Although previously he made a fool of himself, the one true moment involved my alcoholic father ruining our evening at my cousin’s wedding.
It was my younger cousin’s wedding, and we had grown up together. Although not close as adults, we were very close as kids. In fact, my sister told me that he had really looked up to me as a man that chose his own path and didn’t follow the family’s drinking culture. He even asked me to be a groomsman, which surprised the heck out of me.
Anyway, I had told my father that this is an important wedding and he needs to take it easy. Literally told him to not get blasted. He scolded me for telling my own father what to do.
As the day proceeds, things go well. During the reception everybody is drinking casually, dancing, having a great time. My sister and I are not. We’re being as vigilant as possible; one eye on our dad at all times. Is he at the bar again? Where is he now? How drunk does he look?
Things continue to go well. My sister takes my dad’s keys, passes them to me, and says she’s going back to the hotel. I say no problem. The crowd dwindles down to close family and friends, and I’m dancing with my girlfriend. I look over to my father and happen to see him getting introduced to the bride’s aunt by the bride’s father. I can’t hear them, but all of a sudden the bride’s father has his fist back and is about to punch my dad in the face.
Luckily a bunch of guys gets between them. I’m immediately in police mode: grab my dad, apologize to everybody, and drag him out. He can’t understand why everybody is upset. He can barely speak. We get outside, and he asks for his keys, and I do my best not to lose it. My girlfriend follows us quietly.
I tell her to walk ahead of us. I am literally carrying him by the neck of his suit. He cannot walk and is blabbering about how unfair the world is and asking why this happens to him. At that point, I feel like a child. My emotions are bubbling to the surface, and the damaged kid inside me is hurting bad, but I am too focused on controlling the situation to let him take over. My girlfriend walks quietly ahead, knowing that I am in control mode and trying to just get this over with. She respected the situation and kept her distance.
Strangers in cars are laughing at me and my dad. I am so ashamed. We get back to the hotel finally and get in an elevator. At this point, I am lecturing my dad and yelling. I know he has no idea what I’m saying because he’s so far gone, but I can’t help it. As we exit into the hallway, he stops and exclaims that he’s going back to the wedding. At this point, I am threatening to knock him out and call the cops myself. He doesn’t move.
My girlfriend sees me breaking and steps up. She yells at him to go back to his room repeatedly. I’m immediately blown away at the courage of her. Because of her, he finally agrees, and I take him back to his room while my girlfriend goes back to ours. I try to tell him I love him; he needs to stop drinking, etc. He’s too drunk to understand anything. I close the door, sit outside his room and cry my face off. I sit there for 30 minutes to make sure he doesn’t try to leave. I have completely converted to the damaged fat kid that grew up with an alcoholic father.
I get myself together and go back to the reception hall and apologize to my cousin, his bride, and both families individually. On my way back to the hotel, I cry more. By the time I get back to my room, my girlfriend is waiting and worried.
She comforted me quietly while I cried. She reminded me that I did the best I could and that she was proud of how I handled the situation. At that moment, I realized she was my true family. She respected my space when I needed it, defended and supported me when I was weak and made me feel whole when I was broken in the span of an hour or so. I realized I had a partner, not a girlfriend. That was it for me.