Since November 2019, I’ve been in the throes of caregiving for my parents – including my dad, with whom I’d been estranged for nearly 10 years.
This all started first with my mother, when she declared she was done with homeownership and wanted to move near us on the Westside.
I had to turn my attention to my dad. It wasn’t sustainable for my mom to carry the house and rent somewhere else. But I didn’t know what would happen to my dad. I didn’t like it, but I had to dive in head first to deal with him.
Many of you know that I was estranged from my father for nearly ten years. Worrying about my father, and the devastating impacts of gambling addiction on our family, was ruining me emotionally. With the help of a therapist, I located resources, offered to pay for them, and gave him a hard deadline to accept it. I stated specifically if he did not accept, we would become estranged. He blew it. So estrangement started.
Estrangement was good for me. It felt taboo at first, but then I began owning my truth, especially after finding mentors who were empathetic and shared in the sorrow in this corner of my life. I became comfortable telling more people, in a straightforward manner, that I was estranged from my dad because he was a gambling addict who refused treatment. In the intervening years, I was able to strengthen my marriage, secure a career in public service, buy a home, have a kid, and make more friends. In other words, I was able to build a life, the kind of life that I imagined I could have but seemed so far off, even when my father was at his most destructive.
One tactic my father has deployed to stall any kind of movement on the housing front was his need for surgery, including day-of transportation. My mom set her boundaries clearly and said no. After a lot of discussion with my husband and my therapist, I agreed to step in and said yes. This blog catches up my friends and loved ones on my journey.