For most of your life, your father may have consumed copious amounts of drugs and alcohol, embarrassing you every step of the way. When you were around him, you never knew which one of his personalities you would be experiencing. Instead, you walked around on egg-shells or became suspicious of his great mood because you were uncertain of what would come next. All you have really wanted is to have your father present in your life. You will not, however, allow a relationship to continue with him when he is continuously under the influence. You understand that you are not dealing with your father as much as you are dealing with his addiction.
You may be skeptical of his most recent news of getting sober after years of feeling rejected, neglected, and unappreciated. If you really want him to get sober, you can be influential in his decision to maintain his sobriety. As Father’s Day approaches, you can use this day to show that you support his sobriety.
Your support may be the very thing that could help him to stay sober for today. Your dad will need more tools other than support for sustainable long-term sobriety, but support is crucial. Recovery was not meant to be done alone. He will need to get established in the fellowship of recovery with people who understand what he is going through. Your dad will also thrive with the support of his loved ones to know that he is doing the right thing. Supporting him does not mean he gets a free pass from all of the pain he has put you through. Your support just means that you will no longer enable his addictive behaviors. Instead, you will bolster his efforts to get sober.
You may feel burned by him and his addiction because drugs and alcohol have taken priority in his life. You are justified in your hurt feelings. However, showing your dad the golden rule in this scenario by treating him the way you would like to be treated may provide a karmic experience. If he is feeling encouraged in his recovery, he will more likely work hard to acquire coping skills to stay sober and learn how to be the father he was meant to be. Everyone makes mistakes, and yes, some errors are more harmful than others. Mistakes are meant to be learned from, and if he is in recovery, he can use therapy and the 12-Steps to find the fatherly intuitions he needs going forward.
Compassion and forgiveness are a tall order, especially when talking about family. You do not have to forget what has happened. You still need to remember what he is capable of when he is drinking and using. Forgiveness allows you to stop living in fear and constant turmoil from his addiction and recognize that drugs and alcohol changed him. Your dad is not getting high or drunk because of you. He is suffering from an addiction that tells him he is not addicted. His brain overpowers his memories of what he has done. The obsession with drugs and alcohol will not stop until he is drunk again. Of course, this is not an excuse for his bad behavior. He is sick and needs help to get well. Your forgiveness can be vital in maintaining his sobriety.
With your forgiveness, he can no longer use your “blame” as reasoning to just go ahead and get drunk or high. Even though this is his problem, becoming knowledgeable in what addiction entails, and getting support for yourself, can lead you towards forgiveness for your peace of mind. Regardless of whether he stays sober or not, you can move on in your life in a way you could not fathom until you pass on forgiveness. When you forgive your dad, you are not doing it so much for him as much as you are doing it for yourself.
Even if your dad has not been the best example for you, you can be a good example for him. Demonstrate love and kindness in the best way you can without expecting anything from the relationship. Extending your father some humanity will make you feel better overall because you are showing him that there is something to get sober for. He may believe that he deserves the life he has because his self-worth is so low. Without cosigning abuse or trauma, you can grant him a second chance at life in your relationship by setting boundaries that are comfortable for you. Implementing these boundaries will make you feel safe and give him clear cut directions with how your relationship will work. There is no need to feel bad about sticking up for yourself. If he is working his recovery program, he will be obliged to heal the relationship. If he is not staying sober, your boundaries will become a moot point.
Make this Father’s Day one that is based on recovery principles that can help everyone involved get onboard for dad’s sobriety. Recovery has a way of mending relationships that were once perceived as completely fragmented and turn them into something healthier than ever.
Offering a full range of recovery and mental health services, Valiant Living offers “Expanded Recovery” to enrich our clients’ lives in mind, body, and spirit. Through evidence-based therapy options and the endless adventure of Colorado, Valiant fosters connection, encouraging clients to get connected to themselves, their peers, their families, and their higher power. With the power of recovery, clients are restored to full health and experience life-changing healing. Call us today for more information: 303-536-5463