My dad started to go to the doctors to get to the “root” of his “migraines”. He was pretty adamant that he really had these migraines and I never knew, and still do not know to this day, whether or not he really knew that his migraines were hangovers or if he was just a really good actor.
My dad went to three different doctors who all prescribed him different medications that all did not work. Since the medications did not work, my dad stuck to his usual remedy – beer and whiskey. It was a never ending cycle. The more he drank, the worse his migraines; the worse his migraines, the more he drank. My dad was getting worse than he ever was before.
This is when he started to blame my mom. I’m sure he blamed my mom before, but now he was blaming her more openly. His favorite story, that he told me on more than one occasion, was that his doctor told him that my mom was the cause of his migraines.
Ever since then, it wasn’t the mass amounts of alcohol that he drank or the annoying customers at work that caused the migraines, it was my mom’s fault…
For reasons I do not know about, but can probably guess, my parents decided to separate about three months after they moved into the new rental house. So, my dad moved into an apartment by himself and my mom and brother stayed at the new house they just moved into.
Around this time, I was having financial problems myself and decided to move into the rental house with my mom and brother. Every so often, my mom would tell me to call my dad or go check on him (he lived a few blocks away). Even though I called my father frequently, she still told me to do these things.
I would always call him, but rarely visited because I did not want to visit him in the state he was in. I went over his apartment only a few times and every time I did go there he was intoxicated or on his way there. Plus, all he wanted to do was talk to me about his relationship problems with my mom and I did not really care to hear about them.
The only good thing that came out of my father moving into an apartment was that he was the sole bread winner and needed a way to pay his bills. This is good because he did go to work every day like clockwork. He would even boast about how he could get through a whole day of work with a giant “migraine”.
Soon enough, my dad’s “migraines” caused him to start missing work, again. This time my dad paid more attention to his company’s attendance guidelines so that another medical leave of absence did not have to become necessary. This lasted until the house my parents owned started to go into foreclosure.
Naturally, my dad took this as another excuse to drink. He claimed he was a “victim” of the trending adjustable rate mortgage that everyone was buying into around the time they bought their house. When it came closer to my parents having to leave their house, more of his excuses were pouring in.
About a month before my parents had to leave their house, my dad took yet another leave of absence. This time was because he had to “prepare” for the foreclosure by doing “paperwork and such” and finding another house. I am actually surprised to say that all of this happened, meaning my parents found a rental house to live in. That took a week.
As for the rest of the month my dad had taken off work, he took full advantage of the couch when my mom was at work. When it was time for my mom to come home from work every day, my dad was very unproductive in helping her get things together. So, to prepare to move, my mom packed up their things and organized a garage sale with very little help from my father. My father, who took off work to get these things done.
Moving day came, I was surprised to see my dad was sober. However, as soon as everything was in the new house, and before a thing was unpacked, the first thing he did was sit on the couch with a glass of whiskey. Some leave of absence to get things done!
After my dad’s “first trip to rehab”, he quickly went back to work. He tried to get back to a “normal” schedule as soon as possible. He obviously was not an alcoholic!
Wait a minute? After years of drinking and months of binge drinking on his “leave of absence”, one three day tour of rehab is what makes him go back to work? After all of his “migraines” and sleepless nights, three days watching other people makes it go away? Everything is back to normal again because “he is not like those other people”? What it looked like was my dad’s “migraine” problem is gone, he can sleep through the night like a baby and can still drink whenever he wants because other people were worse. Right?
The reality of it was that it did not add up! He acted like one minute he was bad enough to go to rehab, the next minute he was too good for rehab. Did not need it, there is not problem at all. I knew better and things do not work like that. What he was trying to do was prove to my mom that he was right, he did not need help and he did not need rehab.
Boy was that an understatement. Going back to work only caused him to complain about “migraines” and how much he hated his job. I bet you can guess where he was every day after work.
Drinking every day is not wrong, it is just a daily routine I guess (sarcastic tone).
While my father was in rehab, my mother had asked me to stop by and get the mail every couple of days. He had went into the rehabilitation facility on a Thursday afternoon, so on Saturday, I stopped by my parents house to pick up the mail. I took the mail into the house, laid it on the table and proceeded to clean up a little bit from where my father had been on his binge.
After I finished cleaning up and was getting ready to leave, I was taken by surprise as my father walked in the front door with a bottle of whiskey in hand. The optimism and hope that I had just a few short days ago, was gone.
He was just as surprised to see me as I was to see him. He didn’t notice my car parked on the street in front of the neighbors’ house. I immediately asked him what he was doing home. His reply was full of stutters as he was trying to come up with an excuse for his failed rehab attempt. He walked over to the kitchen to pour himself a drink as he tried to explain to me why his “recovery” lasted for two days.
“I did not need any help.”
“That place can’t do anything for me, the people that are in there are messed up.”
“You should have seen those people in there, I’m not like that.”
“Those people have problems, I don’t.”
That is when I left him to his whiskey. I was disgusted in the fact that he thought he did not have a problem, yet continued to pour himself a glass as he told me this. I was disgusted because I knew he needed help, yet he still refused to believe it.
On my way home, I called my mom to see if she knew about my dad leaving rehab. She was just as surprised as I was.
In the middle of my father’s medical leave, or vacation, as I called it, my grandmother (who lived out of state) became ill. My mother ended up staying with her for the duration of her recovery, which was about two months. With my mom gone, this left more responsibilities on my father’s lap. This left my father in a state of self pity as he was “incapable” of taking care of the daily chores by himself. At this point, with no one in the house, he started drinking heavily.
My mom became worried about him and called my uncle and I so we could occasionally stop by the house. My mom tried to not involve me at first, but one day she could not get a hold of my uncle. So, I was a little in the dark about what was going on.
The first time I went over there, my father was listening to one sappy country song on repeat, completely drunk at 1:00 in the afternoon. He smelt like whiskey and vomit, his eyes were bloodshot as if he had been crying all night. He then began to tell me stories about his life like he was trying to convince me to be proud of him. He seemed embarrassed that I saw him in his state. He could not stand up, he could not walk, he was slurring his speech.
After a couple of hours of telling me stories about his past, his life and his experiences he told me “your mom wants me to go to rehab, so I’m going to give it a try”. This made me feel a little optimistic as it seemed like he wanted to stop drinking, that he realized he had a problem and was willing to address it. That optimism did not last long.
My father’s story was this: “migraines” came from him having to deal with whining people all day at work. These “migraines” were so bad that they prevented him from sleeping so he had to stay up late so he could drink to get rid of the migraines. From him having to stay up late, he could not wake up in time for work. He basically self diagnosed himself and then self medicated himself with alcohol thinking the alcohol could cure his “migraines”, or so he said.
In my opinion, I feel like there could have been a few realistic explanations for his migraines.
1. He could have had a hangover from a whole night’s worth of drinking.
2. He could have been experiencing symptoms of withdrawal from not drinking all day.
3. He did not have migraines at all and said he did so he could have an excuse to sit down and drink all day.
If I had to place a bet on the reality of the situation, I would say the “migraines” were hangovers and he use the old adage that you need to drink to get rid of a hangover. He told people he had to drink to get rid of the “migraines” so no one would question him and no one would bother him to do anything. This way, he had more free time to drink.
I never knew my father had a problem with “migraines” until about five years ago. My father claimed that these “migraines” were the reason he could not sleep at night. In fact, he claimed that the “migraines” were so bad that could not work.
So, he started taking days off work.
On his days off, he would sleep in and then get back on the couch to drink away his “migraines”. He still stuck to his story that drinking helped get rid of his “migraines”. His story grew into this: the migraines would keep him awake at night (which is why he could not sleep) and he “had” to drink more so he could get rid of the “migraines” so he would be able fall asleep.
I would like to point out that my father worked at a place that had strict and specific attendance policies. So, once he started getting in trouble for taking so many days off, he started using his vacation days one day at a time. His vacation days quickly ran out and my father was running out of ways he could get off work.
This is when he decided take full advantage of his “migraines” and use them as an excuse to take take a medical leave of absence from his job. Funny thing is, he never spoke of “migraines” during his whole four months off of work. Why? I do not know. But, I am pretty sure it was because he had free reign to drink all day…again.
A year and a half after my dad lost his job, he finally found another one. A job that entailed a high level of interaction with the public. I am pointing this out because the year he had off entailed a lot of seclusion from the outside world. The daily interactions with the public made my dad develop anxiety problems.
The anxiety plus the pressure he felt from dealing with the public pretty much guaranteed that he would come straight home from work (from an afternoon shift), right to his favorite chair so he could start drinking right away. Of course he justified this as a way to calm his nerves, I knew better. I knew he missed his days “off” drinking whenever he wanted.
Even though he was back to work, his sleeping habits did not change as he stayed up late because of his “sleeping problem”. So, from this point on, his daily routine included staying up late drinking, sleeping a few hours a night until he had to get ready for work, working with the public and coming home to drink and repeat the cycle again.
This went on for about five years. Then, the “migraines” started.
I stayed under the assumption that my father was a just a “normal guy” until i was around sixteen or seventeen years old. I believe that it was during my junior year of high school when I started to really think something was wrong.
Around this time, my dad lost his job. It seemed that everything during this time period was a little extra stressful. Of course it was stressful for both my parents as my mom had tried to work as much overtime as she could and my dad would stay indoors all day working on his resume and applying for jobs. Oftentimes, doing all of this with a glass of whiskey right by his side.
As time passed, my dad started to get more used to the “at home life” and slowly started developing new sleeping habits. Sleeping habits that led to new drinking habits. Slowly, he started staying up later and sleeping in later. He would also start to have the occasional mid-day drink when he would watch television.
During this time claimed to have trouble sleeping. He would tell me that he did not know what was wrong, he would just toss and turn until he gave up trying to sleep, so he retreated to the couch. Of course this “retreat” included having a few drinks. He claimed that the drinking helped him to fall asleep.
I feel that I really tried to avoid the issues at home the best that I could. I started working a part time job, I played baseball, spent time with friends and even started a band with my friends. I did all that I could to avoid home like it was the plague.