In 2007, we moved into a house – brand new construction in a great little neighborhood. My job changed again and I found myself commuting in the opposite direction. I was still working crazy hours and going to school part time. Robert found a job stocking at a grocery store at night. It didn’t pay enough to cover a 2nd car and daycare. He swore he could make it without daycare and his shift meant another car wasn’t necessary.
After 2 days, he realized it was too much. We found a daycare for Robbie that was somewhat affordable.
Three weeks later, Robert was fired. We pulled Robbie out of daycare and were back where we started.
I’m not sure if that’s when the drinking got worse…or if it just took me that long to notice.
I tried to reason with him. I tried to set limits. At first, he just had a problem with hard liquor, so he agreed to no hard liquor in the house. Then one day he polished off three bottles of wine in an afternoon – while I was at work and he was alone with our baby. So I changed it to “no more than one bottle of wine or one six pack if beer in the house at a time.” I was so young and naive.
I begged him to get help. He finally agreed to attend a few AA meetings. One weekend, he asked me to go with him. I was so glad he was trying and willing to let me be a part of this. We went to a meeting and listened to everyone share their stories. I spent most of the meeting in tears. On the drive home he explained that he brought me so that I could see that he doesn’t have a problem – he wanted me to see just how unlike those people he was. I was crushed.
I opened up his AA book that week and found a chapter for spouses. Granted, this chapter seems very outdated and culminates in a “stand by your man and do your duty as a wife” mentality, but most of the chapter was painfully accurate. It explained what it feels like to be married to an alcoholic. I went through and underlined every passage I agreed with…and then gave it back to him.
He was very surprised to hear the pain he was causing. He still felt he had control, though.
Robbie continued to be a happy little baby, but I grew more and more nervous about leaving for work each day.
On New Years Day 2008, my family wanted to get together, as my family is apt to do since we’re all very close. As usual, Robert wanted nothing to do with them. I left him at home with the car and jokingly said, “Try not to get into too much trouble!” Robbie and I went out with my family for the day.
When I came home that night, Robert was smashed. He’d bought a handle (1.75L) of bourbon and had easily finished over 1/3 of the bottle at that point. He thought I was giving him the ok to drink when I left. He told me to hide the bottle from him and that way he wouldn’t drink more the next day while I was at work.
Of course I didn’t hide it well enough.
When I came home from work the next day, the oven was on – I remember thinking that was odd. It was set very high – 450 or so. I called out to see where my guys were.
“I’m in here, playing with Baby,” he called from Robbie’s room. He never would call him by his name. He still doesn’t.
He also rarely ever played with Robbie, so I was skeptical, but hopeful. Maybe he was trying.
I walked in and saw him leaning against a wall, coke in hand, while Robbie played on the floor.
I sat down to play with my little guy. Robert was grinning ear to ear.
“Why is the oven on?” I asked.
He gave a little nod if his head and made some swooshy gesture with his hand. I both had no idea what that meant…and exactly what it meant, all at the same time.
I stood up and sniffed the can in his hand. Bourbon.
I ran to where I had hid the bottle. There was maybe four fingers’ worth left. I’ve never been so upset in my life.
I called him into the kitchen. I issued my ultimatum.
“If you EVER drink ONE MORE SIP of alcohol while you are at home alone with OUR BABY, I will leave you.”
I poured the rest of the bourbon down the drain. I can’t tell you how much alcohol I poured out over our short marriage.
The next morning, he snuggled up behind me, trying to be sweet.
“I meant what I said last night. I wasn’t joking,” I said.
“What did you say?”
He had blacked out. He didn’t remember any of it.
“I told you that if you ever drink another drop if alcohol while you’re alone with Robbie, I’ll leave you. I’m serious.”
The next Friday, he walked with Robbie to my mom’s house (1/2 mile away at that time). He drank a beer. He left the empty bottle on her counter.
When he got home, he messaged me at work and told me. I started crying right there in the back if my training class.