Read Part I here.
After the St. Martin incident, 9 months passed, and I never saw my husband pick up a drink. I didn’t ask him to give up alcohol – it was his choice. Neither of us talked about it, but I figured he was proving to himself that he didn’t have to drink.
Then a family friend showed up for a visit and told us she was divorcing her husband. We had spent holidays and countless dinner parties with this couple, and the news shocked us. She brought a bottle of wine and we sat down to talk. He looked at me – I remember it – searching for my approval to serve himself. He opened the bottle and poured us all a glass.
And that was that.
Not too long afterwards, we hosted a birthday party for our 3-year-old son and invited some close neighbors and his parents. We spent a nice afternoon on the patio, eating and drinking and yapping it up. By nightfall, the other guests had left and only his parents remained. We took the party indoors, where his drinking continued. When his parents decided it was time to go home, I panicked. He was sitting in a chair, all glassy-eyed and wobbly with slurred words, and I pulled my mother-in-law aside and begged her not to leave me. She brushed me off with an “Oh, Lisa… you’ll be fine,” with a “you’re so dramatic” undertone. They left.
I don’t remember a lot about that night, but I think that was when he punched the column in the garage. I was scared to death. I’m pretty sure I just went straight to bed and avoided any conversation with him.
I never consciously sat down and made a decision to leave my husband. But the past year’s events took a toll, and I was not a happy person. My nerves were shot and I was afraid of my own spouse. I needed to be able to eliminate the daily fear in order to think clearly and figure out what to do to take care of myself and my children.
One Sunday afternoon at my house, after a visit from his parents, I sat everyone down at the kitchen table, sent the children outside to play, and told the family we had a problem. I was too afraid of Mr. N/A’s temper to approach him without some support. I said that I wanted Mr. N/A to attend AA, and that I needed him to move out for a little while so I could get myself together. I was thinking he would just go stay with his parents, get sober, and all would be well. After all, when his sister relapsed and kept drunk-dialing me, telling me how much she loved me while ice was clinking in her glass at the other end of the line, I shared my suspicions with the family and they seemed grateful that I called it out and made them aware.
But I did not get a loving reaction. Instead, my father-in-law almost jumped across the table at me. He bellowed, “Who are YOU?” and insulted my housekeeping abilities (like this had anything at all to do with his son’s alcoholism). His fucked up daughter was one thing, but I was messing with his golden child here.
I looked to my mother-in-law for help and asked her if she was going to sit there and let him talk to me like that. She shrugged her shoulders. And I knew.
She lived with abuse, too.
I accused my father-in-law of being unfaithful in his marriage, as I had long suspected it, and he did not deny it. The fighting and yelling continued until they finally left.
I don’t remember talking to Mr. N/A about that day, but he emphatically stated he would not be going to AA, and he would not be moving out. I couldn’t leave – I had no money of my own and I was a stay-at-home mother of three. I felt I had no choices and I could no longer live in fear.
So I filed for divorce.