"Sir you ran that red light back there. I need to see your license.”
“No officer I think you are mistaken. The light was yellow I’m positive”, my dad lied.
“Dad, the officer is right. You did run the red light”. At age 9 I even surprised myself as my father gave me one of those “wait till we get home” looks. He got the ticket. I got the spanking.
I’m not proud of what I am about to say. In fact, I wish I could make it more palatable, but it is what it is. The older I get the more I want to tell it right. No embellishment. No fake sentiment. No “impressive” Christianese to make myself look better. Someone needs to hear this.
He was an alcoholic and now he is dead. I didn’t cry at his funeral. Now I have the need to talk about why.
Lots of books are written about the poison of alcohol on the health of family. But I have yet to read anything about feelings from a child’s point of view while good ‘ole Dad was driving drunk. Someone needs to speak out so I’m going to step up.
Back then there were no seatbelts. Children could ride in the front seat or back. We could stand up, stick our heads out the window, free to move around at will. I didn’t know or care about statistics. I had never seen gross images of car wrecks. Just hearing snippets of car wrecks from adults was all it took to ignite my internal vision maker. At a very young age, I began to build a mental image of the scene of my own gory death.
The image was horrific. Going through the glass ( not the modern safety glass) and being thrown from a car bleeding to death on the side of the road haunted my daily thoughts. Or at times I envisioned a blood soaked car as I witnessed the horror and agony of my family’s death. No violent video games or R rated movies were needed to penetrate the supposed safety and security at home. I had my mind.
I remember asking God to please let me live a good long life. Please protect us. Please make him stop.
I hated him when he was weaving all over the road, begging him to slow down. I even knew when other cars blinked their lights at us, it was because Dad was blinding them with his brights. When I asked him to please don’t blind the drivers, he ignored me with a laugh.
It was Russian roulette and our car was the weapon.. My dad was a potential killer and I could end up being a victim. There was no one who cared, no one to go to, no one to tell. When I reminisce about my childhood that is what I most remember. The torment of being so helpless ,so scared, so unsafe.
My family and friends still don’t get it. If the driver of any car I am in now even has had one drink, all that trauma comes back to me in living color. My hands sweat, my stomach is in knots, and my head hurts from the tension of a migraine. The driver may not be an alcoholic or drunk but that doesn’t matter. My mind plays tricks on me, and I think I will always have issues that make me hyper vigilant. Today they call it Post Traumatic Stress.
“Dad let me drive today please,” almost in tears, it was my wedding day. I needed to go to town for my hair appointment and our lakefront roads were winding and narrow.
“No, you drive too slow and we need to get there quickly.” He had already had a few and it was still morning.
I prayed to God please Lord let me live to see my wedding tonight. I don’t want to die now. The daymare was coming to an end, and I could start a brand new life soon.
God kept me safe. I was able to lead Dad to the Lord before He died, but I will never be able to forgive The Drink. It stole my childhood and no one can give it back.
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