In truth, drinking is part of the reason I’m getting divorced.
I don’t get abusive when I’m drunk, it’s not that. But avoiding reality and escaping into my comfort zone has meant I haven’t stepped up to my potential, and it’s eroded my wife’s respect for me.
Ultimately, her love.
Why I drink is for another post. I have my pain and my excuses. But it comes down to not wanting to take responsibility.
I just want to articulate why I’m doing it right now.
So I’ll break it down into three parts: The situation, the pain, and the coping strategy.
When me and my wife met, we enabled each other to be free and express ourselves in ways we hadn’t dreamt of before. It was a very exciting time.
The party fizzled out after a couple of years. I could have happily kept it going. But she’s a real adult and wanted marriage and kids, and her career started to really take off.
Then there were a couple of stressful times when she needed me to step up, and I didn’t. The first cracks in the ice.
We’re also very different.
Polarity can be compelling, and at first we collided in a beautiful way; exploding off each other and becoming more than we were before.
As time went on though, the friction became less pleasant and more obvious.
We got married, and two years ago our daughter was born. Our beautiful, incredible, funny, clever girl. She’s perfect. More than either of us could ever wish for.
We moved out of our Brighton flat and into our family home. But the cracks were already widening.
Then, just over a year ago, she told me she wanted to leave me.
She just didn’t love me anymore.
We muddled along for a year, had counselling, and I buried my head in the sand. Until she decided she’d made her mind up. Now our house is for sale and we’re getting offers.
It’s happening. It’s becoming real.
I’ll be honest. If it were just me and my wife I’d probably walk away. It would be hard, but the best thing for both of us.
But it’s not just us. There’s our precious little girl.
What we’re doing will tear her foundations apart. And I don’t fucking know how to handle that.
We obviously won’t tell her until it’s necessary, but it’s coming.
I know she would want her mummy and daddy to be together. What else could a child want?
We’re her family. Her safety and protection, her base.
I might be projecting my own feelings and sensitivity onto her. But right now, it’s a pain I find so hard to face:
When I imagine what she’ll go through when we finally tell her, in the most positive language we can muster
…that mummy and daddy won’t be living together anymore. That she’ll have two homes now, and be able to play in two houses. That we both love her more than anything; and that it’s not her fault. And we’ll still be a family no matter what… just in a different way.
It just rips my heart in two.
I’m crying so hard trying to write this.
The Coping Strategy
So I drink.
Not all the time but every day.
And every morning I really truly want to do things differently today.
I want to step up and be the best version of me. And face my fears properly and be the man and the father she needs me to be.
But it’s so fucking hard. It hurts so much and I don’t know how to deal with it.
And I reach for my comfort blanket once again.
I know that grieving is important.
In fact, the pain of this situation has triggered grief that I’ve held onto since my parents divorced when I was twelve, and I’ve felt its healing power.
The release of grief is like letting go of emotional sewage that’s been poisoning you for decades. And it comes in waves.
But when I’m back at the precipice with the rocks crumbling at my feet, the fear of going there again is so strong.
I don’t want to be open. I want to feel safe.
And I realised a while ago that that’s what alcohol gives me. It makes me feel safe.
Perhaps it conceals my emotions. Or more likely I still feel them but I don’t care as much.
It helps me dissociate from the pain just enough to weather it out.
But I know it’s a shallow grave.
The way forward, eventually, is to feel everything and go through the darkness.
To feel the fear and trust that I’ll come out the other side.
I do want that. Just not tonight.
Waiting for courage is not the answer, I know. But tomorrow is another day.