I never told my family about my husband’s drinking problem.
The kids made innocent comments to my mother like, “Daddy drank a lot of beer last night watching football.”
Nothing alarming. My kids were just stating the facts – but in such a way that, like me, they may have been protecting their father’s reputation, careful not to blur my mother’s vision of him.
He was a good guy, after all – when he wasn’t drinking. And he only drank at home.
“He only drinks at home.”
That was a statement that my mother-in-law always followed with, “You should be happy he doesn’t go anywhere.”
So, there it was. I should be happy – grateful, in fact – that he wasn’t drinking and driving.
His family knew he drank excessively, but since it wasn’t affecting them directly, they just didn’t seem to care or were in denial.
Truth be told, sometimes I actually wished that he would drive drunk and get a DWI. He needed a wake-up call.
The day came, though, when he was no longer a functioning alcoholic. His drinking began to affect his job – his world, his number one. Missed appointments. The smell of alcohol emanating from his pores every work day. And people were taking notice.
The truth could no longer be ignored. His boss and life-long friend sat him down and addressed the issue straight on.
I don’t know what was said at that meeting. But the fear of losing his job – not the years of crying and fighting, not the fear of losing his family – was all it took for him to want to get help.
I cried when he told me. Happy tears, I think. But also tears of anger, fear and hope.
It didn’t matter, though. He stopped drinking and started Alcoholics Anonymous.
I remember looking at him that first night and starting to sob. I told him how scared I was and that this was it for me. I was done. If things didn’t change, I was leaving and taking the kids with me. We simply couldn’t live that way anymore.
That’s when I knew it was time to tell my mom.
I remember telling her, but also sparing her some of the more hurtful details of what had been going on over the years.
“I am so sorry you have to go through this, and the kids, those beautiful babies,” she said.
She promised she wouldn’t judge him and promised to support me, which is exactly what I knew she would say and exactly what I needed to hear. But still, I could see the hurt for me in her eyes. That’s what a mother’s love is about.
The secret was out. Everyone knew now–friends, family, and neighbors. I no longer needed to hide.
So, when I put my foot down and said we would leave. I knew I meant it.
And he did too.