Where Is The “Fun” In “Dysfunctional”?

by NATALIE STEINACHER
edited by ANDREW HICKS

Having a family member with a mental illness is one thing. Most can handle that. You just roll with the punches and deal with it when the person’s issues pop up. After all, it’s not their fault; it’s a chemical imbalance in the brain. But it’s much harder to roll with a family member whose mental illness was brought on by their own doing.

My biological dad was a bisexual heroin and cocaine addict, pill-popping Mexican gangsta. Now, as a result of his lifestyle, he is a bipolar methadone addict who is HIV positive, has borderline multiple-personality disorder and is still a pill popper.

No, before anyone asks, I was NOT raised by this man. He was too busy raving and chasing chicks with dicks and poppin’ caps in people’s asses to be a full-time dad. I guess kids cramped his O.G. lifestyle. (O.G. stands for Original Gangsta, for those of you not familiar with Dr. Dre’s The Chronic.)

If you sense some sort of disdain in my writing, you are right. I have a very negatively biased view of my biological dad, a.k.a. sperm donor. I’ve tried to “be there” for him — like he wasn’t for me and my brother — because he is dying of AIDS. I figured I had no time to be mad; just roll with it, and be happy for the time he is here.

So after 12 years of him being here, I am a little pissed that, a) the more I learn of this man, the more I’m disgusted by him, and, b) if I would have known he would live this long, I would have let his ass have it when he first came back into my life, when I was 19, after 17 years of him being nowhere to be found.

All that aside, I let him live with me when he had no place to go. When he did get an apartment, I went to his house three days a week and cooked, cleaned and ran errands for him. After awhile, he offered to pay me for that “service” if I would give him some money every time I get paid, so he’d have money for bills.

Well, after awhile, that money for bills became money for pills, and I no longer felt comfortable being in the house with him. He is a 58-year-old teenager. He still lives like a 16-year-old boy, just without the random boners, cracking voice and acne.

I quit working for him today. Now he might just treat me like his daughter and not his employee/servant. And, by looking at me as his daughter again, hopefully he will want nothing to do with me and leave me alone like he did before.

I wrestled with the idea of quitting, because I don’t ever want to be anything like that man. I felt for awhile that quitting meant I was giving up on him, but after seeing him sell some of his pills right in front of me and my kids the other day, I just don’t give a damn anymore.

I know that we all try to screw up our children as little as possible, but at this point I am  convinced that a “functional” family does not exist. Every family has a relative they would prefer to keep hidden. Look around. If it looks like your family doesn’t have one, guess what — it’s YOU!

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