What’s the difference between someone who gets hammered and embarrasses you at a party and someone who has a real problem with their drinking?
Is there a difference? Maybe. In this post, I’ll break down the top 3 things that finally got me to face facts that my spouse was a full-fledged alcoholic.
#1 They embarrass you or cause a scene more often than not.
At one of the last weddings that my ex-husband and I attended together, he was so drunk that he grabbed someone else’s jacket off a chair as we were leaving and tried to put it on, even though it was about 5 sizes too small. Earlier in the night, he’d disappeared for a good 30 minutes looking for the bar. I can only guess how many bourbons he had before he found his way back to me.
I’d grown so accustomed to him drinking but functioning normally that I shamelessly didn’t stop him from driving us home most of the time. Thankfully on this particular night, I was newly pregnant and when we started to leave (and decided to drive a friend home!), I knew I needed to take the keys. He snored the entire way back to my friend’s apartment, and I apologized to her for his behavior.
Those are the scenes that are so easy to write off with friends. We’ve all had nights like that, and they don’t need to know that all of his nights out look kind of similar. But I knew. And you probably do too, if this sounds like your life.
#2 Changes in behavior – physical or pyschological
You guys. Whiskey dick is a real thing. If it’s become a thing in your relationship, then drinking could be the cause. In my case, I never really put two and two together until after we had separated, but by the time this became an issue, his drinking had really gone off the deep end.
Psychologically, you may be seeing things like an increase in anxiety or a decrease in general activity level. For several years, I thought my ex was just a really anxious person, and I’m sure he probably was to some extent. However, he used his anxiety as his #1 way to fool me into not recognizing his drinking problem for what it was. Instead, he’d tell me that his medicine made him throw up in the mornings, or it made him overly tired in the evenings when he’d pass out on the couch. Every time I tried to tie something to his drinking, he would shoot back at me with how it was somehow related to his anxiety.
And his overall lack of participation in his life is what really stung. I thought he was just depressed or was having a hard time with symptoms of anxiety, and it was really hard to pinpoint his laziness as a side effect of drinking. He used to take pride in the yard, cutting the grass every weekend, and tinkering with things around the house. At our first house, when we was going through a rough phase, he blamed his lack of “house participation” on just not caring anymore since we knew we’d move soon. But when I was pregnant with our second child, and for weeks I’d been unable to get him to rake the leaves, I was a pretty bitter pregnant wife outside with our 2 year old while I did it myself. He just stayed inside playing video games or watching some marathon on tv.
#3 You just know or worry about it deep in your gut
I really hated snooping. And sometimes, I didn’t even have to. I’d notice how quickly the handle of bourbon was gone, or see the plastic bag that I knew only comes from the ABC Store in the trashcan. Sometimes he’d pass out on the couch and I could pick up his cup and smell it—reeking off booze.
After he’d moved out, I was horrified to find countless (empty) bottles of liquor stored inside of the couch, where he’d cut a slit in the fabric. He spent so much energy making me doubt myself, providing some excuse every time I confronted him. When people ask why it took me so long to leave, I guess that’s a part of it. I loved this man, and I’d committed my life to him. I couldn’t leave on a hunch.
But of course my gut was right. It almost always is. So when I walked in on him pouring whiskey into his coke can at 7am on a weekday morning, there was no excuse he could give. The game was over, and it ended one of two ways—he admitted he was an alcoholic and stopped drinking, or we parted ways.
My particular case was pretty severe, pretty fast. His alcoholism was a slow burn—until it was in the open. He loved me terribly, but his drinking was all-consuming. He drank his first day home after a 28 day in-patient rehab stay, and we separated 5 days later—leaving me at home with an eleven month old and a 3 year old.
He was found dead with a BAC of 0.36 seventeen months later, and he was 36 years old.
My loves, at the end of the day it really is all about trusting your gut. You know—even when they hide it so beautifully. I write all about our relationship, his downfall, and how I got through life as a full-time single parent with two toddlers at home in my book, The Other Side of the Door. It’s available on Amazon and B&N online.
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