It’s a new year and once again, it seems that everyone is making resolutions. But a few days ago, I started what will become a lifelong resolution. It’s one that I know I will constantly struggle with but in the end, I will do my best to keep at it because I know that it is what’s best for me. I am going to let go.
What does that mean? Well, let me explain. I am going to share something that I have often tried to hide, that I have often tried to ignore, and just sweep under the rug. My father is an alcoholic. He’s not physically abusive, he isn’t a falling down drunk. In fact, he is a functional alcoholic. In a way, that is almost part of the problem. He figures that his behaviour isn’t extreme enough to warrant being called an alcoholic. Heck, he doesn’t even want to say that he has a drinking problem. Never mind that he feels he “needs” a drink. Never mind that since I have been home for the holidays, he has literally staggered off to bed by 7pm every night. He sits at the dinner table, slurring his speech and is barely able to hold his head up, but he will insist that he doesn’t have a problem.
I tried my best to ignore this behaviour but of course it was impossible. It wasn’t just the forgetfulness or his inability to form a coherent sentence. It was also the fact that my father becomes an absolutely miserable person when he drinks. There is no pleasing him. Once again, it all culminated in an argument between the two of us the day after Christmas. I wanted an apology for his behaviour. He insisted on seeing himself as the victim.
But as I stood there crying (and crying and crying) I finally had a realization. It isn’t worth it. I have tried my best to help my dad change but I finally realized that it’s not my responsibility. What I do or don’t do has no impact on his behaviour. So I need to stop pointing out when he has forgotten the conversation we had the day before. Or when he slurs his words. Or when he simply can’t understand a concept because he has destroyed his mental functioning with years of hard drinking. I finally accepted that what I have been doing is akin to banging my head against a brick wall and expecting a change.
I know that this new path won’t be easy. After all, I have an almost hyper-sensitive awareness of other people’s behaviours and actions. But I know now that I need to do this for my own sake, my own health and my own sanity. And I am determined to finally stop fighting and do what’s best for me.