real life

"He threw wine in my face." The night I realised I needed to leave my 'alcoholic' husband.

I was a 20-year-old party girl when I met my future husband. I was at uni, studying hard, and playing hard; you know, just like all my friends.

That’s why I didn’t think there was anything wrong with David* when I met him the first few times. He was a friend of a friend, and we’d all meet up for drinks – and it was usually a big night.

So it didn’t seem weird to me that, initially, our developing friendship was based on fairly drunken ‘deep and meaningfuls’.

Your Body After 1 Year Without Alcohol. Post continues after video. 

But the first time we went on a proper dinner date, I knew there was a problem. I knew, I saw it, and I ignored it, because David was smart, funny and kind – everything I wanted.

We had walked into a Thai restaurant for dinner, been seated, and told by the waiter that they didn’t serve alcohol. David said, “No worries, mate,” ordered a Coke, and then excused himself to go to the bathroom.

Within ten seconds he was back at the table.

“I just walked past the kitchen and it’s filthy, we can’t eat here,” he whispered.

I’d eaten at this place lots of times and I knew there was no issue. Pretending to believe him, I got up and followed him out. I knew what he wanted, and I didn’t care, because I wanted him.

That was the first red flag on the very first date: it wasn’t that he needed a drink, it was how he tried to manipulate me into thinking it wasn’t about alcohol.

I taught him how to treat me that first time; and lying about his need for a drink became a destructive pattern in our decade-long relationship.

David could never have just one drink. Red wine was his poison, and it was always at least a bottle, whether we were out with friends, or just at home.

He denied there was an issue because there’d always be one night of the week when he didn’t have a drink.

I loved those nights, because with alcohol in him, the man I loved became someone else.

On the really bad nights – and they increased over the years – David was not a dignified and charming drunk. He was sloppy; lots of spills, couldn’t stand up. And then he would pass out.

So, if we’d had a great night out, I’d have a man barely conscious in the car or taxi next to me.

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I hated it. It revolted me.

Cameron Daddo opens up to Mia Freedman about his battle with addiction, on No Filter. Post continues after audio. 

Alcohol made David disappear; and he’d be replaced by someone with a nasty tongue.

He was a very defensive drunk. I learned that displaying my disappointment and anger when he was, yet again, a mess, just wasn’t worth what I would have to hear in return.

In the cold light of day, there would be apologies.

To ‘prove me wrong’ after a bender and a huge fight with me, where I would beg him to get help, he would go one to two days without a drink.

“See, I’m not an alcoholic,” he would tell me, proudly.

I’ll admit, in the early years, that would give me hope. But I soon learned the next drinking session was just a day away.

Another part of David’s manipulation would be how he’d claim to be the designated driver for the night. But he never once successfully drove us home.

Half way through a party, I would be enjoying myself on my third drink, thinking my husband would drive us home, and I would look over, and see him swaying.

My heart would sink. I had to either sober up, or we’d have to leave the car there.

But David would never admit he’d failed as a designated driver. One night early on, promising me he was fine, he began driving us home, when fate intervened.

We were pulled over by an RBT, and David was so close to the limit, the police officer told me to take over driving.

At home, feeling like I was drowning in a hopeless situation, I took to pouring out a third of the wine bottle, and filling it with water.

David did not notice the taste, because he wasn’t drinking for the taste. He was drinking for the effect; so, me diluting his bottle just meant he would start on a second bottle, sooner.

Finally, I realised: the man is 43 years old. He’s been drinking since he was 15. This is who he is.

He didn’t want to change, let alone change for me.

One night, with our toddler in my lap as I sat on the lounge room floor, I asked David to put his drink down and come over and play with us.

He stood up, came over, and threw the contents of the glass in my face. As the red wine dripped down on to my child’s onesie, I had an epiphany.

David wasn’t the one who needed to change; I was.

I took my son and left my husband the next week.

*Name has been changed for privacy reasons.

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