Monday, July 7, 2008

My Dad, My Hero

I could always see when mom was going off the rails. Most kids can even before the other parent notices. Mom’s eyes would become vacant and stare back at me. There was no depth there, everything was reflected back. Anything set her off. After this stage came the sleeping stage. I have never figured out why my dad let mom stay in bed for weeks at a time and think that he could make it better.

HELLO! Your wife and kids mother hasn’t left the bedroom in days. She isn’t getting better! Your middle dtr skips school to stay home and take care of her toddler sister. But hey, your wife is just depressed. It will pass. Be quiet for mom and let her rest.

Oh daddy…..I know you tried to do the right thing.

I love my dad a lot, as previous posts show. When I ask he can’t tell me why he didn’t act sooner. My dad isn’t responsible for my mother’s actions, I know. I have forgiven my dad for not knowing what to do because you know what? He was hurt, too. From my own experience the spouse of someone with a pd goes through hell along with their ill spouse. Some describe it as being a frog in a pot. Slowly the temp is turned up until it’s too late and you’re about to be cooked. That can mean different things for different people.

It meant divorce for my parents, thank you God! Almost 30 years of madness is quite enough. Those 30 years took a lot out of my dad. He trusted the docs to give him sound advice about how to support his wife and my mother. The advice they gave him was to be more supportive, help out more, etc. No one paid attention to the toll it was taking on my dad. I don’t understand how these professionals can honestly think a marriage is so one sided. My mom complained, and I saw this with my own eyes on more than one occasion in family T, and the therapist jumped to attention. How could we as a family help mom? What are some better ways to show mom we respect her? Oh please, that woman didn’t want respect she wanted blind, total, robotic obedience. What could we do to show her that we love her? No thought was given as to what part mom had to play in any situation..

I would ride home from those sessions wondering how the hell mom snowed these people. I mean seriously look at the odds. My mother had 100% odds that she would never have to take responsibility for her actions. Too bad she wasn’t a horse, eh?

In the midst of that was my dad. Trying so hard to be everything to everyone almost wore him out. My dad, the guy who took off halfway across the US as a 20something. He built silos, did welding, etc. My dad, who has dyslexia, yet got his pilots license after hard work. This is the guy who worked almost 100 hours a week when I was kid. He hated his job. He did it for us. He believed and believes in the Midwest credo-work hard, always give 100% and you can’t go wrong. My dad gave up so much for me and my siblings.

Sometimes when I see the little he is left with, I see red. I want to give him those 30 years back. My dad was ripped off by the mental health professionals he trusted so much. He was ripped off my a system that teaches its students how to not face the consequences of their actions. I don’t care about $$$ or things like that, if I had 3 wishes one of them would be to send dad back in time with the knowledge to stay away from his ex wife. I’d stay and watch for a while, trying to see the man I only hear about once in a while. I’d watch him to see if he always had tired eyes. Was his forehead always that lined? What did he do for fun?

So I tell you this-if you think the only casualties of BPD are the children you are dead wrong. The spouse of a personality disordered individual shoulders a heavy burden. It’s a burden they hide and hide well but it’s there. It’s time the mental health community started sharing part of this burden rather than creating a heavier load.

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