His bullying is NOT OUR FAULT.  THE END.

Of course, it feels like it could be our fault.  Her fault for saying something in the first place, she says; my fault for not just walking away and letting it drop, I think.  But that's just some textbook Over Developed Sense of Responsibility right there.  Over time, everything feels like our fault - when people are happy, when they're not, how they act because of their mood - all of that is not in our control, but it feels like it should be.

Example: Last night's big blow out (which follows our last really big blow out by only 6 months, with about 3 less major ones in between) came immediately following his vacation, last week.  That's 9 days of holding your breath, tiptoeing around, hiding yourself in your room (or at work, or in the cellar, or at someone else's house: Hell I even stayed later at the HOSPITAL so I wouldn't have to come home) so that you don't accidentally say something to set him off.  He, of course, doesn't see it like that, but the rest of us do.  If I'm going to keep a fight from happening I either have to a)pretend that I'm fine with the drinking and drunk him and all that comes along with that (overly affectionate fakeness, pushing food on you repeatedly, an inability to take no for an answer about anything) or b) not be in the same room with him.  I chose, for as much as I was able, option b.  For nine days.  My sister and her husband ate with him more, choosing lite option A and a huge dose of option B (cellar time ALL NIGHT LONG).  And my mom, well she usually can't get away with B, and even though she doesn't do a good job of pretending (i.e: we can all tell she's pissed off at him), he doesn't really notice, so that's the way our week went.

It was only after all that shit that my sister came home from work yesterday and called him on his drinking (A bit of an explanation first: following last ginormous traumatizing fight, he swore off drinking.  That lasted a week.  Since then he has told us that he won't drink at all.  Then he changed it to "I won't drink when I'm cooking" Then it was "I won't have more than 1 glass/2 glasses/3 glasses a night"  Last night he was at 2.5 glasses when she walked in).  And then spent the rest of the night crying, saying she shouldn't have started anything.

She didn't start it, and I want her to get that.  (Hi.  I know you get it, but you don't feel it.  That's ok, too, but just so you know: I know this wasn't your fault.)  He can lay the blame at our feet - hers for daring to say something, mine for not shutting my mouth when he wanted me to, my mom's for not sticking up for him "while I was being assaulted" - but we all know the truth about where it goes.  This is his fault, and that's all there is too it.

Another sister and I were talking recently, about babies. About how much we want them and don't have them, and are scared it may never happen for us.  (Which, let's not talk about that right now) And she said something about never letting her kids sleep over, out of fear of what his moods would be like, and it sort of killed me (because I love my niece and nephews so much and would hate not to be able to spend time with any of them), and at the same time I understood perfectly.  I want a baby more than anything, but I would never bring it into this house the way it is right now.  Never.

So don't give me all this shit about how you just can just "cook, and drink, and mind my own fucking business",  because it is my business.  Because I love you, and because I love them, and because, god damn it I'm trying really fucking hard to love myself.  And I can't love a person who lets other people walk all over them - or her family.  So, I know you're going to do as you please (who knows it better than me**), but it's not going to be crushing me anymore.  It's not going to be hurling abuse at the people I love anymore.  And if that means that I've lost two fathers to alcohol, I'm going to say that that really sucks.  And I'm going to be horribly sad.  But I'm not going to lose myself just so you can be a happy drunk.


*And I'd just like to say that my Mom, whose own issues with alcohol have been pretty intense and troubling, has been sober for almost four months now, and I couldn't be prouder of her.  Yes, it was a decision she made based on medical necessity, but I think every addict's decision to get sober is medically necessary, and she's working really hard on it, which is amazing. 

**My biological father slipped into his alcoholism sometime before I 9, and our relationship was rocky from that point on.  Eventually, 11 years ago this July, it took his life.

1 comment:

The Goldfish said...

NTE, I'm so sorry this happened. I wish I could give you a hug right now.

I have not had to live with addiction, but I know how it is to live with someone whose sudden and destructive rages can spring up at any time, someone you care for but feel the need to protect others from. That's extremely tough.

But you're right about what can and cannot be tolerated, and you're right that you owe it to both yourself and those who love you not be walked over.

I really hope that your Dad figures this out for himself. Unfortunately, it sounds like he needs some kind of shock or scare or something to wake him up. And whatever form that takes isn't going to be easy on the rest of you.

Thinking of you.