I first realized our relationship needed work about 4 years ago. It was after I got a phone call at 3 in the morning from a nurse at the hospital, telling me my fiancé had been jumped. I still think it was his asshole best friend; they were both too drunk to remember anything, there were no other witnesses, and the pieces just didn’t add up. But he ended up in the hospital with a blood alcohol content of 5 times over the legal limit to drive. That was the first time I asked him to stop drinking; it lasted 4 days.
Over the next year and a half I got caught up in the wedding planning but we still had little fights here and there. He was hung over at our rehearsal lunch and again the morning of our wedding. Then, on our honeymoon in New Orleans, he ditched me after I fell asleep in the hotel room several nights to go keep drinking in the city. That stung, but I dismissed it as something he was just doing because he had the opportunity in a city that keeps partying at every hour.
The fights about alcohol continued, especially after we bought a house. When we lived in an apartment, he could easily go hang out with one of the neighbors and get plastered at their place. In a house though, I could see the empty bottles, the evidence of his drinking. On top of that, I knew he was drinking alone. Entire bottles of whisky or vodka each night. Sometimes 3 or 4 tall boy malt beverages. He’d drink before work, during work, and after work. And the frustrating thing was that he couldn’t even hold his liquor well. He’d come to bed wasted, waking me up, and then toss and turn all night. He’d throw up all morning, every morning. He didn’t eat meals for days in a row because he was too hung over. Every time my family saw him, they thought he was sick. They were deeply worried about his health and kept asking me if he’d seen a doctor. I just brushed it off and told them he was tired.
He was never abusive, not physically or even verbally. But he was selfish. He’d literally lie in bed all day until the second he had to get up and go to work for his afternoon shift. He’d spend $10-20 dollars a day just on alcohol, leaving me to watch every penny that was spent so we’d have enough for the bills. On his days off when we were supposed to hang out, I’d come to him already wasted and passed out on the couch. I constantly had to cancel plans with family because he was too drunk or hung-over to make it. I was embarrassed to take him out with friends because I knew he’d get hammered too quickly. I had never felt so lonely.
I don’t remember when exactly I started imagining my life without him. I slowly dawned on me that, eventually, I’d have to leave him. Or maybe he’d die tragically, probably from drunk driving or his liver failing. I just knew that I’d end up on my own. So I started living my life besides him, or maybe in spite of him. I volunteered. I took myself out to lunch, dinner, or drinks. I didn’t let him stop me from spending time with my family or even his. I still left my schedule open for his days off, just in case we could have a good night together. However I planned my life around the obstacles that were him and his alcoholism.
Then there were the big blow-ups. The time I found his secret email address. The second time he ended up in the emergency room with a BAC of over .4. When he got his second DUI. I started telling him I would leave him if he didn’t quit drinking. I would find hidden alcohol and pour it out. I bought a breathalyzer and made him blow into it when he came to bed. I made him go to AA meetings. He still found ways to get around me and keep drinking. Each time felt like a new rock bottom, but I kept supporting him. I told him that I knew he needed my help, not my anger. I truly, genuinely wanted him to get well.
When he showed up to my nephew’s first birthday party under the influence, he honestly wasn’t even that drunk. But he’d be drinking, I could tell, and that was enough. I made him get back in my car, told him we were getting a divorce, drove him to his parent’s house, and said goodbye. Then I went home and cried for 2 weeks. After that, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief.
He decided to go rehab and I am so proud of how his recovery is going. However, I’m still going through with the divorce and he, his parents, his counselors, and even some of my friends and family think that makes me a monster. They say that I’m not supporting him at his lowest point, that I’m being selfish. Well as someone who lived through his selfishness for years and through many points that felt pretty damn low to me, I won’t apologize. I can’t put my finger on when I fell out of love with him, but I did and I want more. I want a relationship that isn’t littered with years of lies and broken trust. I believe we both deserve to be with partners who complement our best attributes, who we don’t secretly resent, and who make us better people. I cannot be that wife for him.
I’m 29 and going through a divorce. I’m focusing on myself and that doesn’t make me selfish. I’m optimistic about what 30 will bring and find myself smiling and giddy much more than I am sullen or depressed. But I have earned the right to feel happy and excited about what is to come. If my theatre background has taught me anything, it’s that the show must go on.