A Father’s Day Tribute: Gabriel’s Story

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What does being a Dad mean to you?

Support, love, strength, dependability, trust. Words that shape the essence of a father figure. Words that every child wants to feel about their dad. What happens when it is lost? Can it ever be regained? Gabriel, a counselor at Avenues Townsend, shares his story.  

It’s difficult to pinpoint the best part of fatherhood in recovery because every moment with my wife and children feels like a gift. The quintessential part of being a father in recovery is being present for my two daughters. Being available not only physically, but mentally, and emotionally as well. My daughters are my teachers. They show me parts of myself that need illumination, as well as the characteristics that I hope that they will remember me for- kindness, compassion and love. 

My oldest daughter, Lucia, is now eighteen. She witnessed me in the throes of addiction from the time that she was born until she was thirteen years old. I loved her as much as someone in addiction can love another human being. After getting sober in 2017, we were able to begin a healing process that has made our connection much more meaningful. In the process of working the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, I made amends with both her and her mother.  Our relationships have evolved in a positive direction as a result. When I asked Lucia what the best part of our relationship is since getting sober, she replied “there are multiple best parts but my favorite is seeing you full of life and energy. I love spending time with you now and seeing how you’ve changed as a person.” 

My youngest daughter Evelyn has just turned six. She has never seen me drinking or use drugs. We are able to share milestones such as holidays, and birthday parties. However, it’s the small things that would go unnoticed if I were in addiction, that I find the most rewarding. Things such as telling stories and reading books at bedtime. Listening to her favorite songs on car rides to school in the morning and hearing her sing along. Snuggling on the couch while we watch movies and eat popcorn. Being able to consistently show up and witness the development of such a beautiful person. These things have made my life indescribably meaningful.  

Today my children have a father that they can trust. In recovery, I have learned that trust takes time to earn. Acting consistently with integrity over time establishes trust. Children need consistency, they rely upon it to feel safe. Especially from their parents. That trust from my children means more than anything to me because, for so long, I was untrustworthy. I didn’t even trust myself. As a father in recovery, I feel that a father has a responsibility to be a positive role model. A good leader leads by example. When a person changes their perspective from being selfish to being of service, they then subsequently change their behavior, which, as a result, changes their experience. There is then empirical evidence of recovery from the “seemingly hopeless state of mind and body” that the book of Alcoholics Anonymous describes. I’m forever grateful for the grace of God and the people that have helped me throughout my recovery process. I strive to continue to grow and evolve as a father, as a husband, and a man in recovery.

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