In August of 2010 I tried to fix things with my father. It’s something I’ve done a million times, and for some reason even after I would “learn my lesson” I’d go back and do it again. I’d throw myself into trying to rebuild some kind of relationship. Ignoring all warning signs of his using, and letting him back into my life. I don’t know why I did it, but it didn’t end well as usual, and it got me worked up all over again.
I still don’t know how he got a hold of my phone number, and the smart thing to do once finding out it was him, would have been to just hang up the phone and stop answering. But something inside got me to pick up the phone almost every time he called. At first everything was fine, he sounded good, he wanted to know about my life, and he actually seemed to take some kind of responsibility for what had happened in the past. At least I thought he did. Who knows…I was probably being my usual self and hearing only what I wanted so desperately to hear. But we talked for maybe two weeks and part of me honestly thought there was a chance at having a relationship. It was nice…he was far away so I knew I was safe, but maybe one day I could go visit him. I let myself believe this stupid fantasy that he was better, and this time was “different”.
After the first few weeks things started to change. He got more demanding. Wanted intimate details about my life, wanted my address, wanted to know everything I was doing at all times. The every other day phone call turned into every day multiple times, with texts every few hours. I tried to pull back and I stopped answering, and I deleted the text messages. But that just made it worse. He started criticizing my friends and my husband (who he’d never met). He told me that he had “friends” that were “watching me” in this area…and he didn’t approve of what I was doing. I had no idea what he was talking about. To this day I’m not entirely sure who those “friends” were, or whether or not they even existed. I started to get that familiar feeling of dread. He wasn’t sober…who was I kidding. The 3 am phone calls, and text messages all through the night were probably from him being on a binge. I felt so stupid…and promised myself that I would cut off contact, and do everything I could to keep him out of my life.
The final phone call came in one night. I was sitting outside on the balcony and my phone lit up with that number I now had memorized. I reminded myself what I needed to say, and picked up the phone. He must have heard it in my voice when I answered, because he was suddenly sweet as pie. Wanting to know how my week had been, how was I liking work, was I enrolled back in school yet…typical “concerned and loving father”. And I will admit…I ALMOST fell for it. The small talk lasted 5 minutes, and then I got up the guts to tell him I was done. I told him that I couldn’t do it anymore. I knew he was still using, I didn’t want to be involved in his crazy behavior, and I was done talking to him. I told him I loved him, but that I couldn’t deal with his problems. He tried to interrupt me, so the second I was done saying what I needed to say, I hung up the phone.
He called 6 times the second I hung up. Each time I ignored it, and let it ring through to voicemail. When that didn’t work, I turned off the phone all together. An hour later I turned it back on and got 2 voicemails, and over 10 text messages. They started off nice. Please call him back, he promised he wasn’t using, he was sorry if he upset me, he loved me…etc. But they quickly turned nasty. He threatened to tell my entire family “what I’d been doing”. I had no idea what he was talking about…figured he was just as crazy as I remembered…and ignored the messages.
A few days later was my grandma’s birthday (on my mom’s side). I had been dodging calls and texts from him since the night I’d hung up. Anyways, we were all gathered at her house for her party when her house phone rang. She was only on it for a minute when I realized who it was. I was FURIOUS. The fact that he had the nerve to call her house, on her birthday, when my entire family was there made my blood boil. He told her that he was “concerned” about me and needed to talk to her about my recent behaviors. I ran outside and pulled out my phone. I instantly called him and screamed. I’m always told not to react when he does stuff like that…but I couldn’t help myself. I yelled at him until he finally hung up.
Over the next few weeks my father continued to text me. He continually threatened to “tell them everything”. I would get texts at 4 in the morning that said things like “truth bombs away”…”your grandmother’s, like me, are horrified”. I was frustrated, but I ignored him. I never thought he’d actually do anything, after all I still had no idea what he was talking about. I’d get things like “if you don’t tell them, I will”. Not entirely sure what I was supposed to tell them…but what’s a girl to do?
Then the phone calls started. He called every family member he could think of. My aunts, my grandmother’s, even my own mother. He told them all that I was on drugs, and better yet, that my husband was forcing me to be a stripper. Classy I know. After a few days of fielding calls, emails, and Facebook messages… I filed a police report for harassment. I had over 50 text messages from him in total, and endless amounts of phone calls. I didn’t respond to him other than to tell him that the report had been filed, which of course he scoffed at.
As usual the police told me they couldn’t do anything. He was in Florida, I was in Ohio…basically I got “well we can file a report, and we’re sorry to hear that, but there’s nothing we can do”. After hearing that so many times, I flipped out. Every time he would send me a text, I’d go back to the police station. I rounded up reports of him stalking and harassing people, and took them with me. Finally on my 4th or 5th visit in a week, they listened. The officer I spoke with here in Ohio contacted an officer in Florida. That officer went to my father’s address (which I had gotten from a much earlier conversation with him), and told him that charges would be pressed if he didn’t leave me alone.
Things finally settled down and I stopped hearing from him. It wasn’t unusual, every time he would get in trouble with the law, his phone would “break” and he’d disappear off the map for a little while. To this day I still don’t know why he reacted to me the way he did, and I’m not sure where the lies he told my family came from. But it was the final straw for me…a real reality check you might say.
I don’t agree with “people never change”…because I’ve seen it happen right in front of me. Hell, I’m always changing. But when it comes to addicts…chances are they won’t change. It’s a hard reality to face…but unless the addict wants the help, and is truly dedicated to getting it…they won’t change. You can’t change them, but they will change you…and not usually for the better. It’s a constant struggle to watch someone you love suffer like that…but sometimes the only thing you can do is walk away…and do whatever it takes to take care of yourself.