Liz and Cindy talk about Cindy's Father's addiction. "I think that people can change. And people can learn from their mistakes."
Recorded October 27, 2017 Archived October 27, 2017 19:20 minutes
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DescriptionLiz, 22, interviews her mother Cindy, 45, about her father’s drug and alcohol addiction as she recalls it from her childhood.
Liz- Who was the person in your family who was abusing drugs?
Cindy- It was my father
Liz- Did he ever lie about his addiction to the family?
Cindy- Yes, he lied to my mother, his parents, it wasn’t obvious to anyone that he was addicted to drugs
Liz- So no one ever saw him abuse drugs?
Cindy- No one in our family, no
Liz- Did he ever steal from the family, to get money to support his addiction?
Cindy- No he was working, he worked all the time. There was never a time where he didn’t work. He probably used money he should have used on the family on drugs. But he never directly stole from anyone.
Liz- So how do you think your dads addiction effected the family?
Cindy- Let me start off by saying my mother and father were very young when they got married. My mother was 17 and my father was 18. By the time I was born they were both 18 years old. My mother realized what was going on because she lived with him before anyone else. And his parents didn’t want to see it at first. Not their son.
Cindy- They were very proud, came from farmer’s small town. So not in their neighborhood, not their son.
Liz- So further down the line, how do you think his addiction was affecting your family?
Cindy- It was more, he was absent. He would go away for a couple of days and not call or check in. So he was more absent. There was money that could have been used on the family that he of course used for drugs, and alcohol. My father was cross-addicted so he was addicted to both drugs and alcohol. He would come home and be violent, not as much towards people but sometimes towards my mother. Most of the time he would throw furniture, and yah know cuss and yell. That type of thing. When she complained or that kind of thing.
Liz- so did his addiction directly affect your relationship with him?
Cindy- I think so but not at the time because it was what I knew.
Liz- How old were you?
Cindy- I think I was 6 when he got clean.
Liz- Oh so you were really young
Cindy- I was really young, when he had the addiction. And before he got clean my parents separated for a while. So they did get back together. But I think through out my life going forward my father over compensated. We Started to become a little spoiled, even my mother. He spoiled us rotten, because he felt bad for what he did to us. I didn’t know that not every kid got a brand-new bicycle every year for Christmas. It was the 80’s and I had a color TV in my bedroom. It was silly stuff like that, I had beepers and cellphones and brand-new cars. Because my father worked hard but also because he was over compensating for what he did in the past. And work became his new addction.
Liz- So how do you think you coped with the situation?
Cindy- There was, and I don’t remember a lot and I think that was part of my defense mechanisms as a child. I don’t remember 1st grade or 2nd grade. And when I do have memory again now I remember 3rd grade I remember not speaking to other kids, I remember being real stand off-ish. And ultimately I failed the 3rd grade, not only because of a learning disability but because I closed up.
Liz- Did he ever get into fights, and you kind of covered this earlier but fights of arguments with family members?
Cindy- My mother. I remember yelling. I remember the last night. It’s what I remember as the last night. And I’m pretty sure now that it was when he stopped. Me and my mom and my brother were home. My brother was not even 3 at the time, maybe 3. My father came home, my mom and him got into a little shouting match. And he called me into the room because of course he had been gone for 3 days. I went to see him and he said bad things about my mom. It must have been something I was used too. I don’t remember thinking it was anything but normal. And then I remember leaving his room and my mom asking me what he had said. And I told her that he had called her bad names. And then I remember going in my room. And hearing fighting from the other room. At that point, I don’t know if, It’s hard to remember because I was so young but I don’t know if there was a certain code word or I don’t know what it was. But I know that my mom wanted us to run to the car. So I grabbed my brother, me being 6 and him being 3. I grabbed my brother and we ran for the car. My mom was right behind us. My mom put my brother in the back seat where his car seat was. And I was in the front seat of the car. As we were pulling down the street from our house. My father came behind us and put his fist through the glass window where I was sitting. I remember not having any serious injuries but some where the glass had got me. I remember seeing in his face right away that he knew that he had messed up. Like that was the last straw. My mother has told me since then that she always told him if he hit her it was one thing, but if he ever hurt the kids that he was done. So at that point he knew he was done. We got out of the car and ran across to a neighbors house. Because my mom couldn’t very well drive the car with a broken window and glass everywhere. So we started running to the neighbors house. As we were running, my mom carrying my brother and me following behind. I remember my father trying to stop me and putting his hand on my shoulder and me seeing that his hand was all cut up and bleeding. And the neighbors let us in. I found out much later that my father got in his vehicle and drove it into the closest telephone pole, because he realized he had messed up what was most important to him, which was us.
Liz- So moving on from that night, did anyone or anything try to help him with his addiction?
Cindy- That night of course he was taken to the hospital by ambulance. And he called out to my mother who would not come to him. From that point he’s been clean. He had, funny fact, the same friend who got him into drugs initially became his AA sponsor. So it funny how it all comes around. I don’t know if it was just that guy that got him into drugs but he was part of that crowd that got my father into drugs. Was the person who saved him ultimately from the drugs took him to AA. My father is still in AA to this day, has sponsored many people.
Liz- And this is 39 years, almost 40 years later right?
Cindy- Yup, And swears by AA. A lot of people say it’s not for them. I obviously worked for him. My father swears by it.
Liz- Do you think there is anything that Mommom wishes she could go back and change?
Cindy- My mother would probably, You know I don’t know. Because I think, I sure she’d wish none of it ever happened. I’m sure she’d wish that he never did drugs to begin with. But I also think that, because he was also an alcoholic if he was just an alcoholic, you hear how I say just. Society would have accepted it better and he wasn’t a good drunk either. But my father was not a good drunk. He was a mean drunk. I hear stories of when my father beat people up. But with a smile on his face. If you were to meet my and anyone who has ever met my father to this day would never guess that my father ever had any kind of drug problem. Because he’s charming and he’s attractive and he’s got a great smile.
Liz- People have said they looked like a Hollywood Couple from the 70’s right?
Cindy- Oh yeah my parents were very attractive. My mother came from a dark haired green eyed handsome man. My grandmother said when they were young he looked like James Dean. And my grandmother was from Japan. So my mother was this adorable little Asian girl, with long black hair to her waist. And my father was a 6 foot 2 blonde haired blued eyed, all American boy next store. My grandmother used to joke they lived near a bridge, there was a bridge on the little country road they lived on. And there was always little girls from the time my dad was 10 years old, standing on that bridge and she never understood. But he was a good looking guy.
Liz- Any lesson learned?
Cindy- Probably that I grew up knowing. Not knowing but always looking at it as. I don’t look at addicts, I don’t look at people who use drugs or even people who do bad things. Because I worked in a group home with boys 14 to 18 years old who had been formerly incarcerated, some of them drug dealers. I don’t see that there are people. I think there are people who have done bad things. But I don’t think that there are bad people. Back then people might have thought my dad was a bad person, but he wasn’t a bad person. I don’t think it’s impossible to teach an old dog new tricks. I think that people can change. And people can learn from their mistakes. And it is never too late.
Liz- So kind of wrapping it up, could you kind of describe who your dad is now and your relationship with him. And how that is different from who he was?
Cindy- Again I was a young child and I was dad’s little girl. He had a little girl and a little boy. The relationdship then, it’s hard for me to even remember because I was such a young child. I have memories and I have things I have blocked from my memory. From when I was a small child. But then growing up with a father who was a recovering addict. Because my father will always be an addict. My father will always be an alcoholic. And I think of it this way because he told me this. That if you’re an alcoholic, you’re an alcoholic. You can’t be used-to-be an alcoholic. So now he is in recovery for thirty plus years, almost forty. Growing up my dad was a great dad. He worked hard, maybe a little too hard. He was the coach of my brothers little league team from t-ball to Babe Ruth, my dad was a baseball coach. Baseball being one of his passions. Like I said he spoiled us rotten. So he worked for what was important to us. That was us the kids, his family. But if you were to meet my father now. My father who is not this 18 year old boy. My father who his mid-sixties, well early sixties, he’s 64. My father is now 64 years old. So he spends his retirement, finding old furniture fixing it up and selling it on the internet. And he can charm people like a used car salesman because he’s got that smile. I keep in contact with hi9m several times a week, umm so I don’t know… I don’t know what else I can say about my dad.