Not long after Amy moved in with me, we had an explosive fight.
Ostensibly, it was about the apartment we shared being messy. But we were both tip-toeing around the real subject of the argument: her drinking.
“What is this?” I asked, with disgust, pulling multiple empty wine bottles out from under the bed. “This is disgusting, no wonder we have roaches! You’re here all day, can’t you clean up after yourself a little bit?”
“Just because we are on opposite schedules doesn’t mean I don’t work as hard as you do!” Amy retorted, holding a glass of wine in one hand. She was in her painting clothes, soft, worn-in jeans covered in patches and paint, and a camisole. With no makeup and her hair piled on top of her head in a messy bun, she looked like a little kid. “I’m asleep most of the time I’m here during the day unless I’m working on my art, and then I go to work all night. Just because I’m a waitress doesn’t mean my work doesn’t matter too!”
This was a common disagreement we had. Amy thought that I didn’t respect her work because I had a traditional nine to five job in finance while she was a waitress. This was really just her own insecurity, though, because I truly had the utmost respect for Amy and her career ambitions. I knew her dream was to make enough money selling her work so that she could quit the restaurant, but not just anybody can make it as a server in the French Quarter. It’s only the best of the hospitality industry that works there, and I knew she had exceptional people skills and worked in a high-stress environment. The art stuff wasn’t moving as quickly as she might have hoped, though, and it made her defensive.
“Well, it’s gross!” I couldn’t stop. I was angry, but not just about the messy apartment. It was what the mess was. “There are bottles everywhere! Under the bed, all over the kitchen… how do you even drink this much? When do you even have the time?”
This was as close as we got to discussing the real problem. Amy was an alcoholic, and we both knew it. But we were both too afraid to say anything, to make it real.
Too many nights, she had come home early in the morning from going out after work, and I held her hair back as she vomited all the poison she’d imbibed into the toilet.
She would sleep all day because she was hungover, then immediately wake up and start drinking to feel better, before going into work and the cycle would start all over again.
Drinking had taken all the time and energy she used to put into her art, which is probably why her work had slowed down quite a bit.
I knew I couldn’t ignore it anymore one night when Amy was at work, and I was digging around in the bathroom for a lightbulb to replace the one that had gone out.
Amy kept her stuff under the bathroom sink, and I kept mine in the mirror cubby above the sink. I never had a reason to look under the sink before, since that was where she kept her “private lady things.”
I opened it and gasped out loud when I saw the rows of liquor bottles, pushed behind boxes of tampons and bottles of shaving cream.
She was hiding an entire minibar in our bathroom. She had been sneaking drinks in private, even when I was home, so I wouldn’t know how much she’d had to drink.
I resolved to confront her the next day, to tell her she needed to get help.
But I never got the chance to do that, either.