Wednesday, August 10, 2011
All in the family...
Riley and I were talking – more like me reminding him that his health is failing. It diverted to him telling me that he can’t help it – it’s not his fault. He doesn’t like beer but he absolutely MUST drink it because he is an alcoholic. So why drink something you don’t even like? Why not drink vodka? He says because he has to drink the beer because he is an alcoholic. He doesn't want vodka because he will die sooner. I know and understand it’s a vicious circle. OK. Nothing new there.
The subject continues to get diverted to the people he will leave in his wake after his death. He doesn’t understand why anyone would care what he does. He feels nothing for the people who claim to be his family. He tells each of them, his daughter, grandson, and the great-grandbabies, that he loves them. But how can that be?? He tells me he has no feelings for them. I truly believe he is incapable of love. He knows he must go through the motions of loving in order to be acceptable in society – but the real feelings are just not there. I doubt he has ever truly loved anyone – ever – except MAYBE, possibly, his first wife.
I do understand that in Riley’s childhood things like the word “love” just never came up. His childhood was filled with useful, practical, essential things. Love wasn’t on the list. He learned at an early age that love wasn’t a necessity – and in fact – it was a bit of a bother.
Family – according to Riley -- his family is his brother and his oldest son (my stepson) because they share his bloodline. I guess his daughter (actually his step-daughter from before her first birthday) and grandson hold no importance to him. I understand why he doesn’t consider me as family – but the people who have looked after him, cared for him, cleaned up his vomit and poop, picked him up off the floor, provided a safe haven for him, and defended him when others put him down – those people are of little to NO importance. He has no feelings for us – except maybe contempt for trying to get him sober and, by default, keep him alive.
Riley says he has no choice but to die via alcohol, although he claims alcohol will not kill him. I tell him that’s not true. He will die of alcoholism and he does have a choice. He could try detox one more time. He could try rehab one more time. He could try sobriety one more time. He could out live all of us people that he has so much contempt for. He could possibly live long enough to repair his relationship with his oldest son. He could…. But he’s an alcoholic and can’t see past that.
He repeats that he chooses death over sobriety.
So one of the people he cares about is his brother. I like his brother very much. He is a fine man who sees clearly what Riley is doing to himself. He has grieved and suffered while watching Riley destroy his life. This man’s wife has held his hand and offered comfort and support. The big difference between Riley and his brother is that his brother truly loves his wife and children. His brother has the ability to feel emotion. I’m not sure if it was always that way for him, but his wife fits him perfectly and their marriage is strong and loving. It shows when they are together. And the love they share for their three boys is also very obvious. It makes me wonder if Riley’s brother grew up in the same house as Riley.
Riley’s oldest son stopped talking to him many, many years ago. He wants nothing to do with him and refuses any contact what so ever. This young man has been burned so many times by alcoholism – his mother – his brother – his step-brother -- all have died as a result of alcoholism. I can understand perfectly why he would not want to have anything to do with his father. Never mind the fact that his father abandoned him when he was just a young boy. He has a well-deserved axe to grind.
It is interesting that Riley denies abandoning any of his children. Well, he paid child support. Is that the same thing? Riley never played catch with any of the kids, never took them camping, never took them to the museum nor did he ever attend any functions that included the kids playing in the band or singing in the choir. Except --- Alea – she and Riley had a special bond because she was always pushing the envelope. They were each others alibi. They protected each other. He taught her to lie and sneak around. The result for me was the constant fear of what was happening to my daughter as she took those skills into her very rebellious teenage years. And now, he says he has no feelings for her. She is not really his blood therefore she is not his family.
I’m struggling. Everyday it’s more and more of a struggle to keep in mind that my motivation was to protect my daughter from taking on a drunk who has no concern for what damage he may cause her life. The important thing for him is that he has someone to take care of him as he dives into alcoholic suicide. It really doesn’t matter who. He just needs someone to find the body.
at 7:22 AM