What I Want You to Know is a series of
reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their
personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the
unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to
this series, click here. Today’s guest posts is by anonymous reader.
I grew up in a family where wine was a part of most dinners and
celebrations. We all knew that my dad had a drinking problem but he was
a quiet kind of drunk. Mostly he fell asleep after dinner. Except for
when he and my mom fought. Then it was ugly and physical and scary.
married in my early twenties to a man that rarely drank. We moved
overseas to a country where alcohol was freely used and we began to
drink wine or beer in the evenings. When we moved back to the US, we
continued this habit, often under the guise of needing a glass of wine
to sleep. Except it was always more than a glass. For a while in my
twenties, I began to wonder if I had an issue but my first pregnancy I
had no problem stopping drinking. After I gave birth, I drank less and
less. But my husband drank more.
One day I was in a grocery store
buying brandy. I had decided to make homemade vanilla as Christmas
gifts and I needed brandy to do this. While in the store, I heard an
almost audible voice in my head say “Don’t buy it.” I was beginning to
realize that my husband had a drinking problem. Drinking seemed liked
something he needed to do, not something he enjoyed. He would buy the
cheapest wine possible and mix it with Sprite or Seven-up to make wine
coolers. He began to buy box wine so that he could drink more for less
money. I ought the brandy despite the voice in my head. When I brought
the brandy home, he tasted it and that is when things really started to
go downhill. He started buying brandy on a regular basis and drinking
My husband was a graduate student and I was working. We
had a young daughter. I would look at him at night, when he would come
home from the library and I had a sense that there was something off.
But he hid it very well, never slurring his words or having a hangover .
But there were empty bottles in the morning and At one point he had an
injury that required surgery. He was immobile for many weeks and in
pain. He begged me in tears to go and buy him brandy so he could sleep.
I was horrified and refused. He continued to beg and I continued to
refuse. I knew we were in trouble.
After this, we made an agreement
that we would stop drinking. I kept the agreement. He didn’t. He
became paranoid and irritable. The last week of graduate school, he
came home absolutely plastered. It’s a night I will never forget as he
yelled out accusations to me that I was cornering him. It was
devastating and I was terrified.
We moved on to a job that was a
disaster. After six months, we went back to the city where we had gone
to graduate school, broken and ashamed. The drinking got worse and my
husband spiraled into a deep depression. I began teaching a few
evenings a week but had to quit because it was clear that my husband was
drinking while I was gone and I was afraid for my daughter. Somehow
during that time my husband hit rock bottom and decided to go to AA.
He got a wonderful sponsor, got deep into counseling and made some
painful discoveries about his past and why he was self-medicating with
alcohol. Through hard, gut wrenching work, he gained sobriety and has
been sober for 12 years.
What I want you to know is that alcohol was a
liar and a thief in my marriage. It stole trust and made me live in
fear and suspicion. Recovery wasn’t easy. As my husband worked through
the 12 steps, he had to be truthful with me in very deep ways. At one
point he took me through the house to show me all the places he had
hidden bottles. He thought I would be pleased with his honesty. I
mostly thought that he was a deceitful, lying jerk. Alcoholism made me
feel stupid- how could I have missed so many signals for so long? I
don’t worry about my husband drinking again because he has done the hard
work of recovery. But I have an eagle eye for any form a deceit or
fudging on the truth. I won’t put up with the slightest falsehood and
my husband knows this.
My husband has a job that requires a high
moral code. After receiving a really negative response to our honesty
about alcoholism at one potential job, we have now decided that being a
recovering alcoholic is privileged information and we only share it with
close and trustworthy friends.
What I want you to know is that I
felt alone and afraid during the years that my husband drank. I didn’t
know who I could talk to or how they would judge me. Realizing that I
was married to a man who had the same issues as my father was especially
painful. I want you to know that I was angry with my husband during
those years and in the early years of recovery. But what I also want
you to know is how proud I am of my husband for dealing with his pain
and walking the hard road to sobriety.