Day 11 yesterday.
Hey, I’m learning the lingo. A trigger is something that consistently makes you want to drink.
I discovered one trigger last night. Something I knew but never thought about in this specific way. I had a busy day at work, and then I was due to meet the family and go to dinner with hubby’s mom and stepdad. They were in town for one night as part of another trip they are taking, and we all went out to dinner.
It was arranged that I would walk over to the hotel right from work, while my husband picked up the girls and drove there. I was delighted at how the timing worked out, because I had a free hour after work before our meeting time. I used that time to go the gym (hurray) and then walked over to the hotel. Just before I got there I pulled out my phone and found my husband had been trying to call me for forty-five minutes. “Five missed calls, two new voicemails,” my phone informed me.
I am a notorious flake when it comes to my phone. In fact, I resisted getting a cell phone at all for many years. I told my husband that this was to save us money, but really it’s because I didn’t want the responsibility. Remembering to take it with me every time I leave the house. Remembering to charge it. Remembering to turn the ringer off for movies and such, and then remembering to turn it on again afterward. Remembering to check it periodically to see if I missed any calls. Plus, I just really don’t enjoy being available all the time. It is, quite literally, being “on call.”
When I called my husband back, he asked me abruptly, sounding stressed, “Are you all right?” I said I was and I had just forgotten to check my phone, and this made him even more exasperated. One thing that happened on the day is that my husband was trying to call me repeatedly, while I was busy throwing up and passing out and impaling myself on forks and scaring my daughter to death. This naturally has made him somewhat jumpy and unsettled whenever he can’t get ahold of me. He asked me specifically to try to be more conscientious about taking my phone with me and checking it, and I have been, until yesterday. I don’t think he really thought I was boozing it up on a bar, but he was stressed anyway because he was running late and stuck in traffic with two girls in the car saying over and over again, “Daddy, I’m hungry! Are we there yet?”
So, I totally understand. But hearing the snap in his voice immediately triggered in me a combination of guilt (reminder of that day), resentment (hey, I wasn’t drinking, I was at the gym!), an instinct to snap back at him (it was only forty-five minutes, lay off me buddy!), and then an almost overwhelming desire to drown that instinct in a glass of something alcoholic. My husband and I both have a tendency to get irritable when we are stressed. When I do it, my husband is really good at staying calm and helping me resolve the source of the stress and not taking my irritability personally. When he does it, I would love to return the favor, but instead all I want to do is snap back.
I’m sad to say that one way I have discovered to smother that instinct is take a drink. I’d rather have a drink than have a fight, I would tell myself. (See how easy that is? I got to drink AND feel virtuous, almost altruistic about it! What a good wife!)
So here I was, swimming in all these emotions, standing outside a hotel with the doorman holding the door open for me, and seeing my mother-in-law and stepfather-in-law smiling at me, waiting for me in the lobby. So what did I do? What could I do? I apologized to my husband, I got off the phone, and put a big smile on my face, and went inside. When my husband arrived, he hugged me and apologized. We had dinner (no one was drinking, thank God), we chatted. It was a nice meal.
Later that night, after we were home, I tried to tell my husband about this stew of emotions (we’re supposed to be open and honest, right? Not bottle up our feelings, right?), and he felt so bad. But he shouldn’t, he really shouldn’t. He’s an amazing, wonderful, supportive, and forgiving husband, but he’s not perfect, and I can’t let him feel that he has to be perfect for me not to drink.
Sigh. I’m telling you, this shit’s hard.