Name: Ibeline Marilou Delgado
Addiction Isn’t Isolated
My father is a victim of addiction; he had been for the entirety of my life. The fighting, crying, desperate calls, and longing for change were customary living in my household. However, it wasn’t until I was sixteen that I witnessed my father at his worst, at the peak of his addiction.
April 7th of 2021 is a date that has engraved itself into the depths of my most poignant memories. It was a Wednesday, the most unproblematic of weekdays, when my mom received an unexpected call from my father. After working at a job site in San Antonio, my father had too much to drink and had drunk-driven halfway to Houston, landing in a city two hours east of his worksite. Soon enough we were on the road, driving around aimlessly for an hour before finally locating him. My father’s whereabouts were disclosed only after convincing him to share his location as opposed to having us rely on his proven to be poor mapping skills. Two hours later we arrived, my dad’s Ford Explorer stranded on the side of Interstate 10. Upon approaching the car, my mother discovered my vulnerable father sitting unconscious in the driver’s seat. My parents argued for five minutes when I decided to leave the car and investigate the situation myself. When my father realized my presence, a wave of humiliation and disappointment overcame him.
His eyes were so sunken, his body was so limp from lack of control, his face was bloated while he held an expression of cluelessness– He was so unable to control his body that he looked possessed, I felt frightened, this was his peak. I watched him as he struggled to articulate his thoughts, his failure to sit upright triggered a feeling of sorrow and burden, I felt my body tense up, and my eyes began to tremble. What were merely altered levels of opioids in my brain, became the physical feeling of dropping in my chest, and with great despondency I sobbed, a despairing cry I had freshly uncovered. He sat with an expression of vulnerability as I shouted my feelings of disappointment, words so hurtful that even a man as wise as my father was rendered speechless. Midway through scolding, my mother removed me from the situation as it was time to refill the gas can at a nearby gas station. We headed down the road and thirty minutes later, we arrived back at my father’s location, where we discovered my dad’s unconscious body adjacent to the road. There he laid, with an empty grape flavored quarter-pint liquor bottle just inches away from his arms reach. Having dealt with his addiction before, my mom was unphased to see the atrocity before her. But I was devastated, it became clear to me that there would be no hope for recovery. My mother stepped over his lifeless body with efforts to refill his tank as I stood there weeping in disbelief. She picked up the can with intentions to refill the tank, her agitation only growing as she struggled to correctly fit the spout, but after scrambling for a bit, the gas finally began to flow. Noticing her success, my mother woke up my father to have him get into the car to go home. After a quick analysis, he realized what had happened; I watched him as he stood up and stumbled in my direction. He mumbled a few words, but his state of mind made it difficult to understand. Soon after, he tripped over his own two feet and slammed his mindless body into the side of the car and fell onto the grass where he once slept. He crawled on his hands and knees until he eventually stood up and fell into the backseat. I was at a loss for words. Noticing my look of exasperation, my father gazed at me with the most emotionless expression a person could bear. Finally, he said, “I’m sorry, Ibeline, this will never happen again. I’ll get better, I swear to you,” a phrase I’ve heard at least thirty times before. Lacking enough energy to say another word, I closed the door and walked away.
Due to years of emotional and physical abuse, my mother became a person of hate, hate she projected onto me beginning from the moment I was born. She grew to be heartless, uncaring, and distant, attributes that later led to a hate-fuel relationship between her and I. Although she was physically here, I lacked a mother/daughter relationship in my life; she was emotionally unavailable. I received no love, support, or affection from her, a connection I grew to accept over time. It hurt me to know that I would never experience nurture from my mom, but years of feelings of abandonment were finally enough for me to end any efforts of reconnection I made. My dad, however, was the most loving, compassionate, and supportive person I’ve ever met. He was the first person I turned to in situations of physical or emotional distress, he never devalued my feelings. I knew he had his issues, but his addiction never hindered his reliability. It wasn’t until recent years that I lost his trust. Unfortunately, my attachment to my father made his addiction exponentially harder for me, and as his state worsened, I realized I would soon lose the only person I found comfort and security within. His dependency made me feel alone; my desperation for change only amplified as I watched the only person who loved me wither away. Although life without a mother was hard, it wasn’t impossible; accepting abandonment is easy when you’ve been shown nothing but neglect. I longed for a mother, but ultimately, you can’t miss the things you’ve never had. My dad, however, was different. He spent his years raising me all alone, I received all the parental love I could have ever wanted through a singular person. But his loving characteristics depleted as the liquor infiltrated his body. I knew he loved me, but it became hard to feel through the unresponsive and low cognitive veil.
Although alcoholism was my father’s affair, his addiction corrupted my way of life. Every drunk driving accident, insurance bill, call from the local jail, and every threat of divorce took a toll on my mental health. I never thought I would be able to move on with my life, but years of desperation and abuse have taught me to focus my efforts on things within my control. Although my childhood has caused me immense feelings of pain, I can confidently say that I wouldn’t change it for any “normal” life I could’ve been given. My father’s disease has become part of my identity, it’s what makes me the person I am. I’m seventeen now, and I can proudly say that every accomplishment I have ever had has been a result of my own determination, a characteristic I’ve adapted from a life of self-sufficiency and rejection. Because of my father’s addiction, I’ve grown to be the independent woman I am today. I can say with pride that every ounce of success in my life is my own doing and nobody else’s. And for that, I’m grateful.