Damian was a fun-loving Wall Streeter married to pretty and pregnant Michelle, until a line of coke and a tiny demon inside took hold and infected everything they cared about. This is their story.
MICHELLE: Damian and I had an excellent marriage. There was a lot of love, trust, romance, and laughter. No one ever would have predicted what happened to us.
DAMIAN: There was a line recently in The Affair, where the guy says, “When people say they hate being married, it must be because they chose the wrong wife.” I chose the right wife. And I loved being married to her.
MICHELLE: He worked on Wall Street but wasn’t the normal type: He loved music, art, walking around New York, hanging out at shitty bars with random strangers and me. Nothing about him was stereotypical, other than the fact that he made a lot of money. A lot of money.
DAMIAN: I never cheated. And everyone I knew was playing around on their wives. Michelle was all I wanted. But after she got pregnant, something changed inside me. I felt like a tiny demon had sort of moved into my brain. There is a lot of addiction and depression in my family; I should have treated that little tweak inside as if I had found a tumor. I should have nailed it before it nailed me.
MICHELLE: I had a rough pregnancy. If I wasn’t sick, I was exhausted, and if I was exhausted, I was emotional. Damian was great about everything. He’d put me to bed early and hang out in the living room watching TV or on Facebook, whatever. Not for one second did it cross my mind that he was basically killing himself out there.
DAMIAN: Such a cliché, but it started as no big deal. I had a little leftover cocaine from a company retreat. I’d maybe done blow six times in my life. So I put Michelle to bed, poured a drink, did a few lines of coke, and started fucking around with online gambling. Teenage stuff, but such a rush. That became my nightly routine: come home from work; cuddle and talk about baby stuff with my beautiful, pregnant wife; get her to bed; pour a drink; snort some coke; get into the gamble; win some; lose some; take a Valium; and wake up to do the same thing all over again.
MICHELLE: When I was about six months pregnant, he yelled at me, big time, for putting his shirt on a hanger the wrong way. I thought, This is not my husband! It was the tone, the eyes … Where was my husband? We talked about everything the next day and he said work was stressing him out. I believed him, but I was concerned. Also, he was losing weight and losing interest in his normal life. I felt very alone toward the end of that pregnancy, but I wasn’t my best self at that time due to my condition, so I didn’t want to hold Damian to some perfect standard of behavior either.
DAMIAN: I’m not sure what spiraled first, the cocaine or the gambling. But I was compulsively and secretly doing both. I had a lot of money, so it wasn’t like I bankrupted us, but within a few months, I easily blew a few hundred thousand dollars on online gaming.
MICHELLE: I couldn’t sleep one night. I walked over to our living room and saw him snorting cocaine on his desk. My life changed forever at that moment. My feelings were so mixed. I was disgusted and horrified. I remember mostly feeling so, so, so sad for him. And I didn’t even know about the gambling at that point. I loved him. He was my beloved husband. My own anger, fear, and shock aside, seeing him on drugs, alone, in the middle of the night was just so fucking awful.
DAMIAN: I told her everything. For days we talked, cried, self-analyzed, saw therapists, wrote notes, held each other, screamed at each other, and just released everything imaginable. I begged her to stick by me while I cleaned up this mess I had created. Meanwhile, I did coke at work and in the bathroom. I needed help.
MICHELLE: I was nearing my due date, so I moved in with my parents. It was so hard. In a way, I wished he had cheated on me because then you leave. Then, it’s fuck you. With this, did it warrant a divorce? Did he betray me so badly that I had to end our marriage? What was the proper punishment for him? And then wasn’t leaving him some sort of punishment for me? All I could think about was, what was my next play? What about our baby? There was no right answer. That was the worst part.
DAMIAN: We decided to “separate” while I got help. We waited for her to have the baby, and then I went to rehab. Rehab was no picnic, but I was ready. The demon had done its damage, and I wanted him out, whatever it took. I did the work to get better. I’ve been sober since. But she still divorced me.
MICHELLE: I will forever be grateful that he was there when I gave birth and that he’s been there for our child. He’s a good dad and back to being a great man. Divorcing him was the hardest decision of my life, but I just couldn’t trust that he’d get better; his sickness seemed so deep in his blood. While I loved him and wanted to stand by him, I had to be a responsible parent. Everything I did was in the name of being a responsible parent.
DAMIAN: It’s been several years of sobriety, and life is back on track. I’ve got the greatest kid in the world [and] a very loving support system of friends and family. I go to meetings. I still make a good living. One day at a time, but, knock on wood, life worked itself out.
MICHELLE: I’m dating someone who actually lived through a very similar situation. We’ll see where it goes. We’re all in a good place now.