Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dad's an asshole- Part 2

If you didn't read part 1, please do so before continuing. Otherwise you will absolutely think I'm a horrible person.

So. My dad. Where to begin. I guess I'll start with the last day of my vacation. My dad doesn't have what you would call a permanent residence. He never has, really. There was that one time a few years ago when he rented a $1400 a month, 3 bedroom apartment and filled it with the following 3 pieces of "furniture": 1. inflatable mattress, 2. desk, and 3. inflatable couch (I swear. I can't make this shit up). The majority of the rooms stayed empty until he was evicted 3 months later. But, quite honestly, he talks about how much he loved living there all the time. He's spent the last 30 years hopping around between motels, his car (when he has one), rooming houses and the homes of unwilling relatives. But that empty 3 bedroom apartment was his dream. Now before you go feeling sorry for him, don't forget about Part 1....all of this shit is his own fault. Really.

For about the last 6 months, my father had been living with my brother's ex-girlfriend and her son, my nephew Tyler. They've been struggling financially since she had left her boyfriend (not my brother- they have been broken up for years) and she thought my dad could help her out. He needed a place to stay after all, and she really needed the money. So he agreed to help her out with the rent and moved in. The first 3 months went well in the sense that he was able to pay his share of the rent each of those months due to a lucky streak with the lottery. It went downhill after that.

He couldn't pay his rent after that but continued living there. She was obviously frustrated, but figured at least she could get him to help her out and babysit for her younger child on the days (which was most days, honestly) he didn't go to work. He thought she was unreasonable and bitched incessantly about how annoying and inconvenient it was for him to have to help her out while he lived there rent free. It had been coming to a head for quite some time and as I planned my 12 day vacation and considered my options for dog sitters, I realized it would be the perfect solution for us both. I would get my dog sitter, and my poor ex sister-in-law would get a break from my dad.

So vacation came and went, and as we planned our return home, I emailed my father to remind him to pick us up at the airport (he doesn't have a car at the moment, and I left my car with him for his use). He emailed me back promising he would be there. And then he included a little piece of information that he thought I might find relevant. "I got kicked out of C.'s house- all my stuff is at your house". Oh. Great. Of course, Rodolfo's first reaction was to ask if my father thought he would be staying with us, and to be sure I clarified that point for him.

So once again, before you think I'm an asshole, let me explain something. My dad used to have a car. He also had a job that he went to at least mostly regularly that was about an hour's drive from where he was living. When his car died and he couldn't afford to get it fixed, he made a show of how expensive and time consuming public transportation to his job was going to be, but he kept up the charade for a week or two before he stopped going to work all together. Ironically, he had pitifully explained to his boss about how many jobs he had previously lost because of issues that made it hard for him to get to work regularly when he first started this job and the guy fell for his sad sad story and told him he would be understanding of that, and that he would let him work whenever he could show up. To say my dad abused this guy's kindness would be like saying Hitler had a slight distaste for Jews.

Anyway, my point is that despite never going to work, he is still welcome to get in a day's pay whenever he can make it there. So you would think that during the week and a half that I was gone, while he had full use of my car, he would have gone to work as much as possible. Every single day, in fact. The reality? He went twice (also note that I left on a Wednesday, not a weekend, so there were potentially 7 days he could have worked while I was gone). His reason? That he wouldn't have had gas to pick me up from the airport if he went to work every day, of course! Oh, and did I forget to mention how, on the way home from picking us up, he pointed out that he had put 700 miles on my car and wondered aloud how that was even possible when he didn't even go to work? 700 miles. My car has a small tank. He had to fill my gas tank 2 and a half times to go that far. I knew better than to leave him with a full tank of gas, but I did leave a little over a quarter of a tank when we left. I came back to a tank that was just a sliver above empty. The airport is a 25 minute drive and I spent the drive home wondering when we were going to sputter to a stop on the highway because we had run out of gas.

Another important piece of information here? My dad is on unemployment. He owes $50,000 in back child support to my mom and hasn't paid or filed taxes in 15 years. But somehow he gets unemployment. I just wanted to clear that up before anybody was like "but Jaclyn, he isn't even working, how would he ever have money to fill your gas tank?".

He didn't ask me if he could stay at my house right away, despite never even offering to remove his stuff that was strewn all over my living room. He had already guilted my sister into a few days at her place. When that invitation ran out, I knew I'd be screwed though.

I should also probably tell you that he has been babysitting my daughter since I came home from vacation. My sister informed me a month or two ago that I would need to find a new sitter come June, and he took the opportunity to see if he could take the job. That was another interesting email I got while on vacation. "I talked to A. and she says she doesn't mind if I watch Caitlyn when you come back because I really need the money.". That was truly unexpected. Somehow, while I was away, the two of them had gotten together and decided without my consent what would be best for my child.

I can see how A. got guilted into it agreeing to that ... she knew as well as I did that I would end up getting screwed at some point or another and promised to be my back-up when the day inevitably came when he realized he couldn't survive on what I would pay him and he needed to find another job. I'm fairly certain, in his mind, that he was going to somehow stay on unemployment as long as humanly possible and watch Caitlyn during the day and get some bullshit night job to fill in the gaps. I agreed begrudgingly, mostly because I knew he would realize quite quickly all the reasons it wouldn't work and I could continue to search for a permanent solution while A. backed me up. It only took a week and a half for him to complain to A. about how this wasn't going to work and for her to pass along that message, much to mine and Rodolfo's relief.

The babysitting thing is pretty relevant to this next part. Obviously, he has been at my house every day (it's not like he's watching her at HIS house... oooh, sorry, too far? Come on people, he DESERVES it!). He mills around too long because he has nowhere to go, even after both me and Rodolfo have been home for hours. A.'s guilty conscience wore off pretty quickly- dad had been in a "no gambling" stage for about 3 weeks and when he broke down and bought lottery tickets with half his unemployment check she told him he couldn't stay anymore.

This all went down last weekend, and he called me Sunday night to ask what time he should be at my house on Monday morning. I told him that Rodolfo would be off and that he needn't come at all. So imagine my surprise when my phone rang at 7am and it was him, standing outside my house. I left for work and didn't even bother to ask why he was there. I knew why. He had nowhere else to go. Apparently, he had spent the previous night wandering around the local Wal-Mart and came to my house to sleep (another hilarious aside to this story- I DON'T HAVE A COUCH RIGHT NOW! We threw ours out and aren't bothering to buy another one till we move in a couple of months- so he slept, sitting up, in our computer chair) without even bothering to ask myself or Rodolfo if that was ok. Rodolfo awoke an hour or so later. I don't even know if he realized my dad was there until he went out into our living room.

This week has continued in much the same way. He has nowhere to go, so he wanders around all night, then shows up super early to my house so he can sleep (in the computer chair) before watching Caitlyn. So then last night he calls me and I don't answer. He left a voicemail which I didn't bother to listen to. I knew what it was going to be. He waited 10 minutes or so and calls me again. This time, I stupidly picked up my phone.

Dad: Hi Jaclyn. Can I sleep in your car tonight?
Me: Well dad, I really can't have you sleeping outside my house, the landlord lives right downstairs (what I'm actually THINKING? Are you FUCKING kidding me? You have to be fucking joking. You are a pathetic excuse for a human being).
Dad: Oh, I wouldn't sleep in front of your house! I was going to take your car somewhere else. I'll park in a lot somewhere and sleep.
Me: I don't know if that's a good idea either, I wouldn't want my car to get towed or anything. I'll have to ask Rodolfo and call you back.
Dad: No, forget it then. Don't ask Rodolfo (Rodolfo is notoriously frustrated by his stupidity and shows no pity when he tells him no for something).

It was raining last night, and I felt bad because I had given my dad whatever has been making me sick and giving me a nasty sore throat for the last week. I asked Rodolfo to let him stay the night at our house and he caved.

It's all so very frustrating. It's a constant burden. As a child I didn't understand why his family didn't help him more- why they didn't give him a place to stay, and I always felt horrible when he told me he had nowhere to go. As an adult I understood quite a bit more- he's unpleasant and depressing at best, and it's almost as though he enjoys being a burden on people. And he's endlessly argumentative. You can't make a suggestion. You can't tell him any idea you have that might help him, because then he will deliberately not take your suggestion because he feels that, despite living in your home for free, you shouldn't be telling him how to live his life. And then there's the fact that you aren't free in your own home. You feel constantly on edge, constantly annoyed by his sloppiness and gross habits and his need to fill absolutely every second with endlessly depressing conversation. And he bitches.

This isn't the first time he's stayed with me or my sister. The last time, both invitations were abruptly withdrawn when we compared notes and realized he was talking shit about both of us to each other. He would complain to me how boring it was to watch her husband play video games all the time. He would talk about the fact that they fought a lot and seemed to always be having marital problems. And, as it would turn out, he told them how much he hated how gross it was that my couch that he was sleeping on at the time always had dog hair on it. And how my pets were always in his face wanting to be pet and he hated it. Oh, and apparently we fought all the time too. And he somehow felt justified throwing his two cents in when we did disagree and openly expressed his opinions on our private marital discussions that he was absolutely not being intentionally included in (our apartment is quite small, so he would hear us when we would talk or fight about anything and try to join the conversation... and then tell my sister and her husband about it).

The part that is the most bewildering to me, the most unbelievable, is that he would put all this on his own children. The choices our parents made come into an unexpected perspective as we become parents ourselves. With my mother, my deep love and admiration only grow as I can understand a little better the nuances of the choices she had to make. I can truly try to understand how difficult it must have been for her. I can look at my own child and know how unbelievably lucky I am to be able to give her not just what she needs, but what she wants and what I want for her. To know, as her first Christmas approached, that I will almost definitely never have to prematurely tell her that Santa Claus doesn't exist, as my mother had to with us, because I can't afford to buy her presents and I don't want her to feel like she wasn't good enough or deserving of presents (to my mom's extreme credit, she DID pull out a miracle that year, as she always seemed to, and we had a great Christmas, like we always did). Because I can understand that, as my mother must have felt about her own children, I feel like I'm receiving a gift from Caitlyn every single day that I get to look at her face and see her smile and watch her learn and grow. And I always want my daughter to know what a gift she is to me.

And as my love and appreciation for my mom grows, so does my resentment and bitterness toward my father. Because his choices? Those I simply cannot understand. Despite his explanations and assertations that, really and truly, he meant it all for the best, I simply can't see it. I can't see through the selfishness of his choices. I can't see through the illogical train of thought that ends up in exactly the same place every time he plays it out. And that place is at the doorstep of a frustrated and unwilling relative, who is working hard, every day for everything they have and is expected to feel pity for someone who expects the world on a silver platter. He expects the dream of the lottery to be his saving grace. And he truly believes that one day, despite all evidence to the contrary, that it's all just going to work out for him. Because obviously, he isn't doing anything wrong! Just bad luck, of course!

Probably the worst part about all of this though, is how it makes my mom feel. She can't understand why we always end up caving and helping him out. We all know by now that the cycle is just going to repeat itself and she just can't comprehend why we always feel guilty enough to help anyway. I've tried to explain it to her more than once. I've tried to tell her, and I'll say it again: MOM- It's because YOU raised me better than that! You taught me love and compassion and how to be a good person.

She's said it to me before how it hurts her to see us help him. She somehow believes it makes them equals in my mind and the minds of my siblings. Like we would do the same for him that we would for her. And let me clear up that point right now. We are all aware that we do too much for him. And I don't like helping him. I don't get any joy from giving him that help. I don't feel like I'm doing the right thing and I'd prefer he not even be around when he's in that kind of situation. And then there is my mom. For her, I would do anything. She could stay with me every day for the rest of my life and she would be welcome and she would bring happiness and joy and light to my life. I wouldn't have arguments with my husband about whether or not she could stay another night. He has said, on more than one occasion "it would be different if it were you MOTHER". Even he knows my dad isn't anywhere near her equal! There is no comparison. I know he doesn't deserve our help. And I know she deserves more than I can ever give back to her. So, what I will try to do is give it back to Caitlyn. I think that would make her happiest anyway. I don't ever want her to think any of us ever compare her, on ANY level to him. There's simply no contest. She has to know that.

So am I the only one with an asshole parent? I can't be, right?

5 comments:

AKD said...

I have a dick dad, but for totally different reasons - but your poor childhood makes mine pale in comparison.

My dad knocked up my mom in college after a few months of dating, so they got married. He'd been pretty well off growing up, and so (unbeknownst to Mom) he was addicted to drugs. He refused to work, would take money from his parents. Mom would try to wake him up to go to work, and he'd beat her. You'd think he could at least take care of my brother and I, but no, he was too doped up during the days to do anything.

So, eventually we left when he hit my brother and I for the first time. He was in and out of jail for drugs, theft, forgery, you name it. He finally went to prison for a couple of years when I was in middle school (Mom had remarried a wonderful man at this point). When he got out, he was living in basically a flop house, and there was a fire. Since he was doped up, he didn't get out - and so he got severe brain damage from the smoke. He's now living in assisted living because he's the equivilant of a 12-year-old. Whenever my grandma passes away, I have to take custody of him, because my brother, half-sister, and ex step-sister either don't want anything to do with him or aren't responsible enough to do so... and I take pity on him for the shell of a person he is.

I am so sorry for your situation, and the situation he's putting Rodolfo and Caitlyn in, as well.

Nadine said...

Is it bad that I read AKD's comment and thought "wow, if he could just get arrested and go to jail, that would solve a lot of problems right now."

I'm sorry about your situation also, AKD, that is awful :(

Nadine said...

Also... somehow it's comforting to know you're not alone when it comes to having fucked-up family/parents.

AKD said...

You guys are both amazing. Thank you so much. It's shocking how we all deal with such insanity, isn't it?

Front Desk Ninja said...

So I'm.... seven months behind in reading this, but, my night's been an absolute shit fucking night and I'm sorry for the sailor/trucker-like cursing.

I read your blog when I need to smile, because I *heart* you that goddamn much. You, Noa and Jen make my nights manageable.

I also now feel like a complete asshole.

My dad was (is, technically) a huge tool. I've hidden secrets from his family for him, dealt with his hippie bullshit, been the adult since I could reach the stove dials.

I was 19 when he told me I was a whore who didn't deserve to be around.
I was 19 the last time I spoke to him with any amount of respect, and 20 when I talked to him last.

His life, his choices, his blatant manipulation of his mother and other family members (who, because I made a choice to help me be less insane and live healthier, have disowned me. Seriously. Not even Facebook for 90% of them) were something I couldn't tolerate/handle/deal with without a lottttt of alcohol.

I think your mom deserves a Nobel Peace Prize, or something equally as awesome.
I think you deserve hugs, inappropriate boob gropes and kudos for being a way better daughter than your dad deserves.