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Can an absent father lead to addiction?

My addiction was directly correlated to an incident that happened between my father and me. When I was 12 years old, I had climbed a large tree in my parent’s backyard, where our house was located in Temple City, CA. I was standing on a branch approximately 15 – 20 feet above the ground. I had been playing with a wrist rocket, which was a slingshot that was carried in a pocket and folded out to attach to your wrist to shoot a rock or pellet. One of my neighbor friends was over and we had been shooting various targets in the yard. All of a sudden, he burst through the gate and took a shot at me as if he were recreating a police scene he had seen. Of course, the chances of him hitting me were nearly impossible because he did not aim, he was on a “dead-run” and had just came flying through the gate. He let the metal pellet fly and it hit me squarely in the neck. I fell off of the limb landing beneath me onto a large bush, which was growing next to this large 60-foot tall tree in our backyard.

When I finally hit the ground, I noticed a very large stick was poking out of my pants; I also realized that I was bleeding. As I fell, I snapped off a branch limb, which pierced through my upper thigh going straight through my leg. As I lay there screaming my friend ran home fearing he may have killed me. My father came outside, scooped me up and placed me in the family station wagon. He raced me off to the emergency room, at Arcadia Methodist Hospital. I remember lying on the operating table and having the Doctor surgically remove the tree branch.

After the procedure, he spoke with my parent’s and explained the operation. The operation was successful, but I was very “lucky” because had the branch penetrated anywhere else, even by a fraction of an inch, it would have severed a femoral artery or the major vein, which ran directly to my heart. He said that this was the exact spot where a bullfighter is “gored,” when fighting a bull. The Doctor went on to explain that I would have either been paralyzed from the waist down or I would have bled to death. Obviously, my parent’s were shaken up by this news. I will never forget lying there and my father promising to build a tree house with me so that this would never happen again. I remember nodding off to sleep, dreaming of constructing this great tree house with my Father. I dreamt that I would be the “coolest” kid on the block with my own tree fort.

For whatever reason, my father never built that tree fort with me. Later that year, once it became obvious that our tree fort project was not getting done, I began experimenting with alcohol and other drugs. From the age of 12, until my salvation on March 16, 1990 at the age of 28, I managed to become a “professional” drug addict and alcoholic. I will attribute that slip into addiction as directly correlating with this “broken promise” by my father. My father’s emotional inability to communicate with me or at least be able to explain to his son the reason “why,” left a deep wound within me.

I had placed my father, who was my hero, on a pedestal and that became an impassable chasm between the two of us which lasted until his death when I was 46 years old. I may never understand why we were not able to build our great tree fort together. Why we were not able to connect in that same deep emotional way from that day forward. Those questions remain unanswered to this day. But that life-changing event helped to shape my life-long pursuit, after my salvation, to assist other hurting young men to address the wounds an absent father can inflict.

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