Tag Archives: Alcoholism

Prized possessions

What is your most prized possession? Is it some earthly possession, or God? Whatever it is, if you lost it would you also lose your faith in God because the loss would really take a toll on you? In church, about two weeks ago, the priest said, “If God is not your most prized possession, then you need to pray hard.

The basis of this was a reading we had that Sunday. It was from the Gospel of Mark, where a man approached Jesus and asked Him what he needed to do to attain eternal life.

“You know the commandments”, Jesus answered him. “Do not commit adultery; do not kill; do not lie; honour your father and mother; do not covet your neighbour’s wife or property…”

“I have been following all those commandments since I was a child”, the man replied.

Jesus looked at him happily, “That is very good. Now go give out all your possessions and come follow me”.

At that, the man seemed suddenly downcast. He was a very wealthy man. The Bible doesn’t expressly indicate whether the man agreed to give out his wealth, but his expression could give someone a hint.

“It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to heaven”, Jesus told His disciples. Furthermore, he told them that anyone who gave up his family and possessions to follow Him would attain eternal life.

That reading might be very discouraging to many people, especially those who are so attached to their material possessions…and most of us are. Pretence aside, I would love to be so wealthy, therefore personally I find the thought of being poor awfully discouraging. It’s even worse for someone who is already wealthy to lose their wealth because being poor really sucks.

Growing up, my family and I have found ourselves in situations where food was barely available, so we’d go hungry for long periods. Funny thing about that is, it was never for lack of money that we slept hungry; but it was because for reasons I’ll never be able to comprehend, dad never prioritized our food.

He’d uncaringly spend his money on beer and his own food, which he ate out. So while we were crying because of how hungry we felt, dad was coming home full, drunk and in a foul mood that had him raising hell on us the entire night.

I have never doubted mom’s love for my sisters and I. She’s the one person I know who has single-handedly sacrificed so much so we could be where we are today. When we were starving and she couldn’t feed us because she wasn’t working at the time, I saw how dejected she was. So while I’m all for going to heaven, I also know it’s very difficult to function on an empty stomach… or to just survive without basic needs. It is hard!

Hunger and poverty are the primary reasons some people from very humble backgrounds get into all sorts of unimaginable evils, because man’s inherent instinct is that of survival. While in reality there are people who commit crimes purely for the basis of satisfying their own selfish interests, I also know there are some people, with good intentions, who do wrong things out of desperation for themselves or their loved ones; for instance, a jobless parent who steals money to take their sick child to hospital. While this is still wrong, it is also not hard to understand what drove them to commit such transgressions.

In light of this, I wouldn’t imagine Jesus was condemning possession of wealth. The way I see it, He was condemning the acquisition and hoarding of so much wealth when there are others suffering. I usually imagine how beautiful the world would be if the haves would benevolently donate just a small percentage of their wealth to those who don’t have.

Every time I come across a child or person living on the streets, my heart breaks. It feels especially distressing when there’s nothing I can do to alleviate their suffering. I imagine this is what Jesus was trying to address.

Given how the world works, there will always be people who have, and those who don’t have. However, that doesn’t automatically mean that all affluent people will go to hell while the pecuniary ones happily walk through heaven’s golden gates.

It’s all about our intentions, which God is already privy to. All we need to do is follow the precepts of Christ, and be humble and kind. This is the surest way to go to heaven. After all, the two greatest commandments are to love God above all else, and to love one another. That’s how we go to heaven. It’s not simple, but it’s not impossible to accomplish either.

Height of Addiction

This weekend has been an intense emotional roller coaster, both for me, my mom and my sisters. A lot has happened, and it all stemmed from one misguided action… so basically what we’ve been experiencing is some sort of domino effect.

This past Friday, I was working on some school assignment in the evening when mom received a call from a friend. It was an urgent call. I could not hear what he was saying from the other end but the worry in mom’s voice made me guess all was not well. When she got off the phone, she came to talk to me.

Apparently, the friend had asked her to go get dad because he had been roughed up during a bar brawl. He’s been on his annual leave for the last three weeks and all he’s been doing is bonding with his favourite beer bottles. That’s all that seems to matter to him, sadly. That day he had left home early in the morning to go to the bar and he had come in around 2.00am drunk after spending the entire Thursday afternoon out.

As she asked me to accompany her to the bar dad had gone to, she sounded horrified. We did not know what state we were going to find him in so the anxiety was overwhelming. By the time I changed into decent clothes, mom had already left.

When I caught up with her, she was already with dad, who was sitted on the co-driver’s seat. My jaw dropped when I saw him. His clothes were all ruffled and muddy and he had this huge bleeding bump on his forehead. His left eye was red too. I had never seen him in that state before. Worst part was, he was so drunk so his words were coming out slurred… and at the time he seemed so calm and composed. It’s like he wasn’t aware of what was going on.

Seemingly, he was in some state of utopia where everything was all rosy. To mom and I though, it felt so humiliating. This was the head of our family; my father, and mom’s husband. A wave of anger engulfed me and at that moment I felt so much hatred towards him. He was tainting our family’s image; subjecting us to public ridicule.

Initially, I’d accompanied mom so we could drive him back home since he was clearly not in any position to drive. However, another one of mom’s friends had volunteered to drive him back home before I got there. After starting the car for him because he could not locate the cut-out, I stepped aside so he could reverse the car.

Some lady who was watching asked mom and I to get in the car but I refused. There was no way I was going to be seen with dad after the drama I imagined he had treated people to. I was so mad at him. Some guys, who I also imagined had witnessed the whole scuffle, advised us to take him to hospital first. That gave me chills, because I thought, guys fight all the time, but they don’t always go to hospital for it; unless it was serious.

This had me thinking that he might have suffered some internal injuries, God-forbid. Problem is, he was looking so unkempt. He had to get cleaned before we started displaying him in public again. So mom and I advised that guy to drive him home.

Since the bar wasn’t a long distance from home, mom and I just walked back. When we arrived we found dad standing outside the car. He couldn’t even walk unaided. Therefore, mom helped him up the steps as the friend was leaving. At first I had ignored him but mom called me to go roll the car windows up.

When I started going up the stairs, I noticed bloody footsteps and I panicked, wondering what part of dad’s body was bleeding. I got to the house and I told mom about it. She hadn’t even noticed it. A few hours later, dad’s leg was still bleeding and he didn’t want to be taken to hospital. His forehead on the other hand seemed like it had been stung by bees.

Exasperated, mom called his brothers, hoping they would convince him to go to hospital and eventually, he agreed. We learned from my uncle that our 3-year old nephew was suffering from acute pneumonia and had been admitted in hospital. My sisters and I decided to kill two birds with one stone: accompany dad to hospital and visit our nephew.

We left the hospital around 4.00am Saturday morning after tests, including a CT scan showed he was ok. Due to that disruption, now the school assignment I was working on is still incomplete and I feel so inconvenienced. Every time I keep thinking this was totally unnecessary and could have been avoided.

Dad on the other hand is home with a bandaged foot and forehead and he won’t say what happened to him. He says he fell down, although some people say he got into a fight. We don’t know how he acquired his injuries. All I know is that this has caused my family great humiliation. His siblings suggested it’s time he went to rehab but that won’t work if he is unwilling.

Since I’ve known dad, he’s always been best buddies with the bottle; and as we grow older, his love for the frothy liquid seems to grow alarmingly, while everything else crumbles. Though he won’t admit it, I can tell he’s already addicted and him quitting will take a miracle. After everything I’ve witnessed, and felt these past couple of days, I would advise anyone to stay away from alcohol. It has caused us so much pain and humiliation, and this could have been avoided altogether if dad could make better choices.

Dimming Star

I don’t know about you, but I love watching the sky on a starry night. The beauty of the star-lit night sky is just breath-taking. When I was younger, I used to spend time trying to identify the different constellations. I was so fascinated by them. Even nowadays, when I’m outside alone at night or in some company, I’ll just find myself gazing idly at the sky trying to make out some patterns. Guess some old habits never die.

Though my knowledge in astronomy is very limited, I do know that at some point stars die; beautiful as they are. I won’t go into details of that because even I do not quite comprehend how that happens.

So now that we’ve already established I’m not well versed with matters astronomy, I’ll just use figurative examples of situations we can relate to… in the bible, there’s that story of the Magi (commonly known as the wise men) and how they saw a bright star shining in the east. They followed it and it led them to where the new born Christ child lay in a manger, where they presented him with the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Christmas star

In our day-to-day lives, we see stars too; they could be people, or bright opportunities which lead us to greener pastures. However, sometimes those stars also die at some point. My priest in church gave the example of a glass of wine… funny as that may sound, this may be a star that guides many people. Maybe one’s stressed and they just need to calm down so they pour a glass of wine, sip it away and the anxiety disappears.

Nonetheless, due to repeated use, the glass of wine becomes two bottles of beer and before one knows it, they’ve graduated to full-fledged alcoholics, who might even be abusive to those they live with. At that point, it becomes evidently clear that the once beautiful star died, as it stopped playing the role it was initially intended for.

Furthermore, the star could be a special person in our lives. When we’re with them we feel inspired to be our best possible selves. However, that relationship turns toxic and everything starts going downhill… we hurt those around us, constantly hurling invectives at them as a sort of venting mechanism.

We’re encouraged to exercise our better judgement and let those dead stars go once we realise they are turning toxic. Additionally, we should aspire to be stars to other people and resist the urge to be Herods (Biblical villain). Instead of following the star, which guided the Magi, for good reasons, jealousy made the incumbent king at the time want to kill the new born prince of peace. Fear of being dethroned made him ask the wise men to bring him information of the child’s whereabouts once they found Him, so he could have him killed

Now that this New Year is as young as it could get, we need to make an evaluation of what it is we need to let go of while it’s still early, so we don’t have regrets at the end of the year God willing. The Magi followed a star which led to them to Christ, the eternal light of the world. If we are not sure what star to follow, then that’s the one we need to focus our gaze on too; because that’s the one star we’re assured will never dim or die. It will always burn bright and illuminate our lives.

Family life, not meant for all? Part 3

Some people are clearly unmoved by children’s sentiments and if you ask me, it’s pretty unwise of a grown up to take offence when a child makes an innocent comment. Dad’s like that. He forgets that it’s commonly said, ‘if someone wants a really genuine answer or opinion on something, they should try picking a child’s mind’. They are honest, because they see the world through pure eyes; their emotions haven’t been coloured by biases yet.

They don’t see colour, or different religions… It’s no wonder Jesus said, that anyone who wants to get to heaven should be like a child. That said, dad didn’t dig deep into his conscience to see where he was erring as a parent. Instead, he felt comfortable telling himself all these years that my small sis was at fault for telling mom we should find a new dad.

There’s also a grudge he harbours against me because years ago, when I was only two years old, I ‘rejected’ him. As it is, my parents had parted ways when I was about six months old. Dad’s mom had been pressuring him to leave mom and find a girl from a wealthy family and somehow he had heeded to his mom’s advice.

For more than a year they were separated, so while I was growing up, I didn’t know dad. Eventually, he decided to get back with mom and when he came for us, I didn’t recognise him. So I ran. That precisely, was what he accuses me off. That I ran away from him, instead of running into his embrace. Now that I have an idea of how dad’s mind works, I try not to let that incident bother me.

When Saturday came, he left. I’m not sure whether he left for his brother’s, or he travelled back to his other house so he could prepare for work. Given that he’d gone back on a Saturday, it wasn’t hard to tell he couldn’t stand our presence.

Midweek, he sent mom some money. He didn’t call though. After assessing the situation, I told mom it would be better if she gave him back the keys; not because he deserved it, but because we should let nature take its course. We have tried our best. As it is, we can’t force him to do anything he doesn’t want to do. If ever he changes for the better, hopefully he will, it will have to come from his heart. In the meantime we’ll just leave everything to God.

Earlier today, mom gave him back the keys. He was ecstatic. He even said he was going to church. He asked me if I needed a lift and I told him I’d already attended mass. He left. However, I wasn’t fully convinced he’d gone to church because the mass he purported to attend was half way through and the other would be starting in an hour’s time. I figured time would tell.

About two hours later, he came back. Mom asked him how mass was and he said he wasn’t from church. I felt disappointed he hadn’t been there but I also appreciated that he didn’t lie about it. Lately he’s become a pathological liar; guess that’s a characteristic of people getting into an advanced stage of drug addiction. His alcohol breath was a clear indication of where he’d been.

Five minutes later, he left again. Turns out he’d only come back for more money. As my big sis was on her way to get some items from some nearby supermarket, he offered to give her a lift and as she had spent the entire night up, working on a client’s research-related report, she just agreed.

While he was driving, he told her he was going to sell the car because he couldn’t use it when he wanted to see his mother. That admission rubbed me off the wrong way. I know, while he’s so fond of his mother, I can’t say the same of us. He treats us like we’re an obstacle; the greatest setback in his life.

A few days ago, I just found myself wondering why God would give an irresponsible man such as him a family to take care of, yet he seems so detached. As a brother and son, he may have been perfect but the way I see it, he just wasn’t cut out for married life. He seems to have picked the wrong vocation because as a husband and father he’s performed so poorly.

The only thing that gives me hope is the fact that God took a chance on him.  So maybe there’s something worth saving in him after all. Only time will tell.

Family life, not meant for all? Part 2

The entire week he didn’t call and he refused to pick up calls. Since he comes home on Fridays, we waited to see how he would handle that sticky situation. Eventually the week ended and as was expected, he called mom to tell her he was coming home and he wanted to find the car keys in their usual place. From what I gathered, he practically barked the order over the phone.

When he got home, he found my small sis and I. We didn’t have classes that day. First thing he did, he asked for the car keys. It didn’t escape my attention that he had alcohol breath on a Friday afternoon, meaning he’d imbibed before making his way home.

We told him we didn’t know where the keys were. Disappointingly, he dialled his brother and I must say I felt ashamed as I watched, and listened to him pouring out his heart to him about how we had hid his keys. According to him, we were colluding with our mother… which wasn’t entirely false. He went on to say some things I would have preferred remained unsaid since those are essentially family ‘secrets’; and all these he did, thinking we would be intimidated into giving him back the keys.

I couldn’t help but wonder, what authority he thought his brother had over us. He’s never come through for us when we’re in dire need of some assistance. Worse still, the last time he visited us while in the company of his mom and siblings, they tried to show mom how bad she was for dad and he (dad) blatantly took their side. Because of that and other unfortunate incidents, I do not feel his authority is binding on us. If at all he has any, it would only be persuasive.

As a daughter, I must admit I felt disappointed and ashamed. Disappointed that my old man was too blind to notice obvious things; that there are issues in our family which need to be addressed and it won’t be an outsider addressing them; and ashamed that by implication, he was giving up his ‘man card’. Because he was indirectly creating the impression he is not strong enough to handle his wife and kids, so only his brother could.

When he was done, he said he was leaving and was never going to come back. That again, he thought would function as a threat, which obviously didn’t serve the intended purpose. Shortly after, he left. Of the things that really got me so worked up was the fact that he didn’t care to ask how we’d been doing since he’d been gone, given that he knew mom had told him we were experiencing some serious financial challenges. All he cared about was his mother. The rest of us could go to hell.

Later in the evening, his brother called mom. He didn’t tell her why he was calling and only said he was inviting her to join them in some trip they had the next day. The one that had dad taking an early off on a Friday. Courteously she refused because it was on such short notice. Even he, was surprised dad hadn’t told us in the least that there was a family event; not that we would have attended anyway.

Mom asked him if there was anything else he wanted to tell her and he said there wasn’t so she just told him she knew he wanted to ask about the keys. She explained to him why she had taken them and unexpectedly, he actually understood why she had done it. He even asked if dad was still going to church. It wasn’t hard to tell he was also concerned about his brother’s behaviour. She also told him she wouldn’t be giving dad back the keys until the underlying issues were resolved.

When dad came home from the bar later, he said he was washing his hands off of us. He didn’t want anything to do with us. I had trouble understanding where he had prioritised us as his family, seeing as he was readily going out on a limb for his extended family, yet when it came to us, he seemed unperturbed.

The other day he was drunk, he got cross with my small sis, apparently for something she did ages ago, when she was around six. “You asked your mother if you could go find a new dad,” he scoffed, “maybe it’s time you did. Go find yourself another dad”.

That got me really concerned. All these years, I never knew he heard when my small sis had said that. Clearly she hadn’t said it out of pride, or anger. It was an innocent child speaking her mind out as a result of the misery our own father was putting us through.

So why would he in his right mind, not take a moment to ponder over that? Why would an innocent six year old say that of her dad? Personally I would freak out if God-forbid, I heard my children saying they wanted another mom.

Fatherless child: Part 2

A week ago my big sis had a dental surgery. Dad drove her to the hospital, albeit reluctantly. He didn’t know what went in there but mom, who was with her the entire time came home distraught. She likened her experience to what Mother Mary must have gone through when she saw Jesus being tortured during His Passion; a mother’s pain when she sees her child suffering and can do nada about it.

When dad travelled out of town for work, he left her on an entirely liquid diet and he never called even once to find out how she was doing. He had her cancel her review appointment, knowing that the particular surgeon is only available once a week, so now she’s waiting for tomorrow’s appointment, which he still intimated she should cancel. All this while I’ve been thinking, if he cared even the slightest bit, he would have feigned some concern. That way we would never have known how much he detests us.

In very blunt words, dad has been the bane of our lives. The way I see it, he hates to see us happy. When he gets the impression we’re happy he does something to sabotage it. So if someone asked how it feels to have a father, I may not have anything positive to say about it.

Last Saturday he came home drunk as usual, and started complaining to mom how my small sis had told him he wasn’t her father.

“Mom, let’s find another dad,” he said, mimicking my small sister’s voice when she was younger. I was actually surprised because I didn’t know he had heard that years ago. Those are words my small sis said when she was around five, and now it’s years later. When she said that, she did it innocently because she had seen how happy other kids looked when they were with their dads, yet with us, the only thing we felt was misery.

He let us go hungry when he had money stashed in his bank account; spent nights outside drinking away… he made us know how it feels to live in a house where parents fight, physically, and as mom was the weaker of the two she always ended up hurt.

When I heard him mimicking my sister, I couldn’t help but think, if he heard that years ago, how come he never made an attempt to change? A good parent would have been concerned why their five year old daughter was saying such a thing. Instead, he only became more brutal, as if trying to emphasize the point. He didn’t seem to care what we felt/thought about him.

“Go find yourselves another dad,” he barked. “You think dads are bought in the supermarket. I’m leaving,” he told mom before walking out to go back to the bar, even though he was already drunk. “Let me know when you find another dad.” With that he left, and he came back the next day.

I know this might sound wrong, but honestly, I have more than enough reasons to believe that there are children who grew up fatherless, for whatever reasons, and have led happier lives than my sisters and I. Every time I picture myself raising my children in a home like the one I’ve grown up in-God forbid-I shiver, and I usually find myself thinking that it’s better to not have a family in the first place, because reliving this would be an absolute nightmare. I wouldn’t even imagine putting my kids through what I’ve been through myself.

When I was a child, I had a dream; that my dad would change and be a better man. Now I’m all grown up and almost moving out, and that dream didn’t come true. Sometimes, no, most of the times I fear that once I walk out of that door, I’ll lose his number and sever all possible ties I have with him. I’m afraid that one of the things I desperately want is to change my surname, because it constantly reminds me that he is my father.

Point is, I did grow up with my father. But if that has added any value to my life? I’m not sure. All I know is, I don’t want to be anything like him. When I get my own adorable children, God willing, I want to be everything he’s not; loving, caring, forgiving, empathetic…

There may be someone ‘fatherless’ out there who feels their lives would have turned out better if they had a dad; but take it from me; the grass is not always greener on the other side. For all I know, there are many children who grew up not knowing their fathers but who had very happy childhoods. Because at the end of the day it’s not about someone merely associating themselves with a father figure, but about what role that ‘figure’ plays in someone’s life. To some they are a blessing; and to others a curse. That’s just how life is.

 

 

Fatherless child: Part 1

absentee fathers

Fatherless child. Ever wondered who’s a fatherless child? I have a few ideas: it could be a child whose father is already dead; or it could be a child whose mother had more than one lover so she might not be able to tell who exactly is the baby’s father; it could also be a woman who had to raise a child alone because the father abandoned them; or it could be a child who knows the dad but he’s ever absent so the child considers him/herself fatherless.

I’m not oblivious to the fact that there may be other definitions of a fatherless child, but for the purposes of this post, discussion if you’d rather, I’ll limit myself to the aforementioned options since those are the ones I’m truly conversant with.

This post was prompted by very weird happenings; and I say weird, for lack of a better word. First of all, there’s this lady who works with mom. She has a three year old cousin whom she takes to mom’s beauty salon. So a few weeks ago mom playfully called him by his three names; the last being his surname.

Innocently, the kid told mom he wasn’t going by that surname anymore, and naturally she got curious. “My mom told me that one left us,” he answered innocently, when mom sought to find out why he was denouncing his surname.

“And the one you live with?” Mom asked since she knows the kid’s dad; or at least she thought she did.

“That’s not my real dad, but he lives with us.”

“D’you call him dad?” Mom pried.

“I just call him by his name,” he answered.

In my opinion, I felt the boy was too young for his mom to be telling him such complex matters but then again, even if she didn’t, someone else (think a nosy relative/neighbour) would beat her to the punch at some point. Anyways, that gave me the impression the boy already knew the man they live with is not his dad and that his actual dad deserted him and his mother. I couldn’t help wondering what would happen when later in future he meets him, knowing what he does now.

Then coincidentally, when I was coming home from court last Friday I overheard some neighbours’ kids talking. From my estimation they’re about three years old because they all recently joined kindergarten.

“Timmy says he doesn’t have a dad,” the only girl in that group of five children said. Timmy was also in that group, just listening silently.

“I have a dad,” another one said.

“Every child has a father and a mother,” the girl added confidently.

“But Chad says he’s the only one who has a mother and a father,” another one added. Chad wasn’t in the group with them but I know him and he’s a somewhat bratty kid who’s been mollycoddled by his parents a lot because he’s the last of three sons; so I kinda figured he had said that braggingly. I wouldn’t blame him though; his family emits the happy, perfect family vibes, unlike mine.

By the time I passed them, they were still debating about their friend Timmy being fatherless and whether it’s even possible for someone to be without a father. I pitied Timmy because I’ve heard of kids being bullied by others because they don’t have fathers. Thankfully those ones were not trying to make him feel bad about his fatherless condition.

Then in another totally unrelated instance, my small sis was arguing with dad. It wasn’t an argument per se. It was just dad doing all the talking while she on the other hand tried to block him out so she could finish fixing her breakfast.

He came home drunk in the morning after spending an entire night out club hopping and he found her in the kitchen. Mom had taken the car keys away because he always goes out to drink and by the time he comes back home he’s usually too drunk to park it.

Since he didn’t know who had taken the car keys and mom had already left the house, he assumed it was me or my sisters. When he started with his drunken rumblings, insulting us, my small sis just lost her cool and told him, he’d never been a father to her.

I understood where she was coming from; we’ve lived with him all our lives, but we couldn’t feel more fatherless. He’s been emotionally unavailable all through and never once has he tried to make up for the hurt he’s caused us. So even though we carry his name everywhere we go, we know it’s only a name.