"I’m sorry, but life is a bowl of shit at the moment." - Dad
I don’t exactly know how to feel about him anymore. It’s dark. It’s really dark. I see him, so shell shocked and depressed and can’t help but feel mixed. He feels so miserable and locks himself within his own cage of guilt over “fucking up” my childhood that he doesn’t even see that it wasn’t his drinking or drug use that had an impact, but his absence. Sure, we were never the nuclear leave it to beaver family that he wanted us to be, but I’ve never known that life so I have no regrets about not living it. We were just some family, made up of people who were broken for different reasons, coexisting and symbiotic rather than familiar and codependent, not a hell hole that he has trapped in his mind.
When we were young he used to tell us stories about his childhood, how he and his friends used to get into shenanigans with farmers and shoot Tommy guns in his gunsmith neighbors basement into a shell trap. He used to tell me about how great his tennis career was, and how he went All American and was sponsored by Slazenger and Wilson, how everything was great. Now all he talks about is how he’s down and he is desperately grabbing for something to help him get on his feet but can’t find anything. They say as you get older, the future gets darker and darker, and even the dim parts of the past get so much brighter; he embodies that.
The thing that catches me so much about him is that he’s the only one of us that’s actually awake. Someone so jaded and depressed yet he sees things for what they are, rather than what he wants them to be. We’ve all been pretending to be happy of late, meanwhile my mother is dying of emphysema, my sister is drowning herself with drinking and smoking to hide how she knows she has no future, and I work and work and work for no pay in the hope that the experience will help me at least survive somewhere in the future. We’re pretending to be strong, and upper middle class in a house we can’t afford with a lifestyle we know we aren’t, but we are so damn close to cracking and falling further down than we were before I can taste it. He’s just living that rather than hiding from it. I love you Dad.