Hi guys! My name is Megan, and I come from the mean streets of Pittsburgh, PA, but now I live in State College, PA, studying communications at Penn State. I had a pretty good life growing up. I lived in a nice neighborhood in the city with my mom and older brother, but my father was often absent from our lives.
My parents separated when I was 5 years old (they never got officially divorced, and when I asked my mom about it she said it was because it was too expensive to divorce him, and chuckled a little). When I was young, it seemed like I saw my dad a lot, but as I got older, I realized I hardly ever saw him. In fact we would go months and months without even hearing a word from him. Every time the phone would ring, my brother and I would race to go and grab it; we wanted it to be our dad (at least I did).
I was often told that I was just like my dad, and it’s kind of hard to hear that when you really don’t know him. In the 6th grade, I remember my dad’s sister going on about how people in our family have this rare blood type, so the next day after school, while my mom was at work, I looked through the drawer where she kept all of our medical papers to see if I had the same blood type. But instead, I found a letter. Anyone that knows me, knows that I am an extremely nebby (for those of you not familiar with Pittsburghese, it means nosey) person, so I had to read that letter. It forever changed my life.
Because of that letter, I gained a new perception of my father. I had held my dad up on a pedestal, and I loved when we got to see him. I had him wrapped around my little finger, like any daddy’s girl. All I had to say was, “Please daddy,” and give him a kiss on the cheek. But in that letter, I found out that my father was a drug addict, former convict, and a cheater. How could the man who I held so high, be all of those terrible things?
No one had ever told me why my dad was in and out of my life; I had to find out on my own. My mother never brought it up, and she still doesn’t talk about his struggles. When I asked her why she never said anything, she said it wasn’t her place to tell (I disagree). My father never mentioned his struggles directly either; he would just say he made bad decisions. He never mentioned going to jail, but he did mention that drugs are bad.
Me being the nebnose (some more Pittsburghese for yinz) that I am, I did some research on my own and found out that my dad went to jail in the early 80s on drug charges (possession and intent to sell), and again in the early 2000’s (D.U.I. and possession). I needed answers. Another family member told me about how my dad was on drugs in his late teens and early 20s. He got in some bad fights and was going down a scary path. He did a stint in a prison in Greensburg, PA, and after that he sobered up, met my mom and had two kids. Then in the early 2000s, he broke his nose at work, got hooked back on pain killers, and that was that.
My dad loved my brother and me. I know this from the bottom of my heart. I know he didn’t choose drugs over us, because I know that it’s a disease that he couldn’t overcome, even though he tried. My dad lost his battle with drug addiction on August, 21, 2013.
Addiction and drug abuse are complicated, so there’s more to this story… I’ll save the rest for later.
If this story sounds familiar, you aren’t alone. Did you know that in the U.S., one out of four people under age 18 is exposed to alcoholism and drug dependence in their very own family? Learn more about When a Parent Uses.