The third sense

Sight, sound, smell, taste, touch. That’s the order, right? It is for me, anyway, making “smell” the third sense. And not just a lowly third sense either, because something about this sense is transcendent – it has the power to link up with your sixth sense.
And if, like the lady above, you find something rotten in the air, chances are it’s indicative of an existential decay of some sort. Or, in some cases, it could just be a fart.

But I digress.

There are times – many times – when my third sense activates the sixth with devastating consequences. I remember once, sitting at my desk in my office when I got the unmistakeable whiff of beer. This was years ago, when Ben was still struggling to stay dry. I was at my office, nowhere near drink of any kind apart from water and tea, yet the smell of beer was overwhelming.

I rang up Ben and I knew immediately that he was back on the booze.

There were times – many times – like that one, before he finally gave up drinking. It’s been just over two years now. But still, I find myself sniffing the air from time to time. He has a habit of eating black bananas, which have a sugary, alcohol-y smell. They are only in my house when he is. And they always seem to be nearby, clouding him in suspicious fumes.

To his credit, he lets me do my bloodhound act. It runs the same way each time, too:

me (sniffing): What’s that smell?

him: I don’t know. What is it?

(both glance towards blackened lengths of banana).

me (sniffing closer to bananas): Oh, must be those.

him (biting into one): Yeh.

And that’s it. It doesn’t escalate beyond that, partly because my sixth sense never really kicks in, and partly because I know I’m not stuck having to deal with him. He doesn’t live with us anymore, you see, so I can always ask him to leave.

This is what I tell myself, anyway. The truth is, if and when the day comes that it isn’t the bananas or some other benign explanation, I really don’t know what I’ll do. I’d like to think that I would calmly send him packing.

But who really knows? All I can do is prepare myself. I imagine the sniffing is part of that process- the need to be prepared for the worst, prepared for the all too inevitable. And yet, where the sniffing was knee-jerk and uncannily precise back then, it’s more of an atavistic behaviour now. Should I worry about becoming complacent?

Or should I be grateful that so far, I haven’t had to test my mettle beyond a desultory sniff…. and just hope it stays that way?

Yep, must be the banana.


10 thoughts on “The third sense

  1. If it was me I’d think carefully about what you would and wouldn’t do (and be honest with myself because the plan wouldn’t work unless I was) if he was back on the booze, make plans and then relax, knowing that I had a plan in place to deal with it. Or you could just decide basic things like do you want him to be around Rosie? Do you want to be bothering with him at all if he’s drunk?

    Did he use the bananas to cover up his drinking before?

    • Sound advice. He knows he would never have access to Rosie if he was drinking. I hope that’s enough of a threat to keep him straight. So far my third sense is driven by paranoia and a reflex behaviour that comes and goes. 😕

  2. It is like a tic, I know, this bloodhound business. I can’t help it. And it helps nothing. Worse was with my late husband – always looking for the specks of his drug of choice, cocaine. I’d touch a suspicious grain and taste it. Don’t miss that.

  3. I try to live in the present (and in the moment) and not in the past. It serves no purpose to worry and depress myself, and bringing up the bad memories of long ago just keeps me from new growth. I’ve had enough therapy and recovery meetings to let go of the unpleasant things.
    The recovery slogans are very useful. One Day at a Time, Easy Does It, Keep It Simple. It’s no wonder they are the cornerstone of recovery.They really do have meaning.
    xo Joanne

      • Perhaps it is self preservation. I’ve also wondered if it’s our own upbringing and how we witnessed conflict solved as a young child. I see history repeated with women I sponsor; how their parents solved (or didn’t solve) problems seems to be the road they follow. Food for thought. What do you think?

  4. I’m struggling with an alcoholic husband and found your blog by chance. He has been out of rehab but still smoking pot for about 2 weeks. If we’re not fighting we’re stone-cold silent. Our children are picking up on the hostility and it’s killing me. All this to say thanks for making yourself vulnerable. I have been telling myself lately that whether we stay together or split whatever on the other side of this has to be better. I hope you are feeling the same after your new move. I started a blog last week to help express my feelings too. Maybe we can encourage each other. Best of luck.

    • Hi Lex. Thanks for dropping by and sharing. Sounds like your husband has a way to go with his recovery. Difficulties post-rehab are inevitable. Things may calm down or they may continue as they are. Only you can decide what is right for you and your kids. That really is the only thing you can control. After all the trauma that preceded his going into rehab, you probably wanted life after to be better. But the truth is, it takes a long time and sometimes the better you were hoping for never materialises. I wish you all the best and will drop by your blog. Time for me to start writing again, too. Hang in there.

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