How the Annual LAP Conference Brought My Wife

into My Recovery

After twelve years of marriage, my wife is glad I am sober.  I was sober when I met my wife.  When we first started dating my sobriety was a novelty.  She did not find it attractive, but it was nice to have a designated driver, and she thought I had promise in other areas.  So after a year of dating, and a nine month engagement, she married a sober alcoholic.

Early in our marriage she encouraged me to attend meetings.  Her encouragement was based on the benefits of getting me out of the house.  She enjoyed the alone time.  She did think it was strange that after having several years of sobriety, I still needed and wanted to attend meetings. 

After a few years of marriage a couple of things changed.  First, we had a child.  She is a beautiful child, but she is also a time-consuming child.  Her bedtime is in direct conflict with my evening meeting schedule, and someone needed to get her ready for bed and read her a story.  There was simply no way to allow me to attend evening meetings on a regular basis and still share that responsibility. 

Second, it turns out I can get quite grumpy when I am stressed, and after several years of marriage, we have experienced a lot of stress.  My employment has not been stable, things in our home continue to break, and I freak out when I see ants.  There are many times I am not pleasant to be around.

After a few years, my wife secretly wished I could take an occasional drink; something to take the edge off, and make me more pleasant when I am stressed.  She kept that to herself, until recently.  Recently my wife has been more open about this, and has told me she wished I could or would just take a drink to “lighten up a little.”

That all changed in November.  In November my wife attended the Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP) Annual Conference with me in Asheville.  She did not attend because she had an interest in recovery or recovering lawyers.  She came to enjoy a weekend in the mountains.  But during the conference she saw things that completely changed her perspective.

During the dinners and breakfasts, she met other lawyers new in recovery.  They told her about their struggles.  Some faced financial or family difficulties, and some lost their license to practice law for a time or permanently.  The thought of me one day possibly losing my law license, something she witnessed me attain, hit her hard. 

Right after the conference we talked about my sobriety.  I told her the full story of what happened the last night of my drinking.  I have an edited version I tell at meetings, but the full story is more graphic and personal, and something I never told her.  After that, she said she finally understood how important it is that I stay sober and continue to work my program.

I realized that I failed to be open with my wife about my past, and how that fact alone impacts my present.  I did not include her in my recovery, which is why she lost interest in me being sober.  The LAP Conference turned out to be a great way to include her in my recovery and start a conversation about why I am sober and how it helps us both.  She still does not like it when I get grumpy, or freak out over ants, but she no longer wants me to secretly take a drink to lighten up, she would just prefer I take a walk, hire an exterminator, or go to a meeting to regain some perspective.

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