If you can’t beat em, join them.

I have talked about it lightly in other posts, but wanted to touch on it with a bit more depth in this post. Because I think it’s real, and I think it happens more than most would like to admit. If you can’t beat the addiction, then join them in it. I knew for a while that my husbands drinking was starting to get excessive. It wasn’t really obvious to everyone else because we were still social drinkers but it was obvious to me because we lived together. I was seeing the patterns develop before my eyes. The drinking right after work. The drinking well into the night. 1 bottle of wine a night…and not the small bottles…the big ones. But I didn’t want to see the pattern starting for one very important reason. If I started to point out his excessiveness then I would have to stop,too. That was not an option. So instead of making an issue out of it, I made a conscious decision to not bring it up. I gave in and let the addiction start to wash over both of us. I knew what I was doing and I knew what I was, in essence, saying: “If I make him give it up, then I will have to do it too and I like to drink so I am just going to pretend that nothing is wrong and join in as well.” It was a great plan, right? The more you drink together the less of a problem either of you both have because one of you just can’t stop and start pointing the finger. You might be able to start having a conversation on the amount you drink by saying “have you noticed that we have been drinking a lot lately” and see what kind of reaction you get. They might agree with you. You might make some kind of pact that you will lay off of it for a while. You might even make it for a whole month. The problem is, no matter what method you try, the chemical has already affected your body chemistry. You might be able to pull back for a designated period of time but the chemical has already won because after this designated time period you are back to drinking the same amount if not more. What it comes down to is the amount that you consume and how much your tolerance level has increased as the addiction has progressed. Most people don’t see it at the time because you are still “functional”. I can say that we were both functional. We worked. We paid our bills. We had days when we didn’t drink. We were active. I like to run and would keep up my running (I would actually run to work off the calories from the alcohol…genius plan there). But what we did at night was our business and on the very few days when we didn’t drink, we would drink excessively at night. The amount that we had built a tolerance for was…well…probably frightening. We could probably consume two bottles of wine at this point…so basically one a piece. We might have a slight fuzziness in the morning but by lunch it had passed and we felt normal again. Just in time for an afternoon beverage. And so the cycle continued. It’s hard to feel like you have a problem when you have a buddy with you…purchasing it on the way home from work. It’s hard to feel like you might have a problem when you are both consuming the same amounts, but I knew it would all come crashing down at some point. And it did…

I became pregnant with our first child. The reality of our life and how deep into the addiction we had gotten hit hard. It wasn’t difficult for me to stop when I found out I was pregnant. It was like a switch went off and there was no option. I decided not to drink during my whole pregnancy. Plenty of people enjoy a glass of wine here and there while pregnant but I decided the risk wasn’t worth it to me (that was my personal choice and not for everyone). So I stopped and he kept going. I started to wake up out of the fog we had been in and I realized exactly how bad and how much. When you don’t have your buddy anymore then you start to feel isolated, alone, and different. All of those feelings started for him during that time. I couldn’t join him anymore and I had to face some solid patterns we had established together that were incredibly unhealthy for our future family. It was frightening. I realized he couldn’t stop and he wasn’t about to listen to me tell him that he needed to. I didn’t have a good track record myself so why should he suddenly take anything I have to say on the matter seriously. In a way, I had helped create the problem. I didn’t stop it. I didn’t fight it. I let it all happen for selfish reasons. I regret it. There isn’t much I wish I could go back and change except for this one decision I made: when I started to recognize some warning signs, I didn’t do anything to help…and like I said, I probably made it easier for it to happen. It was such an immature response to something so devastating starting in our lives. I didn’t wave the flag and say “wait a minute, we might have a problem here.” All I could selfishly think about was what it would mean for us. How different our lives would be and how much would have to change. We wouldn’t be able to enjoy going out with friends anymore or going on vacations and enjoying some cocktails. That’s what I thought about. ME. We had both been in the hospital and watched his father pass from giving in to his addiction to alcohol and still continued on like we would be some kind of exception to the drug. But we had to find out the hard way that this drug makes no exceptions. It doesn’t care how successful you are in business. It doesn’t care if you have kids. It doesn’t care if you have future plans. It only wants one thing and that’s to get more. It may happen gradually or it may happen quickly. But I urge you, if you see the potential in your life for it to happen then really think about why you need to continue on with it. I have heard people say, “well, we all die of something and we might as well die happy”. That’s a scary concession to make. There is too much to live for and so much we CAN control like our consumption of addicting chemicals. I would rather die from something I had no control over than something I could have prevented and controlled. It’s just that simple. Don’t buy into the lie of being an exception.

P.S. I wouldn’t change a thing about our lives now. We are happy with who we have become and continue to become. Those small things I worried about (like not having dinner out with friends and enjoying some wine or having it on vacation)…that was all such minor stuff compared to the great life that God has now laid out before us. I wouldn’t trade this new adventure for anything I had envisioned for myself.

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