A stash in the shed

Today he came home sober. Just like yesterday. But my sense of smell is out of control. I smell alcohol everywhere. Often, I feel like I’m going crazy. So, although everything about him appears sober, I keep asking him why he smells like that, because I can smell it – why can I smell it? What am I smelling? He doesn’t know either.

We’re both trapped in this cat and mouse charade. He seems genuinely puzzled. Then, out of the blue, I say, ‘What’s in the shed? I want to see it now.’ Panic darts across his cheeks. It is so quick, I am not sure it was even there.

Rosie is out of the tub and in her pyjamas. Ben hands me the shed key and carries her downstairs. Outside, I open first one, then another door. It’s the second door that reveals the beer, hidden behind a bucket.

When I ask him why it is there, he has a fool-proof response. ‘I don’t know how long it’s been there. I can’t remember. It’s old – it has to be. I’m not using any more.’

I know I’ve had a look in this shed at a least a couple of months ago, and there was nothing there. I also note that there is a plethora of little blue off-license bags in that shed – where there was only one before. The explanation can only be that he has been sneaking beers for weeks now. This is all it can mean. And yet, his denials are so convincing.

Is this the line I was talking about a few days ago? When do I stand by that line and make him face the consequences?

He is an expert liar.

I find myself attempting to find something positive in this incident.

  1. He willingly handed me the key, even though it is likely he knew what was in there (maybe he was hoping it wasn’t there).
  2. There was only one beer, and it had barely been drunk.

On the other hand, it is also likely that he brought that beer with him and had been sneaking a sip today, whenever he went downstairs to smoke.

My problem is that I can’t identify the line without incontrovertible evidence. Everything has been circumstantial up to now. That’s how he’s looking at it, no doubt. And so am I, because the alternative is too disabling.



Has he relapsed?

This is the question I ask myself daily.

Back-track to a month ago. We were scoping out day rehab programmes. The one in Brixton wasn’t right for Ben, so he opted for one in central London instead. They have been around for decades. The days are consistent and structured. The family counsellor is sympathetic and experienced.

Two days into his treatment and I’m almost positive he relapsed. He came home late from some freelance work that night. He smelled of beer, but he told me he’d been eating chips with vinegar – a familiar excuse. About a week later, he came home blitzed out of his mind. Again, after doing some freelance work. I told the rehab centre. He told the rehab centre. They kept him on. About two weeks later, he relapsed again. He had a gig in the southeast and came home at nearly 1am, having lost his phone and unable to stand up straight. His hand was bleeding. He wet the futon – AGAIN. This time, neither of us told the centre.

I guess the obvious question is, why didn’t I take Rosie and go. Why am I still here? He claims he isn’t drinking, yet I keep smelling alcohol on him. It is a madness with me now – I smell alcohol on everything, all the time. I am hyper-sensitive to the odour in lotions, deodorants, mouthwash, aftershave – everything. His antiperspirant spray is strong and scrambles my olfactory sense so I can’t tell what I’m smelling. When I come home from work, I find him so out of it, I don’t know what to think. As always, he tells me he is just tired and needs to sleep. The mad thing is, there is no smell.

Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic, I guess. But, I have to ask myself, what is my line. What is the line? When is enough, enough?

He is lying on the sofa, moaning to himself. He does this often. He also talks to himself. He says it’s a comfort mechanism. I don’t know whether it’s the Prozac (he’s on 40mg now). I don’t know whether he’s abusing his meds. My instinct tells me there is something he isn’t telling me. My instinct is telling me he’s lying.

Surely that is the line?