Thoughts with Richard Bleil
She said she could control it, and I believed her. My wife was a recovering alcoholic when I met her, but I brought wine to her house for our first date. I always had wine in my house in case I had visitors, but nobody ever visited, and I never really drank. As such, it was mostly all too old, and, yes, wine does go bad. It has a peak for the best time to drink, so you do want to let it age a bit, but not too much. It wasn’t much later until I learned that she was, in fact, a recovering alcoholic.
She went through a progression, and being ignorant of alcoholism, I was an ignorant enabler. She was very proud of herself because she could control it. At least at first. She re-assured me that yes, she could restrict her alcohol intake. She limited herself to keep from sliding back into a full-blown alcoholic, but, unfortunately, she was already on her way.
It started as only every other weekend when her children were at their father’s house, and always just a beer or two. She didn’t want her kids to see her drink, so her control was making sure they weren’t around. And, for a while, she maintained. Eventually, she switched to her favorite drink, vodka and water although very light on the water. It looks like water (or so she thought, but I could always tell), and insisted it wasn’t detectable on her breath, but it was. And because it looked like water, she transitioned from only drinking when the boys were away to only on the weekends, even with the boys there. It snuck up from just one or two drinks to more, especially when we were out. I guess I made her feel safe, so she would drink to the point of becoming drunk, but, only when we were out.
The alcohol was whispering lies into her ear, far louder than my voice as I pleaded with her to stop. She began buying wine by the cases and drinking the vast majority of entire bottles of vodka in a sitting. The alcohol told her that she’s strong enough to control her drinking and control the alcohol. Then it congratulated her on her strength in only drinking when she wanted because, clearly, she could stop at any time. It told her that, clearly, since she could control it with just one bottle of vodka, she must not have ever really been an alcoholic at all.
And all I could do is watch. I watched her lie to me that there’s no alcohol in the house after finding her half empty bottle of vodka hidden in the bathroom. I watcher her insist it was just water when it wasn’t. I watched her drinking increase from every weekend to every night. I watched as my sweet, intelligent wife transformed into a bitter, spiteful alcoholic. I watched as our relationship came to an end.
Today, my friend posted on her social media page that she was holiday shopping at the largest store in her little town. A friend of hers asked if she tried the marvelous free alcohol drink they were handing out to shoppers, to which she replied that, yes, she took a sip, then handed the rest to her friend since she was driving. So, I sent her a message, and asked if she was a recovering alcoholic, and she told me she was. Then she told me that she is, but it’s okay. She can control it. She rarely drinks at all, and it’s only, maybe, three beers. And my demons came screaming back.
And now I’m scared out of my mind. I truly do love this friend, but I also know that I cannot force her to do anything. Any action must come from her own decision, and all I can do, all I could do with Sarah, was to watch. I lost my wife forever, and I fear it might happen again.
There’s a good chance that my friend is reading this, and I only hope that she doesn’t become too upset with me. But I’m scared. She has been so successful at turning her life around, returning to school and just had a great academic achievement. My wife went back to school, but I had to watch as her priorities shifted from academics to the bottle, lying to her and telling her that with her control, she couldn’t possibly lose everything. But she did.
God, I love my friend so much, but I don’t want to lose her. I feel like a widower because the sweet intelligent beautiful woman I had married died, leaving behind the alcoholic that I had to get away from before she took me down with her. I hope my friend knows that I am here for her and would be happy to help her battle this demon in any way that I can, but I can’t fight the fight for her even though I would if it were possible. It has to come from her.