Sick As Our Secrets


Video Caption: The shame overshadowed and masked reality. On episode two, Irene is telling her story. As we move toward Hawaii, and rock bottom, we learn about things that Irene brought into the marriage from childhood. Warning: This episode includes references to alcohol and sexual abuse.

Video Transcript:


You know, when I think about how did I get on the floor, passed out. Yeah. You out of town, I’m home with the kids. You’re trusting me with them and I’m passed out on the floor. Unable to be present for my children and care for them. Leaving them. Fear, you know, I think about what would lead me to the point where I’m no longer caring about things that matter.

Wow. Like my children and my family and like my marriage, I was in such denial. Yeah. You know, I couldn’t see it. So when you’re in an addiction, you and your brain has now been hijacked by it. You can’t see what’s right in front of you. What’s plain to everybody else. Yeah. So you could see I had a problem and that I couldn’t stop.

My kids could see, oh, why does mommy have these tiny little water bottles? I couldn’t see that it was an issue. Yeah. So I blame shifted and threw things back at you argued with you about it, tried to rationalize what’s the big deal about what’s the big deal about alcohol? You know, I’m, I just have a high tolerance and things like that.

I just need to take the edge off. I made every excuse as to why I drank, drank, because I was happy celebrating, drank, because I was sad. I needed to pick me up drank. Yeah, because I was stressed. I needed to come down for my. Any excuse I could find to drink. Yeah, I would. I need to loosen up because you know, Jimmy and I are gonna have a night on the town.

Yeah. And then before you knew it, I was past tipsy. I was drunk. Yeah. And slurring my words. Yeah. Blackouts can’t remember what happened the night before I remember. Gosh, some really painful moments where I caused you tremendous pain, because I literally didn’t remember that we had had sex the night before and I was trying so hard to hide.

What was so obvious yeah. To you that I had a problem and I didn’t know what to do with it. I didn’t know that I could say it out loud. Mm-hmm or even admit to myself or acknowledge. I couldn’t, I couldn’t see it. All I knew is that I couldn’t stop. Wow. And I didn’t realize it until that moment. Where my friend intervened looked at me and kind of confronted me about the pain that I was causing my children.

Yeah. Like Irene, your daughter is hiding the two younger ones under pillows. So they can’t hear you. And Jimmy arguing about how much you’re drinking. Like she’s trying to protect them. Do you realize the pain that you’re causing your children? And I think. I know I was full blown in an addiction hindsight 2020.

Yeah, because in that moment I could feel almost nothing. It’s like the shame overshadowed in mass. Reality. Like, yeah, I couldn’t touch reality. I’m like, it was just constant denial. Yeah. I don’t know how else to explain it. Like I denied that I was causing the pain, everything was denial of the truth that I had a problem.

And I think back to just where it all began, like my identity crisis. Wow. Like I’ve always wanted like every human being to belong somewhere to feel loved. Yeah. And feel like I belong. And I didn’t feel like I belonged in my own family with you. Like when I started to dig, I’m like, it didn’t start with you.

It started with where I was born. Like I’m biracial. I’m African. Born in Zambia. My mom’s Zambian and my dad is Caucasian American. I’m African American, like seriously. Yeah. And did not fit in here in the us with black Americans. And I wasn’t white enough for white people either. So it’s like this identity crisis I was in.

Started way young. And then if you fast forward to where I started introducing myself to alcohol. Yeah. I was living in Africa. My dad referenced, I asked him what’s Guinness. Right. And he’s like, oh, it’s vitamin honey. And he was joking, but I took him literally and started helping myself yeah. To Guinness.

Once a day, I had my vitamins and little did. I know that I was literally altering my brain chemistry in a developmental part of my life as a child. And this was unbeknownst to my parents. They had no idea what I was doing. All I know is I liked the Guinness. Yeah. Right. I like the way it made me feel yet I had was completely ignorant to what alcohol does.

So, you know, here we are, it’s culturally acceptable overseas to partake in alcohol. And I moved to Switzerland to go to boarding school because of my dad’s job and start helping myself. I could, I didn’t know about any drinking age. I went to the store and tried to fit in with all the kids there. Wow. And everybody drank.

Everybody drank to get drunk. So majority of the people I know there were numbing pain, of course that’s hindsight 2020, they were numbing pain. And so I wanted a numb too, and I became a professional number, stuffer and ator wow. Of my emotions. And abused alcohol up until I met you. By the time I hit 21, I had abused alcohol so much, but I had also experienced a lot of verbal abuse from men, emotional abuse in my childhood, physical abuse from men date rape, which I at the point had not acknowledged or admitted.

Had happened, felt like it was my fault and felt a lot of shame about that. But I was looking for love in all the wrong places, because I wanted the love of my natural father that I didn’t feel like he was able to give me in the form of physical affection. Yeah. Or verbal affirmation. When my dad went overseas to work, I was 10 years old and I went and hid under the bed.

And cried for hours because I did not know how to deal with the fact that my dad left and I’m not gonna see him for two years. Like I took that as abandonment. I made up the script that I wasn’t good enough that my dad would go and work overseas. Imagine that to provide for us, I took it as rejection.

So here I am a young adult struggling with my identity, looking for love in all the wrong places. Abandonment rejection. And then I start to have flashbacks and those flashbacks, I were of moments of sexual abuse in my childhood. I can talk about it now. I’m not gonna go into detail because we don’t need to.

Retraumatize a listener, however, That moment where those flashbacks started coming up for me, I began to drink at that to stuff it and numb it because it seemed like there’s no way that that could have happened. Like there’s no way I could even ever say out loud that that happened because I felt such tremendous toxic shame.

Yeah. About these sexual abuse. I think. if I’m honest, mm-hmm there were times when I was like, yeah, just go ahead and drink. You know, it got into a place where me being codependent mm-hmm , you know if we were gonna be sexually intimate and, and I wanted you to feel somewhat connected because if you didn’t drink because of the.

You weren’t present. I wasn’t at all. Right. And now I felt like when you did drink, you might not have been present, but you were sexual. Yeah. And I think that false if you will sense of fulfillment for me just became a little jacked up mm-hmm and my work to do mm-hmm but I remember even dealing with some of the things with pornography mm-hmm because I felt more intimate than I did. It was just crazy making. Yeah. And we were such in a cycle and the enemy, just trying to Rob our intimacy wonderful. Through all of this stuff. And yeah, I remember when we were in counseling mm-hmm and I could see that cuz we would do, you know, when we were took sabbatical before, you know, trying to get.

We would do almost three sessions a week. Yeah. I’d do my personal session I do. You’d do your personal session then we did the session together. Yeah. And I could tell this one session our counselor, she was obviously had coached you through a moment and it was the first time you got descriptive about sexual abuse.

Mm-hmm and not to get descriptive but when we were in that moment, mm-hmm I began to see that what I actually wanted mm-hmm you were not able mm-hmm to even provide because of this abuse. And so I, that was, I remember there was a first time I said to myself, I drink too. Right. And to cover that up mm-hmm but it was in that moment.

And this was well, We got good. Mm-hmm that? I started to get a glimpse of, I can’t shame her for drinking. It was almost like, as crazy as I was go ahead and drink, cuz I wouldn’t wanna deal with that. Right. But it was actually hurting me and hurting you and hurting the kids and hurting our intimacy, hurting our intimacy.

Yeah. And I remember a time we were at, in the house and our son used to high. and you were inebriated at the time. And I knew it and I wanted the kids to see it. And so I asked you to do something that they were doing but not like they were like hide jumping over the couch. Mm-hmm and you tried it and you hit your head so hard when you fell on the back of the couch and it, you acted like nothing.

Had happened mm-hmm and it was because you were drunk. And I remember the kids just being like, why is she, you know, she, she, she should be really hurt. Yeah. And you weren’t, do you remember that moment? I do actually remember that one because I can consciously remember that one. I thought that if I showed you how hurt I was, you would know, I never would’ve made.

Stake like that. Yeah. If I was sober. Yeah. So I was trying so hard to pretend that I was not drinking mm-hmm so I denied my pain. So again, that was my Mo deny pain, numb and stuff. Mm-hmm, pretend disassociate from my body and as a survivor of sexual abuse, now I realize where that came from. And why I did that.

Yeah. It’s not healthy.

I think I see the, the mixture of your tears still, still six and a half years. Yeah. Sober the mixture of your tears of I’m glad that I’m out of it. God. Yes. While the pain is real. I feel it. I let myself feel it now. Yeah. Thank you. Mm-hmm for letting us in on this moment. Yeah. I think for me, you know, what we found out was is like, if the family’s dealing with addiction, everyone’s affected by it.

Oh yes. And everyone’s codependent. And I remember just trying to me crazy making, like, am I crazy? Mm-hmm , you know, was she really drunk? So crazy. Yeah. You know, I remember you brushing your teeth at six o’clock, you know, in the, in the evening after dinner. And I she’s like, oh, my breath was just bad. And I.

You were hiding, covering up from the alcohol in your breath, or, you know, what, what are you doing upstairs? And you come down smelling like Listerine, you know? And one of the things you said is you would say like one drink is too much and a thousand is not enough. Yep. And I know we say that. But you were so preoccupied.

And I remember every date night, every Friday, you wanted Mexican mm-hmm. why? Because it was an excuse to get a margarita yeah. Yeah. And I would make sure I was. Like you had no idea, but I was, I, I would like ask the waitress or just to add another shot yeah. Of tequila, like whatever I could do to get where I needed to go.

And I remember Googling if I would to see if I was an alcoholic signs of alcoholism, if you have to Google. am I an alcoholic? Yeah, you probably are one, right? Yeah. But I was like sneaking. I didn’t want to admit it to anybody mm-hmm but I wanted to see what are the signs of an alcoholic? I didn’t know what it was.

I’d never talked to anybody who openly admitted it or. Actually talk to me about the sliding scale of addiction. Yeah. The things that leads someone down the slope of addiction. Yeah. You know, when I think about how emotionally sick we both were. Yeah. Because they basically say they, as in psychologists and studies say that the person in the addiction is sick mm-hmm , but the people, the loved ones surround.

The addicted person are just as sick. That was me emotionally. Yeah, I was, I was in our marriage stalking you. Yes. Yeah, pretty much. And like that felt like more pressure that drove me to drink. If I felt like we had a child parent child dynamic, mm-hmm me telling you what to do. Yes. And wanting to know my whereabout.

And asking me all of these questions, you were really trying to not to control me, but protect me or protect yourself. But I took that as control. And you began to be all of the people that tried to control me in my upbringing, all the people that tried to control me in my young adulthood. And so I drank at that too.

I think it’s it’s almost, you could make sense of why you would drink. Yeah. Mm-hmm like not dealing with the childhood, not dealing with the girl underneath the bed. And I felt like Hawaii was gonna be that reset button. Yeah. Like let’s go to Hawaii. Let’s take time to reconnect, rejuvenate, refuel, and put the past behind us and kind of press the restart re reset button and restart in a functional, healthy relationship.

I didn’t realize that I can’t pretend like I wasn’t still sick. Does that make sense? Yeah, like I was still sick. When we went to Hawaii next time on the two equals one marriage podcast. What no one knew was that although 555 people got saved, there was one who was still lost. It was me. No one knew that the first time I saw you that Easter that week was at church because I was staying in a hotel because of our fighting.

No one knew it. And I remember walking off the stage, everyone’s winning, let’s post the numbers. Let’s da, da, da, da, da. And I went back to the green room and I cried my eyes out and I said, I can’t do this anymore.

Share this video: