They always say that as a little girl, your daddy is the first man to ever love you and show you how you deserved to be treated. I was never given that luxury.

For years my dad would come home high every night after disappearing for the entire day. He would wake up my mother solely just to start an argument. Many nights I would wake up from their screaming and cry myself back to sleep. Sometimes I purposely cried loud enough for them to hear in hopes they would stop. Sometimes they did, sometimes I just wouldn’t go to sleep at night. I still suffer from insomnia to this day.

I remember one specific time my dad was nodding off in the middle of the day while I was trying to talk to him. He told me he loved me and that he was sorry for never being around. Those words meant much to me as a child. But as I got older, I began to realize that they didn’t mean anything.

Although we never had a good conversation, I always looked forward to actually seeing him and being able to talk to him. Even if he didn’t talk back or fell asleep while I was talking, I made myself believe that he was listening.

I guess the hard part was that he was never truly absent from my life. His presence was there even when he was not. Sometimes I wish he would have just left completely. I think that would have been easier on me.

While his addiction may or may not be over, it will never be over for me. I am fighting a constant battle within myself every single day.

I thank my dad for the things he’s done for me. He’s the reason that I always say “no” to drugs and stay out of trouble. He’s the reason that I care so much about people because I know what it’s like to not be cared for. He’s the reason I have my guard up for all of the right reasons. He’s the reason that I keep pushing myself to go far in life, because I do not want to end up like him. He’s the reason I always keep my promises to the best of my ability, because I know what it’s like to be let down.

I often feel guilty for having little to do with him. I tell myself it's not his fault and I read articles about how addiction is a disease on a regular basis. But unfortunately, I am unable to put the past behind me.

Contrary to belief, I have forgiven my father for all of the pain he has caused my family and I. However, it is impossible to forget about everything.

It saddens me that my dad probably won't be there to see me graduate from college, walk me down the aisle, or even be a part of my children's lives. He was once an amazing man with a great life. It's unbelievable how just one hit can change all of that.

If anyone reading this has dealt with substance abuse in their lifetime, I want you to know that you are not alone. If you are someone struggling with addiction yourself, I hope this article encourages you to find a way out. Addiction truly does affect everyone around you and it will for the rest of their lives.