It’s not him, it’s me

What if this is the truth. What if I’m the crazy one? I’ve written several posts alluding to my manic olfactory sense. I am now adept at differentiating complex odours, distilling the smell of alcohol from everything else. Vaseline Intensive Care lotion is particularly problematic, causing my shoulders to tense whenever I apply it.

I can scent an alcoholic from the other end of a tube carriage, and find myself getting off at the next stop to avoid being near him or her. Passing a pub is traumatic, as is speaking to anyone who has just had a drink. I’m beginning to think I’m suffering from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder. The smell of beer makes me want to chuck.

But I can be duped, too. Recently, I discovered that I have been associating the smell of peanuts with the smell of beer – because Ben often consumed both together. There have been occasions where I have been convinced that he’s been drinking when, actually, I’ve been smelling peanuts.

Yes, peanuts. Now, that’s what I call crazy.

There is also the small matter of my stressed out mind, always working several cycles per minute, now malfunctioning. Yesterday, I thought he’d been drinking because:

  • I heard him opening the shed door (I was listening from the toilet)
  • I heard him using the ladder (he used to hide beer and vodka on top of the shed roof)
  • He took a ridiculously long time to get home that evening.

At one point, I walked past the shed and thought I’d seen a plastic bag billowing off its roof. When I climbed the ladder to investigate, I found a metal dome. There was no plastic bag.

Later, I was looking outside the bedroom window, albeit without my glasses on, checking the roof of the neighbour’s extension to see whether Ben had hidden anything there, and felt sure I had spotted a can. When I put my glasses on, I found that the so-called can was actually a discarded broom head (no idea how that got there).

Both of these incidents suggest to me that I’m not a reliable witness in all this – that I’ve lost a page from the big book of sanity.

Do I tell my therapist? Do I tell Ben? The problem is, my instincts are generally correct. When I suspect he’s drinking, he usually is. So what if I make a few mistakes?

The broader question, however, is this: can I live like this forever? Will I ever stop second-guessing him? Will I ever trust him again?

I only have one answer for all those questions. NO.

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12 thoughts on “It’s not him, it’s me

  1. Pingback: Actually, it’s him… and me « marriedtoalcoholic

  2. I’ve been there. I can’t even find the words to express how many times that I have been there. All of the second guessing. All of the straining to listen or smell for clues. Digging through things for evidence. More than likely, all of it is unnecessary. I knew even when he wasn’t around if he was drinking. I could sense it. Perhaps its because I could sense it in the days leading up to it. I don’t know. I just knew. But I didn’t “know” so I searched for the proof of what I knew. It makes you feel crazy. And the times that you panic about a sound or a smell and it contradicts what you know to be true, you really start to think that you are crazy and that you are really the problem.
    You aren’t. You don’t drink. You aren’t making choices that are hurting him. He is making choices that hurt you. THAT is crazy.

    • Even when I do it, I tell myself it’s useless. And yes, even when I’m not around him, I sense him drinking. Once, while I was sitting at my desk at work, I was struck by the unmistakeable odour of beer. I knew at that moment that he had relapsed. And I was right. Thank you for sharing your memories with me. You have made it to the other side.

  3. Just found this blog from the WordPress front page. I cannot tell you how much I empathize and understand what you’re going through. I have been there. I’ve heard that women have a better sense of smell, and at times like this it seems so unfair – with my now ex (an almost 10 year partnership, him unemployed and an alcoholic the entire time), I could just walk in the door after work and smell it, and to this day, I cannot stand being around men who have been drinking. The smell of alcohol metabolizing out of someone’s skin makes me nauseous.

    And yes, you start to feel crazy. You start to feel like maybe you’re being too hard on him? Maybe he *wasn’t* drinking after all? The thing is, even if he wasn’t once or twice when you accused him of it, there were many other times before that he was able to hide it. You’re *definitely* not crazy.

    • Thank you – yes, thank you for saying that. Because I really did think I was going mad. That smell of alcohol wafting off the human body is absolutely repugnant to me now. So, what made you leave in the end?

  4. Hi. I can’t even begin to imagine what life must be like for you having an alcoholic husband. But I’ve been reading your blog and I am getting an idea, if only a small one. You are amazing for sticking through it. But I also can’t help but think that at some point you have to look out for you and your daughter. Having your daughter grow up around this might be detrimental for her own mental health. You might not see it now, but when she’s older it might manifest itself. I’m not saying walk away right now, but don’t give him too much more. If not for your own sanity, do it for your daughter’s.

    Who am I to say anything? You have every right to say that. I’ve never been there myself.

    I can’t help but see the similarities between the distrust you have for him with his drinking to the distrust one might have when a spouse has cheated. Once it’s happened you find it difficult to trust 100% again. And you question everything they do.

    I hope things work out for you and Rosie. I really do.

    • Spot on. Trust is the thing that is completely destroyed by a loved one’s addiction. And when trust dies, so does the relationship. I don’t know whether you can ever rebuild it. It takes a certain kind of compassion and steel to do that, and I’m not sure I have that in me. I suppose I’ll find out in the coming months.

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