Sunday, November 10, 2013

A little bit of history

I am 28 years old. 
I am the oldest of 4 children, the 4th of which is a step sibling. She was an "accident" during one of my father's drug binges nearly a decade ago. I have not seen her since she was 6 months old.
I grew up in what appeared to be the perfect family; appearances are deceiving. We had a big house out in the country, both my parents had good jobs and my father owned a business where he was very successful. We had a cat and a dog and several hamsters and from the outside, everything looked wonderful.

The reality is that my father's drug addiction started long before I was born; long before he met my mother. It started when he was a teenager experimenting with Quaaludes in the 1960's and early 1970's. He was the rebel child of my grandparents and over a decade younger than his only sibling (who was married with children not long after he was born.) He ended up in Florida and that is where he met my mother in a fitness center. 

The were married in the late 1970's and waited until they were a bit older to have children. During this time period, from what I have heard, things were great. My father opened his first fitness club and my mother and him both were body builders. In the mid 1980's they got pregnant with me. Prior to this they had left the state of Florida and moved a few states away to the same city where my grandparents lived. I was born in 1985 and my father had an upper management position with a huge health club chain. Things were good. Shortly after I was born, my grandparents gave my father their custom built home and built another home about 2 acres back behind it. They owned about 100 acres surrounding the homstead.

My brother was born several years later and my sister a few years after. Apparently, this is when the problems began. My brother was a difficult child. He had colic and screamed, cried, and pitched fits constantly. I was too young to remember any of this, but I imagine that was probably pretty stressful for my parents, not that it is any excuse to use drugs. It was at that time that my father started using prescription drugs to get through the evenings at home. My mother had no idea. 

Through the early 1990's things were going well. We moved to a large city about 2 hours away when my father was offered a great position with a company there. When that job ended less than a year later, we decided to move back to the homestead. My grandparents had moved back into the home they had previously given my parents and had sold the home they built behind it, so my grandfather along with some family friends financed my father to build our own home on adjoining property. 

By the mid 1990's we were in our new home and my father had created a partnership with 2 other men to open a franchise of a very well known fitness club in the nearest town to our home. I think this is probably the point where things really started to go down hill. 

I should stop with the history lesson here and explain my early childhood with my father. 
First, he was horrified of children. My mother told me much later on that he would not touch me until I was 6 months old. He worked a lot, and in his off hours he played sports with community and church teams and worked out at gyms. He was also in school and participating in body building competitions. 

I don't really have many memories of spending time with my father.

My earliest memory, probably at about age 4 or 5 was when my father brought home a huge garbage bag FULL of stuffed animals. He presented them to me at the front door that evening. I was thrilled, of course. That is pretty much the only happy memory of my childhood about my father that I can remember. 

I am told there are more- but somewhere deep inside of me they must be locked away. 

Another slightly later memory, maybe age 6, is from late at night, after I had been put to bed. They had left my bedroom door slightly cracked open and right outside my door was the kitchen. My parents sat at the kitchen table and they were arguing about something. I don't remember the words, or the yelling, or really any of it except watching the light from the kitchen shine through the cracked door and wondering why they were so unhappy with each other.

My father was distant from us. He was slightly more involved with my brother because my brother liked the same sports that he did. But my father and I had very little in common, and I would find out later that I was an embarrassment to him because I was a chubby child. He and my sister never really had time to form a relationship because by the time she was old enough to understand what a father/daughter relationship should be, he was already heavily using prescription pills and was rarely home. 

Which was a good thing.