A couple weeks ago I decided to give up gluten, dairy and coffee in an effort to cleanse my body of toxins. It’s funny that this story comes from me attempting to rid myself of toxic things. I stumbled upon almond milk and got the idea one morning to mix chocolate almond milk with soy peanut butter (my son is allergic to peanuts so I can’t use the real thing). I blended it with ice for breakfast and took the first drink. I was instantly transported back in time. I was nine years old in the kitchen with my biological dad getting a life lesson on how to make a chocolate peanut butter milk shake.
Vanilla ice cream
I remember him telling me that it had to be vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup ONLY, that chocolate ice cream was unacceptable for this.
I stood there in my kitchen happy as I was recalling this memory.
But like always I began to over think it. I started wondering exactly how many positive memories I had of him. I mean, I have millions of good memories of my (step)Dad, and millions of my mom, but of my biological dad, aside from the ice cream I could only come up with two other happy memories and one of them was tainted by what he did right after it.
The second happy memory was sitting at Pyramid Lake eating those wax soda pop candies with him. You bit the top off and squirted the sugary syrup into your mouth, and then on the last one sometimes we would chew the whole thing up to get all of the flavor out.
The third memory was laying in my grandma’s living room with him coloring. He had bought this giant coloring book of vintage ladies in dresses and brought colored pencils and we sat there coloring for what felt like hours.
This is where the happiness of that morning fades.
Because what I actually remember of that day is not coloring pictures with my biological dad, it is what happened next. While coloring he said he needed a break so we went out on the patio. He then proceeded to cut a line of cocaine (crank? Too young to know the difference) and snort it right in front of me. This actually happened a few times through the day. The last time though I wanted to play too. My grandma had this old weird foam mattress outside on her deck. For some reason if you ran your nails down the mattress powdery residue would flake off. So I collected the residue on a little table, found a small piece of cardboard and scraped it all around the table like I had watched him do, then ran into the house to find my own “straw.” I ended up rolling up a small piece of paper and rushing back out to the patio to attempt to suck the dust up my nose. My dad had brought the phone out onto the patio (no cell phones or cordless phones back then) so he wasn’t really watching me.
Luckily I didn’t entire grasp the whole concept and the paper in my nose made me sneeze and all my powder flew everywhere and then I ended up coughing and choking on what I had sucked up. He was so wrapped up in his phone call that he didn’t even flinch at what I was doing.
For years after I would repeat this little procedure. I would grind up Smartie’s candies into a powder and pretend to cut it up and make perfect little lines. I did it with chalk and other things too. I had no idea what I was doing was wrong. In middle school I crushed up the candies on my desk once and a friend looked over to see it. She immediately freaked out thinking I had actual drugs on me. I was kind of baffled. Being more worldly then me she explained exactly what I was doing and I got pretty upset.
I had always known Rick (bio dad) was on drugs, I guess I just hadn’t realized he was doing them right in my face like that. Or maybe I did, but I chose not to entirely accept that. Either way, the memory of that day became forever tainted. I was pissed off. It would be 5 more years before I would drive to the coroner’s office and get his death certificate and find out just how much drugs were in his system when he died. Let me tell you, that day REALLY RUINED my happy memory.
I realize now as a mom that he didn’t pay very good attention to the memories he was making. That it never occurred to him that snorting drugs in front of me would for sure cancel out every good part of that day.
Similarly to the day he got all coked out and we walked to the park with his dog Peetie. I was having such a great time playing fetch with the dog and playing at the park. Until the dog didn’t fetch the ball right and my dad in a drugged out rage hit the dog with the bat.
For my entire life when I think of Rick the first thing that comes into my head (after his death of course) is him hitting that dog. Not milkshakes, not coloring, not driving my go cart into a window the one time I actually got to drive it, nope. The first thing I think of is him hitting that dog.
It’s a shitty memory.
I hate that memory.
That morning standing in my kitchen by the time I had come full circle of the memories and once again my day was ruined by him. It took over a week to get all of that back out of my system. Here I was trying to purge myself of toxins and I turned right around and filled my head with them. I hate that. I get so angry at that his lifestyle choices still affect me 18 years after his death. I am thirty years old I shouldn’t care about all of this. But I guess the memory, the crazy, the obsessive thinking is part of the legacy he handed down to me.
The milkshake hasn’t tasted as good since that first sip. It’s tasted a little bitter each time I’ve made it since. I wonder if he ever stopped to think about the memories he was making for me.
I doubt it.
For those of you with kids do you think before acting? Are you conscious of the memories you are making? I know I am now.
Now if only I could clean out my own head…and purge my own memories. Does anyone know of a cleanse that works for shitty fathers? If so I’d love to hear it.