Hello. My name is Danielle, and I married an alcoholic.
It’s been 10 years since I divorced him for his substance and subsequent emotional abuse. I naïvely believed that somehow that meant I could begin again, that his problems would be his problems. But I was wrong, and now things have reached a boiling point, dropping my new family into a cauldron of toxic emotions, which bubble under the surface of every interaction. My ex-husband has managed to infiltrate my newfound happiness, and I hope that by sharing things I was too ashamed to share, I can somehow heal this newly opened wound before it becomes malignant.
We had two children together, my alcoholic and I, and so I knew that we would always have to be partners in some respect. But I thought ending the marriage would mean he would stop calling me a ‘fucking stupid cunt’ when he got angry. Mostly his anger raged when he was confronted with his alcoholism. It was moments like these that the acid rain of verbal castigation poured from his mouth: when he was forced to see that passing out while the children were in his care or not getting them to school on Monday morning because he was too hungover was simply not ok; when I was forced to cease his weekend visitations until he got his drinking under control; when my 10-year-old found a loaded pistol under the bed while playing hide-and-seek, and I made him move it to a safe before the kids would be allowed back. These events were cyclical, and when things were ok I just kept moving forward, avoiding confrontation and overcompensating in other areas, pretending it was the last time and things would get better for him. The same way I did while we were married. A therapist once told me this was a coping mechanism common to those who have suffered abuse. Pretend everything is normal.
Once I was remarried, the verbal abuse did stop. My new husband had a zero tolerance policy for it. He didn’t suffer from the PTSD or the codependency symptoms that had allowed me to tolerate such dysfunctional communication. He handled the phone conversations, we used group email to discuss the children, and when things spiraled out of control as they predictably always did, we sought out third party help in the form of a family therapist. On the surface this seemed to be working for a time, but alcoholics and abusers hate to be controlled. I think deep down the fact that my alcoholic couldn’t get to me, that he’d lost the ability to bully me, sent him down a very dark path, the one you only read about but can never imagine being part of your story.
Soon the kids, now teenagers, became the conduits for his manipulation. He developed a new paranoia regarding my marriage to an immigrant from the Middle East. He raised concerns with the kids that they were being quietly converted to Islam. He shamed them for their interest in Middle Eastern culture and their learning of the Arabic language. He threatened to prevent them from ever leaving the country with us for his fear they’d never be heard from again. Once again his visits were extremely limited because the children couldn’t tolerate the emotional disruption he wrought. Around the holidays we caved, and let the kids spend an afternoon with him. For those two hours he bragged about his sharp shooting skills, and how with his scope he could put a bullet between my eyes from 300 yards away. He told them if I turned up dead, at least they’d know who did it.
This new and violent development prompted a series of legal events leading to a restraining order and the confiscation of his weapons. When I read the police report, I went into shock. He handed over 17 weapons. A list of high powered pistols, semi automatic rifles, and an AR15 was staring me in the face. I expected three or four guns, but not an entire arsenal. I crumbled. I cried. My throat closed up. Suddenly the words he said, all the undertones of hate shot through me, not lethal, but life changing. My children are torn and bitterly confused. My husband is a man threatened, his hackles are up and his teeth are bared. The tension in our house is electric, and something as mundane as a jacket left on the floor sparks a riot. But it ends now. This ends now. A spiritual sage burning and newfound well of strength to fight. I cast my alcoholic out of this house and banish him to his own demise, and I’ll be damned if he takes us down with him.
Danielle St. Pierre is a stay-at-home mother of four who recently retired from a high powered corporate executive position to open a winery with her husband. While her mother always dreamed Danielle would grow up to be a writer, it was a hobby she gave up in college and forgot about in subsequent years. She came back to writing when she married an Arab and realized that all the stereotypes and misunderstandings between the eastern and western worlds were now her everyday reality. She began to blog about her experiences in this new world as a means to break down barriers and let others in to see that cultures are not right or wrong, they are simply different. Sometimes humorous, sometimes raw, Danielle writes in stark contrast to the misleading, perfect virtual profiles of life we are affronted with in the digital age. Read more of her story at www.soimarriedanarabblog.com.