STILL LEARNING

I think at a certain point in your life you come to realize that the things you always thought were true were really just your perception of the truth. You realize that those you once put on a pedestal are actually humans who have made big mistakes and wrong decisions just like you.

As my father grows older this has become increasingly clear. I’m not ignorant about my dad. I know he’s an alcoholic. He stopped drinking when I was about 10 or so. My memory isn’t very clear. I do remember him losing his car somewhere and standing in the doorway looking like death. I also remember him slapping my mom one night. It was the first and last time that ever happened. My mother drank with him and stopped when he stopped. She had given him an ultimatum. He either quit drinking or he wouldn’t have a family. He quit that day and never even had a sip of alcohol since.

Unfortunately my dad never talked to anyone about why he drank. He never understood why he drank. I never thought about it because I was busy drinking myself.

My dad has extreme anxiety and social phobia. He has an extremely hard time in crowded places. When people first meet him they think he’s mean or uneducated. People who really know him know that he’s quite the opposite. He has a crazy way with children. They are drawn to him for some reason. He’s so good with them it breaks my heart that he doesn’t see his grandchildren because he has survivor’s guilt.

My father and I are a lot alike. We both suffer from extreme anxiety, social phobia, self-medicating with alcohol, isolating ourselves, and lashing out at those closest to us.

I attended a wedding in Naples, Florida when I was 18. A man was there who knew my father when they were young. He said to me “I really thought your father would’ve pursued his art he’s got so much talent. Hell he could’ve even made a ton of money doing tattoos if he wanted.” I didn’t know what the hell the guy was talking about. When we returned home I asked my dad about it. He called the guy a few colorful names and then said that he did sketch and paint. He then showed me some of his work. Some of his work is missing which makes me mad but I can’t do anything about it. The Jungle Cat he did for me after I asked him about his painting.

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