Like father, unlike daughter

Alcoholic father leaves fractured legacy

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When Julie* was seven, her father picked her up after school. He watched as his favorite little girl came to greet him in the carpool lane at a local elementary school.
As he greeted his daughter, the stench of alcohol left his lips, tainting every word he spoke.
Julie’s awareness of her father’s alcoholism became clearer day by day as she aged.
Like any other girl, she loved her father blindly and hopelessly. Her forced admirations toward him eventually morphed into something worse: the truth.
“I didn’t notice that he was an alcoholic until I had gotten a lot older,” Julie said. “I started seeing it as a sickness, rather than a choice that he made.”
Julie’s mother spent the majority of her and her husband’s relationship supporting him through his troubled life and the continued denial of his alcoholism.
“Love is blind…she was just like, ‘I can save him, I can save him’,” Julie said.
Despite her efforts, Julie’s father held everyone else accountable for his actions.
“My mom tried to get him counselling and he would just say that the counselors didn’t know what they were talking about and that it was my mom’s fault,” Julie said. “We did everything we could, but at the end of the day, the person has to want help, and he didn’t, and he still doesn’t.”
To this day, 17 years later, Julie has not once been around her father sober.
“I know for a fact that Sunday nights are not the nights to go over because he’s been drinking since he’s gotten off work on Friday afternoon,” she said.
His behavior remains engraved in her and her mother’s memories.
“I remember one specific time my dad was drunk texting my mom. He told her she was ugly and she had wrinkles, insulting her in any way that he could,” Julie said.

Later that night, Julie heard the clicks of a camera go off in the next room. Slowly cracking the door open, she could see her mother sobbing as she photographed herself numerous times, checking for any sign of creases or imperfections in her skin.
Soon enough, her father’s alcoholism got to the point where Julie feared for her own safety.
Many times, he would show up at the house unexpectedly in a drunken state, throwing verbal punches at everyone.
Ultimately, Julie would like to have a close relationship with her father. She said, however, a part of her would feel wrong rebuilding a potential relationship after all that he has done.
“Even though he is my own father–he’s my blood and I’m supposed to love him through the good, the bad, the ugly–I can’t. At the end of the day he wrecks my peace,” she said.
Today, the aftereffects of her father’s actions remain constant in Julie’s decision making.
“It’s changed my perspective on the type of guys I go for. I go for drug addicts. I go for people that are broken,” Julie said. “I find no interest in having a relationship with somebody that doesn’t have a traumatic past, that can’t tell me stories, and that can’t relate to me on that level.”
Julie’s journey has made her stronger and independent.
“People would try to sympathize with me, but I don’t want anybody’s sympathy,” Julie said. “I’m going to be fine when I’m an adult. I already know how to do it. I’ve been doing it.”
Despite dabbling in typical teenage experiences, she is not concerned about the possibility of becoming like her father in the future.
“I’m a victim to curiosity, but as much as any other teenager would be,” Julie said. “The point is learning how to do things–the stupid things–in moderation. As far as being addicted to something, I don’t like being controlled. I’m the control freak in my life.”
*Names changed to preserve privacy

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