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Family Complications

November 28, 2012
Sitting on the couch in the Colorado Hall lounge, I breathe deeply as my boyfriend Andrew is ranting to me on the phone. His dad had come home stumbling drunk and thrown the family cat, Blitz across the room. Andrew and his dad have never seen eye to eye. All his life, his dad never being home and the tension when he was around, the anger within Andrew just kept building. He kept it buried, but the fact that his dad had an affair and thought that drinking and coming home drunk was the best solution. However, his dads actions only started to set off the feelings Andrew had kept so hidden. The exasperation towards his dad that had been building for so many years finally ruptured as he vented to me on the phone. With his dad’s job in the military, it requires him to travel to different military bases. Being in the military demands him to leave home for periods of time, making the strain of the relationship a dilemma with no easy fix. It makes me wonder if their relationship will ever be on good terms and the concern if hearing about their relationship will impact my relationship with my own dad.

“Alright Andrew, what’s going on?”
“My dad came home drunk. This is my dad’s way of reacting to the fact he messed up having that stupid affair. I got home from class and the first thing my mum told me was that my dad came home drunk and threw our cat across the room. I don’t know why my dad threw Blitz, I guess she was the first thing in the apartment that he saw when he came in. He didn’t have any control, so his actions were out of control. My dad is an asshole. I hate him.”
“I know, my dad’s done some bad things too…”
“No, no you don’t know.”
“I know this is hard, but it will pass.”
“No, you don’t know what I’m going through.”
Alright. Time to stop talking.
His voice began to shake.
“I want to beat my dad with a baseball bat. My dad is a f***ing a**h***. A bastard. I wish he would leave. I want him to leave and I don’t care if he ever comes back. He can go f*** himself. I wish he wasn’t my dad. What he did was stupid. I don't feel safe at home."
Finally exhausted, the rant was over.
"I’ve tired myself out. I think I'm going to bed," he told me. 'If I had any emotion left in me, I'd cry."
In his voice, I could tell that he was on the brink of crying.
Silence.
“Love you,” he said.
Silence. “Okay, bye,” I said quickly and ended the call.
Knowing I’d been holding it in, I ran back to my room and cried into my pillow for ten minutes.

That was the first time I had ever heard him talk like that. The fact he was so scared and upset only made me fret about him more. I knew Andrew appreciated my listening and was glad he was able to unload his stress. But the night felt like forever and a day for me after our conversation was over. Fearing for him and with the fact that he lives 2000 miles across the country, I knew there was nothing I could do. As much as I wanted to jump on a plane and fly out to see him, I knew I couldn’t. All I wanted was to be out there with him. But there was nothing more I could do. Many things were running through my head and my biggest worry was only hoping that his dad wouldn’t physically harm Andrew or his mom and pray nothing worse would happen before we talked again. As the evening came to a close and I fell asleep, my mind flashbacked to the night when Andrew first told me of his dad’s slip of the tongue.

September 26, 2012
(on the phone)
“Hey.”
“”Hi.”
“How are you?”
“I’m alright. How are you?”
“I’m okay. Anything interesting happen today?”
“Well, I forced my dad to tell me that he had an affair.”
“So that’s why he was in Thailand?”
“Apparently.”
“How did you react?”
“I couldn’t. We were in a restaurant.”

That was all he told me that night. No emotion, and no elaboration on how he really felt. I guess I was more surprised that we were able to talk about other things that night. The one question in my head was, “Why?” Why had his dad done such a foolish thing? I guess I was utterly surprised that he didn’t want to talk about it. How could he just let something like this just pass and move on? I really wanted him to talk about it because to me that felt like a slap in the face. I had a million bad words roaming through my mind that I wanted to shout out. But instead, I kept it to myself. I always have. I figured because he had only just found out that night that he was still trying to process the news.That isn’t something you hear everyday. I could only imagine how his mom had reacted to the news. How tense it was to have his dad around for however long until he was called to another military base. Of course I knew this was not an easy thing to hear or to explain. When Andrew heard his dad was in Thailand, he told me he was very surprised because he knew his dad wasn’t supposed to be there. At the time, before his dad came back, Andrew was very interested in the reasoning behind his dad’s trip to Thailand. A few months later, however, he was anything but interested by his dad’s explanation. Baffled probably. Irritated. Angry. Annoyed. But Andrew seemed to be holding back the night he found out. He seemed to be holding back until something inside him finally snapped.

Andrew is consistently a logical person, and continually has been able to keep calm through anything. Nothing ever seems to bother him, even if someone ticks him off, he rants about it for a bit and then never brings it up again. I guess that is how his brain works. I have never heard or seen him cry. At least for the first two years of our relationship, he never hinted at having an emotional side. He also never mentioned that he has a very strained relationship with his dad. He mentioned his dad to me a lot-mostly everything I shouldn’t do around him. When I first met his dad, Andrew gave me the impression that he and his dad have such a great relationship. They got along so well; laughing, joking and talking about everything. It reminded me so much of my brother and dad’s relationship which made me so happy. That seems so rare, but when families have that bond, it seems so special. Then three months later, I learned that it was all an act and the reality of the situation. Which must be why I’m still picking at my brain about why he never told me the truth about his dad in the first place, and what makes Andrew’s relationship with his dad so complicated.

In my experience, I’ve grown up in a family where my brother and my dad have a lot in common. Same interests in sports, music, and outdoor activities.My family would do things together, like hiking in the summer and both my dad and brother would catch a giant fish, giving them something to talk about when they got home. In the winter, they would ski on a major powder day and talk excitedly about the amazing day they had. Though they do have their fights every now and again, disagreeing on different decisions, their relationship is mostly good. No family relationship is perfect, not even mine. All my life, living under the same roof, they could sit on the couch and talk for hours. Home every night, seeing each other everyday is the luxury every family could dream of. Not every family is that lucky.

With Andrew and his family, the lengths of time that his dad is home and off working is unpredictable. Then with his mom working 12 hour days, Andrew is left spending tons of time home alone.When his mom is home, she is mostly tired and goes right to bed. In the off chance that his dad is home, Andrew tries to spend time with him. When he messes up and causes a racket, Andrew’s anger becomes an earthquake which seems to tear his family apart. Though it eventually seems to pass, the tension in the air seems to linger. Since his dad’s affair and consistent drinking, discussing his dad has been like a lion attacking its prey. Andrew tries to avoid the subject at all costs.

As Andrew has explained to me, this has been something he’s had to deal with all his life. His dad is an alcoholic and doesn’t seem to see how his alcoholism is really affecting his family, especially his relationship with Andrew. Andrew has told me his dad doesn’t seem to believe he has a problem. I would beg to differ. I’m sure Andrew would too. Andrew has told me stories about how his dad has hit him with a newspaper, though he never specified if his dad was drunk at the time or not. Alcoholism is an addiction that can be cured if the effort is put in to change their ways. However, if Andrew’s dad never believes he has a problem, the hole of the straining relationship between father and son will only deepen. And, if never confronted, the damage already done may never be able to be repaired.

Alcoholism is something that can’t always be controlled. Though it isn’t something that happens every night and only when his dad really screws up, but not 24/7. This experience seemed to be the first time Andrew’s dad’s alcoholism really got out of control and caused a scene. Which seemed to explain why Andrew responded so emotionally. It was a big bombshell, and completely unexpected. I know I wouldn’t be able to stay calm having a conversation with one of my parents like Andrew did. Andrew’s reaction seemed to be very understandable. Probably not the most rational way to react, but this is not a matter to take lightly. Situations like this, although I have never experienced this, can often tear families apart.

I think about his relationship with his dad, I know it will never be perfect. I know that deep down Andrew loves his dad, even if he won’t admit it. The tension may still be there, but he fathoms that somewhere in his heart his dad is a good person. Though Andrew is very strong opinionated, he either likes someone or not. When he meets someone, if they piss him off, he usually just forgets about them. However, his dad is family, he can’t just forget his family.

Relationships with parents are never easy, so I understand where Andrew is coming from. My relationship with my own dad has always been tricky, especially when having a conversation with him. We can never seem to get past the surface of things.

April 17, 2014
“Hi dad. How was your day?” .
“It was busy. But I got lots of work done.”
“That’s good.”
“How’s school going?”
“Good. I’ve been really busy with all the writing.”
“Are you able to get everything done?”
“It’s a lot but I’m managing.”
“Well, I should let you get back to whatever you are doing.”
“Okay, bye.”
“Bye.”

Though I always try to stay on good terms with my dad, sometimes things get tense between us. We are both emotional people, with not very much in common. When my dad brings up adult conversation subjects, he starts out talking calmly. But when I don’t respond with the answer he wants, he often ends up yelling at me, and I don’t respond very well to yelling. (does anyone?) But my dad always feels that is the only way to get through to me.

March 21, 2014
“Alyssa, you need to get interests.”
“Dad, I know what you are saying, but I’m figuring it out.”
“You can’t just sit here in the house, watch television and go on the internet.”
“I know dad. I was hoping we could spend some time together.”
“I’m not here to entertain you. I told you that before you came home.”
“Well, I know.”
“You should be spending more time with friends.”
“I would, but I have no more punches on this bus pass. I spent time with them at the beginning of my break and they all have lives. And you said you wouldn’t buy me another.”
“Well, if you want to get out, we can make a plan. Alyssa, don’t start crying. Your mother always did this and it ticked me off.”
“Well dad, what do you want me to do? I’m sorry I’m not Fletcher. I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life. I’m still figuring it out. God, this has been the worst spring break ever!”

I ran downstairs after that and continued to cry. My dad came downstairs about an hour later to yell at me more. Communicating is very hard with my dad, and I thought four years since my parents divorce in 2010 that things with my dad would get better. We have good and bad days. I guess that’s just the way it is. Through hearing about Andrew’s relationship with his dad, it has made me think a lot about my relationship with my own dad. In some sense, our situations with our dads are similar. We have both always felt disconnected from our dads and fighting to get that attention we have both felt deprived of. Both wondering if we'll ever have that great relationship, but yet distancing ourselves in the fear of rejection from our own family. It seems only time will tell if things will be able to work out for the better.

I have had this falling out and distancing of myself with my parents, but it’s only because I’m trying to find my way and become my own person. I’m sure that’s what Andrew is trying to do too, He has said his relationship with his dad has always been “complicated.” I am sure he and his dad will eventually come to an understanding of each other. It will take time, however, I’m sure they both know in their hearts its the right thing to do. Time is everything and you never know when time will take a loved one away. His dad has had some faults, but only time will tell if the relationship will ever be repaired or forever damaged.



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