While everyone was looking at the slap at the Academy Awards heard round the world and the reactions that went along with it, I was looking at the reactions of Will Smith’s wife and family. Because I know that feeling, I’ve been in that place.
A few years ago, I was dating a guy who was great. He had a good job, was great with my kids, and wanted to travel the world just like I did. We shared political beliefs, dreams, and ethical views, or at least I thought we shared ethical views. As someone who used to be an addict and had been arrested for getting into a physical fight with my ex partner, I had turned over a new leaf that was more than a decade in the making. I was clean, was going to therapy, had gone through anger management, and changed the way I reacted to situations that made me upset.
The guy I was seeing at the time had a similar story, though his was only a year old. One night when he was drunk, he got into a verbal argument with a cashier at a convenience store. The fight turned physical and property was damaged. He was arrested and put on probation. When we discussed our similar rock bottoms, I felt a connection in a way I hadn’t felt with anyone else before. I had been high and awake for three days when my incident happened. I knew what it was like to do something that you would never do if you were in your right mind. He told me he had committed to change; he was a different person, and he knew it would never happen again.
But I noticed he tended to slide back into some bad habits when he was drinking.
If we were out at a bar and someone upset him, he would yell at them and even threaten violence. If a man made a pass at me, he would talk about how he wanted to “beat the shit” of them. It concerned me, but because it never turned into violence, I chalked it up to blowing off steam. It was okay, I thought. He wasn’t actually hurting anyone.
Fast forward nine months, when I was out of town with my kids at my mother’s house. We had chatted a bit after dinner and he told me he was going out with some mutual friends to the bar. I told him to have a great time, and settled in for a quiet night with the kids. A few hours later, my son had pushed my daughter off of a high bed, and I was…