Drinking and Domestic Abuse: Sobriety Fixes Nothing

sobriety did not solve our problems either - he continued acting like a jerk and I kept breaking downWe (meaning “soldiers”) did a lot of drinking in Germany. Alcohol became a way of life, but it was very new to me. Will was angrier when he was drinking, but I was more fun-loving. The two extremes of our personalities didn’t mix well.

I admit the problem was more than our polarized drunken personalities, though.

Drinking vs. Alcoholism

I started weekend drinking at Fort Lee on our weekends off from AIT (advanced infantry training). I was 19, away from home, and drinking regularly for the first time in my life. It was social for me; I could take it or leave it.

I made the mistake of assuming Will was at the same place as I was with alcohol. I didn’t know that he’d drank alcohol since he was 12. I didn’t know he was an alcoholic (Detaching from an Alcoholic). I’m sure my inebriated state helped to block the truth.

I stopped drinking a long time ago, right after I found out I was pregnant with Marc. I don’t even look back on that time with too much fondness. I sowed plenty of wild oats and do not have the itch to return!

About three years into our marriage, Will stopped drinking for 8 years. He didn’t admit he was an alcoholic, only that his drinking seemed to cause us problems and he wanted to solve them. He was dry as a bone. Except for sneaking out and smoking pot with his friends, brother, cousins…

Sobriety Did Not Solve Our Problems

During his sobriety, our problems worsened! I was in shock. He fed on my confusion saying, “I did MY part! I changed!” I began thinking that I was the crazy one! I had banked on his sobriety “fixing us”, and when it didn’t, I went into a tailspin of depression. I started taking antidepressants when I was 26.

Drinking lowers inhibitions – it lets you be “more you.” Drinking doesn’t change who you are-it lets you be exactly who you are. Drinking lets the abuser cut loose and be more abusive – it does not change who they are.

When Will came home from war in 2004, he decided to start drinking again. I wondered about PTSD, but he said war was his job and he was not stressed because of his job. He said, “I think my temper got in the way when I was young. I don’t act like that anymore.” (Says him!)

A part of me knew that his decision to pick up the bottle again was the beginning of the end. But I didn’t admit that to anyone.

Through all of those years, I did not realize that he emotionally abused me. He put his hands on me four times that I can remember during our marriage (four times too many!), and although I knew he’d physically abused me, I didn’t have a clue about the underlying emotional, mental and verbal abuse.

I didn’t ask the right questions, I guess.

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  1. I never drink. He drinks a lot, but is not an alcoholic. Drinking makes him angry, irritable, nasty

    • Drinking allows him to show how angry, irritable and nasty he can be – how ugly he wants to be. It doesn’t “make him” those things, it only emphasizes them. Be careful, Nikky44.

  2. Nikky44 – One thing I’ve discovered is that drinking doesn’t “make” someone do anything. Drinking only emphasizes what is already there. Alcohol frees our inhibitions and “allows” us to be more of who we already are. Drinking does NOT change us into monsters unless the monster already lives inside.

  3. I decided that, as a courtesy to my verbally-abusive, alcoholic husband of 27 years who is slowly killing himself by drinking a pint and a half a vodka daily, I would appeal to to district court in our area to have him involuntarily committed to a substance abuse treatment facility. That was three weeks ago. During these weeks, my children and I have had such a peaceful break from his drunken meanness and verbally-abusive tirades. We’ve also been free of witnessing his near comatose presence all day and all night, as he would languish on the sofa in front of the tv that he demanded to be incessantly blaring round the clock. Today he got out of rehab, because he had completed the minimum required stay. One week into his three-week rehab stay, I told him there was too much damage between him and me and between him and our children for him to return home. And so he made arrangements to stay with a family member. Upon his release at 11am today, the facility shuttled him to our house so he could get his car and some of his belongings. It was 2:45pm when our paths crossed in the driveway, a mere 3.75 hours out of rehab. But, to my dismay, he was already under the influence and stinking of booze. My only solace is that he is not in the house with us anymore. This is a very important victory and long-awaited step in the start of my own recovery.

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