Given those two facts, her loveliness and her affinity for alcohol, I was not too alarmed at the start of our relationship. She was hilarious, she was highly functional, and she was a physical homage to fitness and pleasure. To say we started in the bedroom would be to miss the fact that we’d known each other for several years before we go together. But we revved up the bedroom as soon as we cleared the initial dating hurdles. And quicker than my mind or heart had a chance to register any alarm at the wine charm that formed a good part of her evening, I was in love. Or whatever you call it at the early stages of a relationship when you’re crazy about someone and overlook the red flags.
Her Drinking, My Problem
The first time I put her to bed in a slurry state was in week three. I sat down on her couch and contemplated my predicament.
- I could not be with an alcoholic
- I didn’t know what high-functioning alcoholism looked like
- She was so amazing in her beauty, fitness, and humor
- Maybe she was just tired
- Maybe I should run for the hills
- I didn’t want to be alone
- I was into the sex, really into it
Later that week I talked to my therapist. He introduced me to the concept of “harm reduction.” Maybe she did like to drink a bit too much. Was it harming anyone? Was my reaction to her drinking my problem or hers? What would constitute a problem? Did I have to make a decision right at this moment, either way?
I stayed in the relationship. I fell further in love with this amazing woman. And in some moments of revelry, I tried to join her in the hazy evening glow of pinots or margaritas. But it wasn’t ever going to be my thing. And it was definitely her thing. Still, I was open to the relationship, to staying curious about whether the drinking was an issue or just an issue for me. Well, I learned, those are the same thing. If it’s an issue for one of you it’s an issue. But that awareness would come later on.
[read the rest of the story in The Third Glass – Available Now on Amazon.]