When My Husband First Sat Me Down
I remember the first time Evan sat me down and looked me in the eye and told me he was concerned about my drinking, at least three or four years ago. It was after a particularly late, drunken night, and he approached me in our bedroom while the kids were watching TV on a Sunday morning. I don’t remember where we had been or who we had been with the night before, but it was probably much of the same scene that we always found ourselves in. With the same people. And it was the same hungover Sunday morning.
What I do remember is the look on my husband’s face. A combination of sadness, disappointment and fear. I recall the panic I felt at realizing that I was in fact in over my head. My husband was worried and scared. I remember not being able to catch my breath, thinking, “Holy shit, how are we having this conversation?” I felt embarrassed. Angry at him at first. And then angry at myself for allowing my drinking to escalate to that point. I promised him I would get it under control.
“I will do better,” I said.
And that was how it always went. I did better. For a little while.
I would stop drinking during the weekdays. I would go to dinner with Evan and order a glass of wine, asking his permission to get a second glass. Like a child. Resentful towards Evan that he was making me feel this way. But I knew I had no choice but to cooperate.
We would avoid going out with friends, never really talking about the fact that many of my girlfriends and their husbands drank the same way as me at times. So why am I being punished? It wasn’t fair. That was how it felt for so long at least. But I knew deep down I had a harder time controlling myself than a lot of people, even though I couldn’t admit it. I knew I couldn’t stop at just one drink, like my husband. He often didn’t even finish his one beer, leaving a few sips in the bottle, which baffled me. I knew that I was always the drunkest one at parties. My friends teased me about it often.
I had myself and Evan convinced for years that it would be okay though. I constantly would figure it out, and get it all under control. I would not let it get too out of hand. I didn’t have a problem, I told myself.
Little did Evan know though, that those dinners out together, I obsessed over every single sip I took. I had a hard time concentrating on our conversations because I couldn’t stop thinking about my next drink. When could I get another? Was I allowed another? Would he get angry? Could I steal a sip of his drink when he was in the bathroom? I watched what people at other tables ordered and I kept my eye on the waitress. It consumed my every thought, and he never realized it.
Eventually after a month or two of good behavior, I would start casually having a glass or two of wine during the week, having proved myself responsible. I genuinely thought that I could handle it. That I could drink like Evan and enjoy one glass and not feel compelled to drink the entire bottle. It was a slippery slope, because my one glass always turned into two. And my one day during the week that I was allowed to drink quickly morphed into a two day rule, because staying at home with the kids is fucking hard, I would tell myself. Or Evan and I had a fight, so I deserved it. Or it was vacation. A holiday. A family member was visiting. The sun was shining! There was always an excuse.
Within a few weeks, I was right back to drinking every single night of the week, often crushing a bottle of wine a night on the couch by myself. Evan would avert his eyes, huffing and puffing as he took out the recycling in the morning. I would pop Advil in the morning, chug some water and pretend that nothing was wrong. Nothing to see here.
And Evan would wait until I had another eventful Saturday night or I did something stupid, that would give him allowance to approach me again about my consumption. Skipping the boys hockey games to stay at the club drinking with friends at the Christmas Brunch, blacking out on Easter with friends, falling down the stairs drunk in front of the kids after a casual dinner out. I gave him endless opportunities to confront me, as the chances were plentiful.
And Evan would always sit me down the next morning, begging me to consider drinking less. Sometimes he would be kind and loving, other times he would lose his patience. Regardless, I would always promise him to do better, and for a few months after our talks, I would. It was a vicious cycle. I would later learn that Evan just hung on, hoping and praying I would eventually figure it out.
This routine lasted for years, until finally I realized I couldn’t do it anymore. One day, I woke up and turned to Evan and asked for his help. The relief I know he probably felt was beyond anything either of us can explain.
I am so grateful every second of every day that I finally found the courage to do that.