December 13, 2022

The Moment He Said 

“I Think I Can Drink Again”

“I’m sorry. Say that again?” I asked.

“I think I can drink again,'' he replied.

I sat there motionless. Speechless.

That short conversation was one year ago during the holidays. My husband was just starting his seventh year of recovery when he suddenly dropped that unexpected bomb. I didn’t know what to say. He was doing so well, what was setting him off all of a sudden? 

A few weeks later, he spoke with his doctor (who assured him it was not a good idea to begin drinking again), and also told him about the “seven-year itch” in recovery. When I asked a little bit more of what my husband was experiencing, here is his answer word for word:

The Seven-Year Itch my Husband Experienced in Recovery

  • I was romancing what used to be, savoring the celebration moments that today bring memories of remorse and shame.
  • I had thought it’s been long enough, so having a drink doesn’t seem so challenging. 
  • I see others ring in the holidays or major life events with something I can no longer partake in.
  • I have bouts of irritability and anger when recollections bring back memories of embarrassing weaknesses.
  • I can feel recurring anxiety that often comes up with the same fear that took me out from the beginning.
  • I have the underlying nightmare that it could happen again.
  • Some days I feel so incredibly high that I’m just waiting for something to knock me back down.
  • I feel sadness that comes with the thoughts of inequity, self-doubt, and internal story that my family and loved ones still despise me, and I’m not as worthy of the same love and trust I once had.

Once he shared his feelings about what he was experiencing, it gave me a better understanding of his struggles and how I could support him. 

Exactly one year later, as he is ending his seventh year, and about to begin his eighth year of sobriety, we just had the best holiday as a family in years. 

We know we didn’t get there overnight. Time, healing, grace, and understanding came together for us this Thanksgiving within our family of four, and then to our extended family. My husband was back as the master in chief of mashed potatoes, and gets sole credit for his best turkey yet. 

He even taught our son his secret stuffing recipe that only a few are privileged to know. During that moment, I took a picture of them both smiling at each other. That memory will remain locked in my mind forever.

So the bump in the road of the seven-year itch, though unexpected, surprising, and a little scary, can later bring conversation and clarity as we continue to venture down the road to recovery together.