Recovering Father’s Day
When Addiction Affects Dads
Father’s day is often a treasured day – full of specially planned events all in honor of Dad. Lovingly made – but often horribly tasting – breakfasts in bed, handmade clay pieces that resemble a moose – but are actually meant to be a picture of you, gag gifts a-plenty, all crafted to celebrate the person who carries the world on their shoulders.
But sometimes, when facing addiction, the world has come crashing down. Life has become unmanageable. In some families, it is Dad who has let you down. In others, it is the child who has let Dad down. In both stories, the pain is the same. Father’s Day opens old wounds and recalls trauma of abuse and sadness. From either side of the tale, Father’s Day is an emotional struggle. A struggle wrought with confusion, resentment, and pain. Often those raised in the presence of addicted dads endure a lifetime of suffering, badly buried beneath the callouses of life. It’s a brutal and unbroken cycle that without effective drug and alcohol treatment, inflicts one generation after another.
For the addict dad, they are likely to spend another afternoon drowning out and blacking out their sorrows in the bottom of a bottle or the next line to be sniffed. Loved ones are ignored out of pain on Father’s Day. Once again, the addicted fathers turn away to instead seek their fix in the company of enablers, turning to their substances to mask the pain and regret they’ve sown. Celebrating the love and joy of fatherhood is forgotten, or if you look deeper down, turned away because either father or child feels undeserved and unworthy.
How can there be celebration when addiction clouds up so much of the joy of the day? How can we spend time together to celebrate a relationship, when that relationship has been shattered by the disease of addiction?
There is a Japanese practice called Kintsugi, which takes shattered pieces of broken pottery and making them beautiful again by filling the cracks with gold. “By repairing broken ceramics it’s possible to give a new lease of life to pottery that becomes even more refined thanks to its “scars”. The Japanese art of kintsugi teaches that broken objects are not something to hide but to display with pride…When a bowl, teapot or precious vase falls and breaks into a thousand pieces, we throw them away angrily and regretfully. Yet there is an alternative, a Japanese practice that highlights and enhances the breaks thus adding value to the broken object. It’s called kintsugi (金継ぎ), or kintsukuroi (金繕い), literally golden (“kin”) and repair (“tsugi”).
It is this practice that teaches not to throw away the broken, but to celebrate healing, recognizing both that the shattered can be made beautifully new, and also that the new piece, though it has scars, has a resiliency it never had before. It can be recovered.
Just because a life has been shattered by the pain of addiction doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Encourage the fathers in your life to take the next brave step towards healing their family by seeking out healing for themselves. Encourage the children in your life who are struggling with addiction to know that while you no longer fund their habits and lifestyles, you will willingly walk this hard road of recovery with them, bandaging the scrapes of their heart and mind, as you bandaged the scrapes on their elbows and knees. Let this Father’s Day bring the hope restoration and resiliency of healthy family relationships.
Love can be the “golden thread” where there is anger or estrangement. New memories can begin to heal a painful past. Pursuing and participating in treatment can help father and his children can build a bridge between the broken relationships – a bridge of new resiliency and more precious than before, because each member of the family chose to be strong for each other.
Make this Father’s Day one to really celebrate, because it is the first of many rooted in recovery. If you or a loved one is struggling, take the steps towards treatment to recover Father’s Day for your family.
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