I’ve often thought about when my real drinking problems began. I’ve gone in many stages, from just social drinking, to having a really bad night where I got wasted, back to just social drinking, But I can pinpoint when it all started feeling different, and it wasn’t just a social thing to do. It was a “I need some mind altering thing to do so I can survive this”.
My 3 kids are from a previous marriage, and what a roller coaster ride that was! My ex husband is handsome, oh so charming , and quite the sociopath. I didn’t focus on the sociopath part, but I sure did focus on the handsome and charming part. To this day there has never been another person that has made me feel so beautiful, interesting, and has given me the feeling that anything is possible. I have to say that even now I miss those feelings, even knowing that it was all lies fed by his dangerous personality.
I was a stay at home mom to my son and daughter for about 6 years, and I loved it so much! I had worked my entire life since I was 16 years old, and this freedom, this ability to control my schedule and love on these little babies as much as I wanted to was such a gift! So I poured myself into them, and I became a good wife, a good mother. I cooked and cleaned, I hung out with the other moms in our little beach community, and I put up with my husband going out a few nights a week with his buddies to drink. I put up with this because my father was a big drinker, and every day after work he would stop at the bar and drink until dinner was ready. He usually came home on time, but when he didn’t, look out! My mom turned into a dark cloud which quickly escalated into either a thunderstorm or a full blown tornado which left my sister and I shaking in our bedrooms with our hands over our ears waiting for the storm to pass. I did not want my children cowering in their rooms with angry words and accusations swirling through OUR air, so I just put up with my husband’s behavior for the most part.
It was with my newly found mom group that I learned to drink socially with other mothers. Up until then it never even occurred to me to drink while I was with my children. If my ex and I had a party to go to with the kids I never drank. The kiddos and I would leave my husband at the party if he wanted to stay longer. I would take the kids home, give them their baths, and we would all snuggle in my big bed together calling it a “special night”.
But slowly it became okay to have a few beers at the beach while we were watching the kids play in the sand and water. I ALWAYS loved to drink, but I had boundaries back then, yet I was starting to cross them. In the winter there were play dates, and hey, why not have some wine while the kids are busy with each other? But it didn’t really get out of control, and I thought the whole entire thing was fantastic! I was making fast friends, did not feel lonely with just the kids and I, and it made the absence of my husband bearable.
Flash forward to when my youngest son was born. I now had 3 kids, my baby was 2 weeks old, my little family was growing, and I was a happy mama! One morning I sat down at my husband’s computer to send a thank you email to his sister in London for the beautiful flowers she had sent me when my son was born. It was early on this Labor Day weekend, so I was all alone with my coffee and savoring these moments before the kids woke up and my day would begin.
I started looking through my husband’s sent emails to find her address, and as you can guess I was doing a little snooping. As you can imagine, and how so many other women found, there were emails my husband was sending to a woman. He was asking her to go to Florida with him so they could be alone. And I had gone to high school with this woman, this adulterer that was fooling around with my husband, who was fooling around with our lives, and who was stealing away the innocence of my family.
Right then and there I think I changed forever. I remember waking him up, making him come downstairs to look at the emails. He claimed he was just trying to help a friend out that needed him. Bullshit! Then he confessed it was just sex, meant nothing, and that he loved me and the children. Bullshit! And so the conversation went on and on and on. And then he left to go to the beach to escape the accusations crowding our house, and I stayed with our 3 children, had a nervous breakdown, and thought about how their lives had just been destroyed.
We tried counseling, we tried talking, I tried forgiving, and he tried very little. He was still going out as much if not more than usual, and I stayed at home with the children. I tried leaning on my friends, but they quickly bowed out of the picture because I think my story scared them, and they could not handle my raw emotions. We had money troubles, and I soon learned how severe the money troubles were. My father came to the house after I told my parents about his infidelities. My father pinned my husband up against my oven and demanded “What are you doing to my daughter, to this family?” Yeah, what are you doing to us? But my ex didn’t answer. So I left after 6 months and filed for a divorce. How could I continue with his lying, his cheating, and his lack of giving a shit? How could I let my children be raised with the idea that you can settle for a life like this, and how could I let my daughter think a man has a right to treat his wife this way?
Because there were money problems, because I hadn’t worked for 6 years, because I was suffering, and because I wasn’t thinking clearly I left our home with my 3 young children because I couldn’t get my husband to leave, and I moved in with my single sister. She was a traveling nurse, and was gone much of the time. And then I decided I had to make some money because my ex sure wasn’t giving me any until the courts ordered him to do so, and in the meantime we had to eat!
I didn’t want to lose any time with my babies during the day so I took a waitressing job at night because I wasn’t sure what else to do in the beginning of this mess. I had a teaching degree, and I had worked in advertising, but I wasn’t confident enough or even stable enough to return to these types of jobs. My mom and my mother in law watched my kids while I worked at night at a fairly upscale restaurant. A restaurant that my ex husband and our friends would go to. And now I worked there, and even waited on our friends who I was scaring, as my heart crumbled in my chest and I learned about humility.
After the night ended the owners of the restaurant had a policy where we could have up to 2 drinks while we “cashed out” for the night. Sheepishly I declined in the beginning, but then I decided it was okay, and I wanted to feel like I belonged, and I longed to just forget about this life I was living. The kids were staying the night with their grandparents after all because I didn’t get done with work until midnight usually, so what harm was there? So I sat with my co workers, learned to laugh and drink with them. Once I got comfortable with this I learned they kept the party going, and they would go to a house a bunch of them shared together which they called The Palace. So I started going there, and drinking more and more and more. And then I would come home, sleep for a bit, and then pick up the kids to get the older 2 to school, to take care of my new baby, and then to sit and wonder how my world was falling apart…………
When the kids were gone it was time to drink to escape my nightmare. Every day there was some other nightmare waiting for me to uncover. I learned that the girl he was trying to get to go to Florida with him was just the tip of the iceberg. There were many girls, some one night stands, some living out of the state, some pretending to be my friends. I kept seeing in my mind pictures of all these women sleeping with my husband, in my bed, in my bedroom, touching my things. I kept thinking about the innocence of my house before I knew, and how hard I worked to make it a happy home. I felt like I was living in two different worlds, and I wasn’t sure which one was real. But I did know drinking helped me escape, and I so desperately needed an escape because I was in danger of my mind collapsing. And so my REAL drinking problems began which made my problems even worse, and my feelings about drinking changed forever. I realized I wasn’t a social drinker, I was a problem drinker, and perhaps an alcoholic. And ever since I’ve been fighting to change this, and to regain my dignity I so desperately want for myself and for my family. This is a sad sad story, but I’m finally finding a happy ending.
Happy Sober Tuesday!