I started my day like I started most days--with a cup of coffee. Tonight we had a party to go to. It was Saturday, but I felt no joy. I hadn't felt much joy in a long time. It would sneak in on occasion, give me a glimpse of something bright and shiny and then be gone as if it never existed.
My mind felt heavy. And as I consequence my body felt heavy. The thought of a birthday party for a friend lightened my spirits a bit. She lived down the road from us about a mile.
I thought briefly about what it was going to be like to go to a social event with my wife. I never knew. Sometimes it would be good, and we would enjoy the occasion. Other times it would be a disaster. She would get drunk, I would get angry and the whole evening and most of the night would evolve into a downward spiral. God, I hoped that tonight would be okay.
We cooked up a dish for the party and got together the birthday present and card. My wife had a drink "just to relax". That's not a good sign I thought. But just maybe that will be it for the evening.
I watch her at the party, not all the time, but in a furtive way. Sneaking a glance every now and then. I'm having a good time actually, taking to friends and enjoying the food. Where is C? I look around the house but can't find her.
I go out to the screened porch and see her sitting on a bench in the corner. She's drinking a tumbler of wine. I ask her how she is and she says that she's okay, just enjoying sitting out here on the porch. Her words are slurring, and she has that far away look in her eyes.
I ask if she's ready to go. She says that she isn't ready. I could feel her isolation and sarcasm as she said for me to "go back inside with your friends and enjoy the party." I also felt anger rise up in me. I'm been here, right here in this situation so many times. Why can't I have a good time? Why can't I go to a social occasion without walking on egg shells?
Later C. came in from the porch. She was really drunk now, swaying a bit. She said "Good night" and went out the front door towards the car. I caught up with her as she was trying to get the door open.
I tell her that I don't think she should drive. She tells me again to "go back inside with your friends and have fun". I say, "Damn it C., I don't think that you should drive". She told me that she was driving, got in, started the car and drove off.
I could feel my anxiety tearing at my guts. My mouth felt as dry as cotton. I went back inside and said all the polite good byes to the hostess. Then I walked home.
This was the end of it all for me. Or close to it. There were several more arguments. There were tears and accusations. But within 2 to 3 months after this "watershed" event, I told C. that I was leaving her. I no longer cared what she did or how much she drank. I told her that she could have the house, the property. I would keep my car and my savings. I wanted out.
I talked to a good friend that night who told me that I needed to get to an Al-Anon meeting. And that's how I came to show up at my first meeting.
And when I said that I was going to Al-Anon, C. said that she needed help, didn't want to lose me, and decided to go to an AA meeting the next night.
And that, my friends, is what happened.