Saturday, March 20, 2010

Caught In The Web ~ Part Four of the Snapshots from Before Series

"Wake up."    I hear a voice; a faraway voice.

"Ellie, I said wake UP."

My consciousness surfaces slowly.    My head feels swimmy, disconnected.    I open one eye, the sunlight sears my brain.    I see the fuzzy outline of my husband standing next to the bed.   He's holding something in his right hand, and he looks angry.

"What time is it?"   I mumble, glancing at the clock:   9:30am.   What day is it?  I hear cartoons blaring from the television downstairs. Saturday.   My last clear memory of the night before is of spooning ice cream into dishes for the kids.  Dessert. 

"Do you want to explain to me what this is?"  he asks.    I rub my eyes, and now I can see his face clearly.   He looks livid.    My thoughts race - I don't remember having a fight last night.   Did we have a fight?    I know we watched a movie on the couch.   Then we went to bed, right?   Damn.   What movie did we see?   That part is a little hazy.   "Did you eat breakfast yet?"  I ask in order to buy some time.

"Please.  Explain.  THIS," he says through clenched teeth.

I drop my eyes to his right hand and panic jolts me fully awake.   He is holding a half empty bottle of white wine.  

"I found this in the washing machine," he says.   "Under the wet clothes.   I thought I'd do some laundry, and I found this."

Crazily, my first thought is:   I was looking everywhere for that last night.   

I'm too sleepy to think quickly, and besides - what can I possibly say?   This is the moment I have been dreading for months, and I'm frozen with fear.

"You are an alcoholic, Ellie," he says, with surprising calm. He's never said the A word before.

No I'm not, no I'm not, no I'm not, please God anything but that I'm not I'm not I'm not.

"I know it must look weird, but I can explain," I begin.   Think, Ellie, think.   How can I possibly explain this?   That one of the kids dropped it in there? 

"STOP," he says.   "Just stop.  No more explanations.   You need help.  You're an alcoholic.  What the hell is going on, Ellie?   Don't try to explain this away.   Just DON'T."

My heart is pounding, my mind racing.   "Okay, I won't," I stammer.  And then, of course, I start explaining.  

"I don't hide it all the time."    Liar.  Liar.  Liar.  "It's just that sometimes I like to drink more than you at night, and I don't want you to judge me.  So I hide it."   I hang my head, try to look contrite, but I'm thinking:   please don't pour it out, please don't pour it out, please don't pour it out.  I'm so scared, and if you pour it out I'll never make it.

"I'm pouring this out," he says, and my mind goes white with fear.    "And then we're calling someone, somewhere, and you're getting some help."

Don't look scared, I think.   Don't let him see how scared you are, you need to come up with a plan.

I stand up and hug him.  "Thank you," I say, calmly.   "I know I need help.  I know I drink too much.   This is probably the best thing that could possibly happen."     He gives me a stiff one-armed hug, holding the half full bottle away from his body like a smelly dead animal.  

He walks into the bathroom, and I hear the chugga chugga chugga as the wine goes down the sink.  

I come up with a plan.

"Let me just get dressed, then I'll go get us something good to fix for breakfast,"  I say brightly. 

He looks at me strangely for a moment.   "You will get help?   You admit you're an alcoholic?" 

"I know I drink too much.   I know what I need to do.   It will be okay,"   I say as I pull on jeans and a sweater.  "We'll go online and find a meeting.   I'll go tonight."   Tonight feels about a million years away. I just need to get through the next few hours, and I'll be okay.

"How about pancakes for breakfast?"   I say, forcing a smile.

As I rummage in my purse for the car keys,   I furtively cast my eyes to the clock.   10am.   Perfect. 

I can get more.


  1. Thank you for your snapshots. They are so honest and brave.


  2. Wow Ellie. The way you capture your thoughts and write them here is amazing. At just 20 days sober I feel like both an angel and devil on your shoulder through the conversations you had with your husband. I can completely relate to what you're feeling, but now I'm slowly starting to realize what he must have felt. Thank you for sharing these moments.

  3. The snapshot, the moment in the past, caught with your words, and feelings - it's amazing. Thank you.

  4. Ellie - I found your blog a week ago, which led me to Crying Out Now and one week ago I wrote my husband a letter that if I continued drinking I was going to die. Today is the seventh day. There hasn't been a magical transformation, the same nervousness and anxiety that started me on the path to alcohol addiction are still with me, but each moment that passes I feel a little stronger. Knowing that I am not the only mommy in a pretty house with a nice husband, beautiful children, and a scary secret - knowing there is a sisterhood of women out there - is giving me strength. Thank you so much. In a way you helped save me, or gave me the hope and strength to save myself.

  5. Leslie - 7 days is HUGE. Good for you. Good for you for reaching inside yourself and finding the strength and hope to save yourself -- I think people who can stare down addiction are some of the bravest people out there. The nervousness and anxiety was a big part of my drinking, too. I thought I drank to make it better. Turned out that the drinking was making it SO much worse. It took some time for me to realize that - weeks, probably - but one day I realized I wasn't having that constant, chronic anxiety. Just the regular anxiety of life.

    Keep talking - and thanks so much for your comment. I'm cheering you on like mad.


  6. Oh Ellie, I'm in tears. I know those feelings far too well.

  7. I just want to say that I'm sitting here on a Saturday morning catching up with your words and I'm so grateful for them. For you. These snapshots remind me of the insanity I was experiencing even though, like I said last night, I like to pretend that my problem was very small. It was going to look exactly like yours...within weeks actually. I mean, of course, we're different. But I was headed toward putting my wine in the washer. Ryan had only confronted me once about the amount of liquor in a bottle and I experienced these exact panicked feelings while I thought something up quick quick quick. It's a skinny bottle, I don't know, you had some too, I don't think there was very much in there in the first place....He knew, but he allowed the lies to preserve himself, to protect both of us with codependency, and I know that he would have continued that. We would have become an even more ugly mess than we were. I need to remember that. (Sorry, just rambling and thinking out loud :)

  8. Oh Ellie, I'm in tears. I know those feelings far too well.

  9. The snapshot, the moment in the past, caught with your words, and feelings - it's amazing. Thank you.