When I was a little girl, my father was my best friend. My mother came and went, the first time she left I was less than a year old, my father was my constant. I did not realize then how mentally ill he was. He was kind, quiet, gentle… a gentle giant if you will, tall and broad with a head full of dark auburn hair. What women considered handsome, what I considered “a dad”.
He was creative, he played the piano and guitar, he made art. All sorts of art, from woodwork to macrame, to cartoon drawings. He was smart, he was in the medical field, it took 4 people to replace him after his death. Honestly, he was my hero. He was also manic depressive, that’s what they called it then, now it’s referred to as Bipolar 2.
He would often become depressed, it generally kicked in when my mother left, then she would come back and he would be happy again, or seemingly so… then there would be a closed door argument and she would disappear again. Some times just for months, some times we would go a year without hearing from her.
You have to understand I was just a child, so this was my “normal”, this is what I knew. I knew my father was “good” and that he loved me and he was my best friend. I knew that he liked things to be in order, and he liked quiet. Sometimes he would stop talking for days, I would sit at his feet and play quietly while he played “Yesterday” on the piano, over and over again. I would see him cry and ask him not to be sad.
Again, this was my normal.
We were driving somewhere, I was in the back of the car, I had just turned 9 years old. He told me he had spoken with my mother, she wanted to come home again. He asked me what I thought of this… I was his best friend, too… so he consulted me on these adult decisions. I thought about it for a moment and decided she should be allowed to come home. Home was happier, more alive, when she was there.
Things kind of happen very fast, I won’t get into all of the details here but after learning my mother had been having a long time affair with a family friend, I saw my father breakdown. I could hear him on the phone talking to my grandmother (his mother), I peeked around the corner as this giant of a man fell to his knees sobbing begging his mother to help him. I remember hearing him say, “mom, I’m going to kill her or I’m going to kill me, I can’t take it anymore”. I ran to him and wrapped my arms around him, pleading with him not to cry, assuring him it would be okay.
He checked himself into the hospital. A mental health facility in Baltimore, I vaguely remember visiting him, he made me a hotplate out of little tiles. At some point he decided to check himself out, against the doctor’s orders. It was the day after that he decided to end his life. I can’t go into that story right now, but I will. I’m shaking writing this, trying to get out just the very minimal details. It is important that I share these stories, important to me as I heal, and I think important to others who have lost a parent or loved one in this tragic way. Beyond that it is important in understanding how my Abandonment PTSD came to be, because that is the issue that allowed me to be so dependent on a Toxic Relationship.
This cycle of death and dysfunction in my family has to stop with me. The healing has to happen now. Please bear with me as I revisit these chapters of trauma. The whole story will unfold, one post at a time.