I had waited so, so long for my husband to sober up – for our lives to finally be better. Happier. Without the weight of the bottle holding us down.
Eight months into his sobriety, though, I was consumed with worry that he would slip up and drag us all back down the rabbit hole.
But what was more troubling for me than waiting for the other shoe to drop was the very blurry line that my role as a wife and mother had now crossed. I was so used to my old life… the life in which I was the caretaker of all, the emotional provider and the ever-present parent covering up some dark secrets. The life in which I made the decisions.
Now he was there.
He was always present with all of us, no matter what activity we were doing. He helped choose what we’d do, joined every activity with me and the kids, and always wanted to talk.
These were real conversations, not the slurred ones I was used to having. Not conversations that I had to remind him we’d already had the night before.
If I’m being honest, there were times that I secretly wanted to let him stay home and drink. Awful, right? I knew it and it killed me every time that went through my mind.
But I had to re-learn how to live with this man who had, for all intents and purposes, become an uninvolved stranger in my life.
Not only did I have to learn to share the bed again, I had to compromise on what television shows we watched. And I love Bravo, my escape from reality through reality TV. I’d get out of the shower though, and he’d already chosen the programs he wanted to watch. He’d already said goodnight to the kids.
I wasn’t alone anymore, and I didn’t know what to do. What’s more, I had no idea who this person living with me even was.
After all those times I heard “Daddy, please stop drinking,” the kids were now jumping into his arms as soon as he walked through the door. They asked him to stay with them and listen to everything about their day. My heart filled with joy anytime I witnessed it.
But still, it broke me a little.
What about me? How do I support him? Am I supposed to just forget everything that he did all those years and simply move on?
Seeming to sense my uncertainty with our relationship, he surprised me with a long weekend away without the kids. I was excited and nervous about our getaway. After all, we hadn’t been away alone together since before the kids were born. We never even went on a honeymoon. And last year on our wedding anniversary, he went away with his brother for a weekend of binge drinking.
“Is this really happening?” I thought, “Does he really want to go away with me?”
It turns out, it was just what we needed. We dressed up and spoiled one another. We got to know each other again and talked about everything.
Everything except the elephant in the room, that is.
I had so many questions I wanted to ask about his sobriety. How are you feeling? Do you ever want to drink? Do you have any coping methods? Do you ever want to have a drink? Can I do anything to make this better?
My mind was spinning like the tilt-a-whirl at the carnival, jerking every which way with questions and comments.
But the biggest ones, perhaps, were this: Do you like me again? Do you remember what you did to me when you were drinking? Are you sorry for what you did?
I said nothing.
I held my tongue and took in every moment because we were enjoying one another again. We actually liked each other’s company.
I also thought about how different this trip would be if he was still drinking. We’d likely be at some dive bar where he would be talking up a storm to all the bargoers and I would be miserably waiting to go back the room, hoping upon hope that he wouldn’t embarrass us.
But in his sobriety, the worry of drinking removed the stress and kept it enjoyable, despite the fact that I missed my kids like crazy. And most importantly, we came to find that we liked each other again.
You might find it odd that I keep talking about our like for one another, rather than our love for one another. The truth is, we do love one another, but we have a long road ahead of us… to get to know each other again, respect each other again, and to move beyond the things we came to dislike about one another before his sobriety.
And even more, I need to be able to wake up without asking, “Is this the day that it all falls apart?”
Read more in this guest blogger series…