Bathroom Floors & Wine Bottles: I Hid the Truth of My Abuse In Alcohol & False 'I'm OKs'
Updated: Jul 1, 2022
No one knew how bad I was really suffering, that I had broken then a nearly 28-year stretch of sobriety, wishing that the next sip, or the one after that, would kill me.
I had just come back from the nex's (narcissistic ex) abusive Thanksgiving fiasco, a trauma in more ways than I could bear. It was more the memories than the man that was killing me. Alcohol was never up there as a drug of choice. I keep it around to honor the Ancestors in ceremony, never as a cope.
This was me in a hard tailspin I only gave people tiny glimpses of. The truth may hurt, but turning away doesn't make it less the truth. It also liberates and heals, if we face it. I had an ugly and dangerous secret.
A year later, I'm choosing to pull back the Veil of Secrets that overshadowed me from November 2020, until now.
Instead of drinking my way through the holidays, I'm writing my way through them. I'm not ashamed of my nearly two-month lapse--when I hit 29 years in March 2022, I will own the 2 months as proudly as I do the years when I stood strong against eating disorders and every upper I could get my hands on.
Last year, right after Thanksgiving 2020, I felt shattered by lost hopes, lies, and abuse I thought was decades behind me. I call him nex because it is a dominant impact for which my therapist treated me. There were signs of other diagnoses. It is nothing he claims. My account, my truth is nothing, if I was to listen to him, except when he is over-emoting, trash-talking himself so I would think he gets it, that he is sorry. But none of the behaviors ever change, not the love-bombing, over-reliance on me, coercion, devaluing, and, if I allow it to get that far, the hard discard, and more.
This is to say nothing of the abuse and rage if I did one thing he didn't like, like refuse to concede that his behavior was not abusive, in the first place. Defending myself was a sign that I have and am the problem. I couldn't win. I cleaned his home. Not enough. When he flew into a rage for no reason, and I calmed his terrified child, while I myself was also terrified, not enough. Simply saying, "Good Morning," would get me this response. "I'm playing my game so I don't kill you." My heart broke in too many ways, too many times to count. He covertly engaged cyberporn and mocked me online, and more.
In the aftermath of all that, I was broken, felt broken. And I didn't see much reason to keep fighting. The bottom of the bottle became my only solace, amid my nightmares, his taunts, putdowns, rages, and more. I couldn't handle it, or anything. I was already battling health issues and a corrupt Commonwealth, believing him and crashing into ...all that was just more than I could bear, let alone process.
The bathroom floor and a bottle of wine were where (and how) I spent many a night trying to drink away the memory of him, the pain he caused, the physical pain I couldn't get rid of from his irresponsible hygiene habits, blaming myself as if every one of his condemnations must have been true.
I'd never be good enough anyway, my shadow and the booze would whisper to me (often in his voice) as I lost myself in the spirit of numbness, and blind self-harm. It was a lie I then believed and I kept drinking because not drinking meant I had to feel what I was running from, memory and trauma, a cesspool of the past and present I felt I couldn't keep my head above.
What I was doing to myself was no better than the cesspool. I just chose something else to drown in. I always say to people I'm a good, multi-use addict. I kept that secret, locked tight in shadow, and therefore became, as they say in those circles, as sick as my secrets.
I knew but didn't care. My longing for death was greater. I would never drink when I had to see a doctor. I'd buy enough bottles for the weekend, the number I needed to get through the "still" days, when there were no appointments and I could not keep busy.
Full disclosure? The drugs I'm on are not ones that are safe for me to have been drinking, and not that much. I'd hydrate a little before bed, again the next day, drink coffee, and start all over again.
Somewhere in the middle of the maladaptive cope, sitting in a tight ball on the bathroom floor, I found an online support group for women survivors of narcissistic abuse. I joined one, then another, then another. I mostly read the stories recognizing many of the same patterns and behaviors that were so destructive to our relationship and to me. One day, I responded to a women's story--in truth, there were so many heartbreaking stories.
One day, a woman wrote, "You are so wise and amazing. How did he even get close to you?" It stunned me, maybe it stunned me awake.
I started video journaling, working with my therapist more, but keeping the drinking problem to myself. I started sharing with one of my sisters how low I felt. It was the beginning of the crack that let the light in.
My drinking begin to trail off until I shifted my focus more on how to become healthier... But not telling anyone what I did to myself was a mistake, a darkness that would lead me back to him, in the most winding of ways. Addiction comes in many forms, and stress is a trigger.
The feds took my pain and supportive pancreatic meds away in April. I broke like a glass plate hitting the floor. Just because I wasn't drinking didn't mean I was healthy. He is an addict too. Just because he isn't using drugs doesn't mean he does not have other addictions, other damage that make him unhealthy--the damage was calling to damage. Much like 20 years ago, he was not good for me. I tell more of our story in the series I just started, "Love at First Nightmare..."
I never told him the full effect of his November abuse. He didn't ask. He was too busy with his food addiction and asking what I could bring into his life to help him get healthy, lose weight, deal with various medical issues he had in November, some of which he blamed me for. All this, while I paid the high price for one, while he resumed love-bombing (hear I soaked it up) the shit out of me as he always has any time I've let him in my life in the last year.
But I see now that I was not living my full truth, that our relationship had chasms we had not dealt with from 20 years ago and that we had mutual fear of each other--I of his use and abuse history, rage and narcissistic and other leanings; he was afraid (though he said it but never connected it to present day) of the fact that I was the only woman he could never get away with lying to. He used to also call me the "shrimpiest gangsta" he has ever met because I would never back down from him, calling his lies out with truths I took the time to prove in one way or another.
He hated that when necessary, I'd call authorities, and was not sorry. I was a single woman living alone and would never sacrifice my safety at the altar of any man. If silence and compliance were his terms, if they would come at the expense of my health, welfare, and sanity? Hard pass. I'm strong enough to feel this pain and stand alone. Today, I'm not on the bathroom floor, not holding a wine bottle, not trying to drink myself, the memory of him and the pain he caused away, let alone out of this world.
A year later, the bottles sit empty under my altar, a stark reminder of the grave place I was in and of where I never intend to allow him or anyone to send me again.
This is my truth; it liberates and heals. I wield it with self-love and refuse to sacrifice it for his or anyone else's comfort. I survived through some grace, not of this world, and write the new series about this two-decade-old relationship because it happened to me, and it is a story that can help many. One day, I will produce a project that will embody that story and others and we will be a force in recovery.
I am one of many. It is my intent to add my voice so that others may heal from this type and all abusive relationships. We do not deserve this. But to rise from this, we have to own our part, own our damage, reclaim our own voices, take back our power, and write a different destiny, a new one. It is in our power. It is in my power, and I intend to use it.
"...And it's crazy how lately now
It just seems to come in waves
What I thought was gonna be the death of me, Was my saving grace."
--Luke Combs, "When It Rains It Pours"