I Knew It Wouldn’t Last

by the wife of a fire chief

I met my husband in 1997 in a bar. That should have been my first clue.  I was out having a couple of drinks with friends.  He was out alone.  Things started going downhill almost immediately after we were married.  When I was pregnant with our daughter, we went to a Christmas party for my employer and my husband got embarrassingly intoxicated.  On the way home, I had to pull over to the side of the road so he could vomit. Once home, he spent the night on the bathroom floor to be near the toilet.

A day after our first wedding anniversary, I gave birth to our daughter.  By the time she was six months old, my husband was up to a 12-pack of beer a night.  I can vividly remember a night when I came home from work and he had eight or nine empty beer cans on the coffee table in front of him with our daughter cradled in his arms.  I was livid.  I thought the least he could do was put down the beer and spend time with his baby girl…sober.

In 2006, he had an epiphany of some sort and he quit cold turkey.  I was elated.  For six years, life at home was finally “normal.”  Our marriage was good, no tension; we were happy again.  But, deep down I knew it wouldn’t last.

In May of 2012, he started drinking again…hard.  Our daughter walked on eggshells at every turn.  It was torture on her. She kept saying to me, “I wish he would just stay away.”  We would have to be quiet when he was home so as not to make him mad or so that he could watch TV, instead of interacting with us like she and I longed for.

He would have at least four large vodka 7up drinks every single night.  People say vodka doesn’t smell.  Yes, it does.  It absolutely reeks as it comes out of the pores of a person’s skin.

Therefore, I refused to sleep in the same bed with him.  Every night my daughter and I witnessed him slowly slump over on the sofa during the course of a two to three hours and eventually pass out.  Then, in the wee hours of the morning, he would “wake up” and go to bed.  I seriously thought that I was going to wake up one morning to find him dead from alcohol poisoning.  I mentally prepared myself for that every morning as I went to wake him for work.  At one point, as heartless as this may sound, it didn’t matter anymore.  He was making these choices on his own.  He was not considering what he was doing to his family.  He was only thinking of himself.  I could do nothing to stop him.  Nothing.

One morning, as I was checking my Facebook page, I found a gentleman named Don who was a counselor at a recovery treatment center. He had been in the fire service and the information he shared peaked my interest because my husband was currently fire chief in our small town.  I talked to him extensively in hopes that I could convince my husband to get into treatment at a facility. He was so helpful and sympathetic and supportive.  I do NOT know what I would have done without his support in my most desperate and darkest of times.  I absolutely thank God that he was there to reach out to.

Needless to say, my husband refused treatment even after Don sent him information on the facility that he had recommended. There was an adamant stubbornness about my husband and he absolutely refused the help that was offered to him. Even though he admitted that he was an alcoholic, he was going to quit on his own. The drinking continued night after night…and I continued to turn to Don for support. He was always there to talk to and offer guidance.

My husband’s drinking was so bad that several times he would empty a water bottle, mix a drink and pour it into the water bottle and take it to fire meetings so he could drink while he was conducting meetings. Regrettably, he would also go on rescue calls or fire calls after he had been drinking. I was extremely worried about the people he was going to rescue. There was a very high liability there and, in a roundabout sort of way, I felt responsible for their lives and well-being. I felt a huge amount of stress whenever my husband’s pager would go off.

Our daughter suffered greatly. At the time of my husband’s greatest drinking, she was 14 years old. She retreated to her bedroom every time she heard the garage door open. When he was home, she didn’t want to be anywhere near him. He never pieced it together. He didn’t care or take the initiative to see what was wrong with their relationship. Eventually, I approached him and told him that if he didn’t get into the treatment facility that was recommended, I was going to move out with our daughter until he got help. As I suspect with most, if not all alcoholics, he was very convincing in telling us that he could do it on his own and, like a fool, I believed him. We stayed together as a family. That lasted 5 months.

My husband and I are now in the proceedings of getting a divorce. I sincerely believe that his drinking is due to some unresolved, very deep-seeded unhappiness, which also led to his unfaithfulness.

I am very happy to say that my daughter and I are now at peace in our own place. We no longer fear the noise of the garage door opening and knowing what the next several hours of each and every night will hold for us. We are now in a cozy home…at peace and alone…together. My soon-to-be ex-husband is still drinking. I know this for a fact. He is now inflicting this pain on a different family, this time with younger children than my daughter. I hold no bitterness towards him, I only wish him peace and I wish him a way out of his pain. I wish he would find and accept the help he so desperately needs.