When Something No Longer Serves You, Let It Go

My father is a heroin junkie. As a little girl, I remember crying because I didn’t understand why he never called to say happy birthday or sent a Christmas present or even came to visit. To this day, I only have a handful of memories spent with him. He taught me how to make a pipe out of a carrot, he told me to never use needles and he often called me Mickey, although I never understood why. It’s entirely possible that he just couldn’t remember my name. You know, normal father - daughter bonding moments, right? (insert eye roll here).

In my twenties, I found myself curious about him. He was a long haired hippie musician who was quite smart, handsome and talented. He was very charming and would have made something of himself if it wasn’t for the drugs. So, I went to find him. Every few years I would fly out to British Columbia and look for him. Sometimes I would find him, usually higher than an episode of Intervention, and listen to him ramble about the power of 3’s and the force of the moon. Once in awhile he would blow my mind by saying something so profound and then finish it off with repeating something like, “ripple, stream, bank, river, the world is a circle man”, huh? He was an incredible musician and would play music for me and tell me stories of his haunted guitars. It was fascinating yet also horrifying to watch him. What characteristics did I get from him? Certainly my tendencies towards addiction (thanks dad), my creativity and the colour of my skin. But what else? Who was he and what happened in his life for him to choose this path?

Addicts live with an extreme amount of shame and I wanted to let him know that I forgave him. I hadn’t heard from him in years, since he no-showed to my wedding (which he had invited himself to and to be honest, I was relieved when he didn’t show up). Once again I found myself on the coast, knocking door to door to see if I could find him. And I did. I had a phone number! Unlike many trips out before, he actually answered this time and we agreed to meet for supper on the terms that he would be sober.

I pulled up to the restaurant and looked around. I didn’t see him at first but noticed two homeless people standing in front of my car as they started to approach me. I figured they were going to ask for change so I looked in my purse and unrolled my window. “Hey Mickey.” Oh my god, it was him. He still had long hair down to his waist, but what used to be full wavy black hair was now thin and grey greasy strands. He smiled. He was missing most of his teeth. He walked with a cane and had aged at least a million years since I had seen him last. He was high as fuck.

What shocked me the most was the person with him. His new girlfriend. A twenty-something junkie who’s pock marked face and dilated pupils told me that the drugs had also caught up with her. She was wearing over sized black clothes and a hat, her long hair was just as scraggly as his. The way she jerked and moved her body and twitched her jaw was a clear sign of either meth or crack use. She gave me a hug and I immediately wanted to shower, burn all of my clothes and get checked for lice and/or scabies.  There hasn’t been many times in my life where I had no idea what to say, but this was one of them. I was speechless and disgusted.

Dinner was a nightmare. I have never been so embarrassed in my life. I tried asking questions to find more about my father’s life and what got him to where he was. His answers were scattered and he couldn’t sit still. At one point he did a summersault in the middle of the restaurant. Why? I have no idea. I asked him why he never showed up to my wedding, he replied without any shred of remorse “oh you know, something came up”. His girlfriend then mistook a pen on the table for a crack pipe and continued with her unnatural body twitches. If I only could have recorded that dinner, it would have been the poster video on why one shouldn’t do drugs.

As I watched these two twitch their way through probably what was their first meal in days, I realized that I gained nothing from this relationship. I never had and I never would. I realized this with no anger or resentment, just as a fact. If something is no longer serving you, it’s time to let it go. For years I thought I could attempt some sort of relationship with this person, hell, I even used to think he was kind of cool. But he wasn’t cool. He wasn’t a free loving, tree hugging hippie musician. And I am sure he hadn’t even experienced a true emotion for the past decade with the amount of drugs running in his system. He was now just a drug addict. I looked across the table at a stranger who I happen to share DNA with and I knew this would be the last time I saw him. 

It turns out, I don't need him to answer the questions I have about where I come from and why he never chose me. I come from my mother. He may never have shown up, but she sure as fuck did. Any further questions I have about myself can really only be answered by one person anyways. Myself. 

It’s unfortunate that I will never experience what it might be like to have a father but it’s more unfortunate that he will never experience the love of a daughter. I can no longer put energy in to that relationship. He is just toxic (literally and figuratively, he is basically 95% formaldehyde at this point) and I never feel good after I see him or speak with him, so why continue? I know for sure that I am responsible not only for the energy I put out, but also for the energy I let in to my life. I choose to let go of all things (including people, places and habits) that no longer serve me in a positive way. I have no time or energy for anything else. We have that choice. How cool is that?

Mackenzie Johnson