We had problems I had no idea how to solve even after reading endless self-help books and listening to all the experts on marriage:
- My husband couldn’t hold a job for more than a year or two
- Our money was going to buy beer when we couldn’t afford milk
- My husband would do and say scary things and then have no memory of them
- I was hoarse trying to get my husband “ to see the light”
- I worried constantly about my husband driving drunk and was calling hospitals and ERs trying to find him when he was 2 hours or more late
- My husband denied drinking even when he smelled of alcohol
The one point my husband and I did agree upon was that he was NOT an alcoholic. He had a moral failing or a bad habit, but he was definitely NOT an alcoholic.
My definition of an alcoholic was someone living under a bridge drinking from a bottle wrapped in a brown paper bag. That wasn’t my husband. He mowed the lawn, took out the trash, washed the dishes, and kept a job for the most part.
My wake up moment happened in a small quiet way. I was attending a class on keeping boundaries. After the 6-week marriage course I had decided if I couldn’t fix my marriage I would fix me. This class was insightful, but still didn’t address the huge unknown destroying my husband's and my life.
After class one night a woman, who understood my confusion, looked deeply into my eyes and shared about her husband’s journey with alcoholism. It sounded strangely similar to my husband’s journey, but my husband wasn’t an alcoholic I assured her. She smiled and said nothing and then it hit me. “She knows something I don’t.” For the first time I allowed myself to entertain the idea that my husband may be an alcoholic. Suddenly all the pieces fit together. Every article I had read and every person who had tried to talk to me about alcoholism flooded my understanding. I “woke up” standing in that room staring at this woman’s smile.
That woman encouraged me to try an Al-Anon meeting and it was there I found an oasis of others who had been affected by the someone else's drinking.It was painful to realize my husband had a deadly disease and I was powerless to save him, but it was wonderful to finally know the name of the darkness that had shadowed my life for so long.
Bad Day Brighter Future
Yes, it was a dark day, but as the shock wore off, relief flooded in. I was not alone and there were many things I could do to take care of the children and myself. These changes might in turn help my husband to see the truth about his disease, hopefully allowing him to “wake up” and see how it was destroying his life.
Unfortunately, my husband never "woke up" and died from the disease even as he started attending AA meetings to figure out what had gone so wrong with his life.
When I hear someone searching for answers, but still in denial I remember how painful it is to wake up to the reality of alcoholism and I try to gently share from my experience, strength, and hope knowing they will wake up when they are ready.
A Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By Madeline Schloop