The Brown Paper Bag…

From the moment I met him, I fell deeply in love… let me rephrase that, “blindly” in love. I thought I had met the man of my dreams. He was tall, beautiful, witty (my God was he witty), and charming. It seemed as if I had known him forever, you know, that kind of deep in your soul feeling. We were very different in our own ways, but very much the same in the things that I felt mattered. After dating for 6 months I introduced him to my children, at that time they were 5, 7, and 14. My youngest took to him immediately, they were the best buds from there on out. I guess that is one of the hardest parts of all of this…

Like all new love, we went out on dates, took the kids to the park, on vacation, they even had their own bed time rituals (Piggy Back rides through the house to bed). You could always find my youngest snuggled up to him, even my 7 year old wasn’t out of reach, she was always curiously watching him and challenging him. LOL! Those two loved to “one up” each other constantly, even at 7 she thought she knew it all and at 38 he did too! Those were the days…

He was aware of the past circumstances I had endured, he was accepting and understanding pretty much for the entirety of our relationship. He was keenly aware (or at least I thought he was) that Alcoholics had destroyed not only me, but the very kids that he claimed to love, lives in more than one way. Which is why I believe he hid it at first… a few drinks at dinner on the weekends, followed by a couple more when we would get home.  That was normal, I mean alcohol in moderation never was a issue with me. I have a couple cocktails every now and then, so I didn’t think anything of it.

After the first year his work began to get to him, it went from a couple nights a week drinker to multiple nights a week. There wasn’t a night he didn’t have his large plastic cup filled with Captain and Diet. At one point I questioned him, “How can you drink that much and not feel like crap the next morning”, that’s when I learned that Diet doesn’t have sugar, which is what causes the hangover. Something I now wish I never knew.  It’s one of those fun facts that has little meaning to others but knowing that your loved one knows that fact and lives by it to function, is like a stake to the heart.

I had talked with him about the consistency of his drinking numerous times… how it was effecting our relationship, the kids, and most of all him. Sometimes he was understanding and said that he knew it was becoming an issue and the reasons were X,Y, Z. He would say he would slow down and he would for a week but then he would go right back. I will admit, I am a smoker and I did hide it from him for some time but came clean not long after. So I do have my own addiction that I wrestle with. I’m not completely innocent in that department, and I don’t pretend to be BUT it doesn’t change the way I parent, participate in life, and interact with people. Which has always been his argument, “Smoking is the same thing as drinking” to which I always answer, “You are correct as far as the death rate goes but if I get pulled over, I’m not going to jail.”

The dynamics of our family started to shift, he spent more and more time at work, and the kids and I began to take the back seat. This was not a  issue to me because I was proud of him and how hard he worked. He was working his way up the ladder and I couldn’t have been more impressed with his dedication. That was until it came time to buy our first house together… as per the request of the mortgage company, I had to get all of our bank statements for our loan approval. (We always had separate accounts to avoid the financial fights but each paid our own bills). That is when all of the longer hours became glaringly clear, nearly every day he was spending hours at a bar on his way home. I wanted to vomit. When I approached him about it, he said it was so he didn’t bring work home with him. Yeah. Should have and could have, mean absolutely nothing in the scheme of things. Here I am.

The kids began to withdraw from him more, since the majority of his time was spent on the couch. Which was also a trait their father had possessed and they were less than pleased.  The conversations began to be forgotten and the need to continually repeat them were wearing on me. I had to get out of the house, a good friend of mine was visiting from FL while the kids were away at their dad’s house, so I jumped at the chance to go to a concert and just have fun! As in real fun, where there were people and life wasn’t on repeat. That’s what I thought anyways…

My friends and I arrived a little early to tailgate, have a couple cocktails and catch up. It was so nice to spend time with them, especially since he often times would take off to a buddies house for a couple nights a month (he was never married and the whole relationship and kids thing warranted it). It never bothered me that he wanted time with his buddies, since that was the time I would use to clean the house without having to clean around anyone. Until this night. This night would turn out to be a turning point. After a couple of hours, I checked my phone to make sure everything was ok, only to find a load of messages from him. You see, he had went to concerts, numerous concerts with his friends. I knew he was out having fun and enjoying himself, he deserved it for as hard as he worked. I might text him once but didn’t expect a reply until after the concert was over. This new concept of me going to a concert must have really sent him over the edge… with the help of “The Captain”. He was enraged. We left the concert early due to his texts and had to pick up my girlfriend’s daughter on our way, which made the texts and phone calls even worse. “Where are you, It doesn’t take this long, Are you trying to piss me off”… that night I left our home with no shoes, just the clothes on my back and I was positive I would never go back. The Captain had finally won.

I went back. My love for him wouldn’t allow me to give up… I wasn’t a quitter and I knew that if I loved him enough, if WE loved him enough, he would stop. He said he would stop, or “at least cut down”. (That should have been my alert words but something is better than nothing and at this point, I was willing to start with something.) My youngest pleaded with me for the entirety of the separation to give him another chance, he wanted “HIS _____” back. This man, who had captured my kids hearts, was worth fighting for. He was ours, we claimed him, and we were going to make him better.. with LOVE. But it doesn’t work that way.

The next two years, were more of the same. We had become accustom to seeing him on the couch, playing on his phone, with his Large Cup of Captain and Diet, the knife that he used to stir his drinks on the edge of the kitchen sink and the brown bag from that days liquor purchase, laying on the counter. The same conversations have become repetitive because those were the conversations that he COULD remember. It wasn’t even worth arguing about those he couldn’t, because confrontation is a bitch with someone who is “always right” even when the majority of the time these days, he was wrong.

He has managed to make it to my youngest’s baseball games and even helped coach a few times! There is hope! Maybe, if nothing else, he will do it for him! (Thinking back, what a terrible thing to shoulder on my child) My daughter had become more distant, partly because she’s a teenager but the promise to stop drinking has begun to make her resent him and I begin to feel like I’m failing my children, as well as myself, and especially him. It’s funny how that works, how you feel like the failure when a alcoholic doesn’t want to get better. You begin to shoulder everyone’s sadness and pain. You start to lose yourself in the desperation of it all. You aren’t the alcoholic but you might as well be. I stop bringing up his drinking at all because it’s pointless anymore. I avoid the issue because I don’t want to start another fight in which he is right, and I am wrong.

He’s much more exhausted these days, so the drinking actually knocks him out. He still tries to include us every once in a while in his life.  He really did try there for a while, but anymore, I feel he’s all but given up. I keep up my duties cleaning the house, doing laundry, grocery shopping and everything else trying to at least lessen that stress. It has become my only source of comfort lately. That’s the one thing left I know will please him. Until it didn’t.

The last straw was dumb. It wasn’t some big fight or argument. It was a few words that separated “Happily Ever After” from “The End”.  I had a discussion with him about not being able to finish a load of laundry due to the spin cycle failing (and probably partly due to me over filling the washer). You see, I had a bunch of errands to run for a client and my daughters cheer team so by the time I got home I thought I had plenty of time to clear the washer of our clothes so that he could do some of his laundry. I had explained this to him, his response was “No worries, I’m tired anyway, I will do it in the morning”. Morning came, I was in a great mood, rolled over and said “good morning honey”… I received no response. I tried again, still no response. So I asked if he was ok, to which he replied “Something is up, it doesn’t take THREE hours to do laundry”.  If there is something that I have learned over the years with this man, is never question a discussion from a previous night. He left for work without another word.

We all have that “thing” we do when we are mad, my thing is cleaning… for the next few hours I cleaned as though my life depended on it. Just so happens that his friend was  coming to our house to watch a fight and spend the night, that night. So I packed a bag and headed to my parents house. I did some major soul searching and decided that I had, had enough. This man that I was still in love with, would have to fight the fight without us. I could no longer fight it for him. He would have to do it alone. There wasn’t any words that could have convinced me any different and at this point, there were no actions that could change that.

Letting go and admitting defeat hasn’t been easy for me, not when it came to him. He was, for so long, my Happily Ever After.  I had never conceived my future any different nor did I want to. Even through it all, I’ve never stopped loving him.  What I did do, was lose me. I kept telling myself that this is normal, this is what happens when you’ve been together for 6,7, 8 years.  This has nothing to do with the alcohol, it’s just how he needs to unwind. Even as I’m sitting here typing this, I’m still finding excuses for him and it’s heartbreaking.

The most heartbreaking of all is how he has chosen to depart this relationship. He has said the best thing for HIM is to have a clean slate. He wants no contact with my children or our animals. In order for HIM to move on this is the way it has to be. He “apologizes” but “it is, what it is”.  He also said that because of my accusations of his drinking problems he can’t understand why I would want him to have anything to do with my children. It seems, as usual, it all falls on me. Just like the knife by the sink and the brown bag left on the counter, this too I will clean up. This is what enabling does to you, it makes you and your family the fall guy. You can only create a sense of calm if you are catering to the alcoholic. The minute you stop enabling them, this is the kind of hell you will pay. You can NOT help an addict. There is NO helping an addict. It is up to them if they want to get clean. It is up to them to decide which is more important. Unfortunately for us, “The Captain” won for the last time… and that my friend is when alcohol became the other woman.










2 thoughts on “The Brown Paper Bag…

  1. Wow. No words. When mine left it was because he had dressed me down so badly that I told him to get the fuck out and never come back. He was a verbal abuser. He had one year of being I can’t call it sober because I now believe he was white knuckling it and was just dry. He was going to AA but his sponsor had told me that he hadn’t been doing any of the step work yet. So after I through him out, off he went to live with his mum, the grand enabler extraordinaire. She’d let him drink a fifth of Vodka and then tuck him into bed with a blood alcohol level of .35 Nice Mommy. After about a year he was getting close to death I phoned his ex-wife and we planned an intervention. He never expected to see both of his exes in his mother’s house with the Police. But I still loved him. I didn’t want him dead. I refused to let this disease win. I told him at this last detox that even though we are broken up, if he ever needs a ride to treatment in the future to please call me; even if he’s in another relationship that I will take him. That he is worth saving. When he got out of that detox he moved to a different state. No one knew where he went. 2 months later my phone rang it was him, he was back in town and said he had 60 days but lost it 2 days ago and wanted a ride to treatment. I picked him up. He went into detox #8. He has 2 years of sobriety and during that admission wanted to work on our relationship. He told me he finally had a spiritual awakening that Bill W spoke of in the Big Book. That before he was always trying to do it for his ex-wife , for their 4 kids , for his parents . This time he got sober for himself .


    1. My ex won’t admit he has a problem. He won’t seek out help and even if he did come clean, he would more than likely not a have a job, one that he worked incredibly hard for. I think that’s where a lot of it lies. I’ve referred to him as a functioning alcoholic. He doesn’t drink during the day because he values his job. Which also relates to where we stand on the values of importance. Honestly if it were just me and not my children effected, I would probably be doing the same thing as you. However, I’ve lost so much of myself trying to make him happy and let him be to “decompress” that the loneliness of it all became too much to bare. As I’ve said, I’m not completely innocent in this, I have a very demanding job. I have stress compounded by infinity but I don’t drink to solve it. I do smoke cigarettes but I’m not endangering lives on the road everyday. I gave it a few months after leaving to see if there were signs that he would try to slow down or seek help, it only got worse. During those months, my kids and I moved in with my parents just to see if there was any change. There was not obviously, I signed the contract on my new place almost a month ago. My friends didn’t even know I had left until 2 months into it, I was that embarrassed to admit defeat. The turning point for me was when the kids and I went to his “hideout” for lunch. My son reached out to him through text so he knew we were there, literally 3 feet away. He didn’t move, didn’t come over to say Hi or anything. He had been caught. It was the most awkward feeling ever. It honestly felt like I WAS the other woman, like I had interrupted an affair. Such a strange feeling to know the man you were completely in love with, was cheating on you with what lies on the other side of the 4 foot wall. That’s when I knew I was done. I had to move on for the kids and I. He had already drew the line in the sand at that point, so explaining to the kids that he was sick and didn’t want to get better, really made for a heartbreaking conversation, especially where my youngest was concerned 😢 We are all trying to heal and move past all of this but it sure as hell isn’t easy!


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