The wife of former NRL boss Todd Greenberg has laid bare her harrowing battle with alcoholism that caused her to hit rock bottom when her family walked out on her.
Lisa Greenberg told 60 Minutes on Sunday that she had never had a problem before 2016, but that all changed when her husband was appointed chief administrator of rugby league.
It was a time when the boutique fitness instructor was reaching her 40s and starting to feel more and more “irrelevant.”
“He has a great new job, I quit my business to support him, I wasn’t as fit as I used to be, the kids didn’t need me anymore,” she said.
“People see this glamorous and perfect side of your life and I would absolutely embellish it.
‘He had a very big and strong mask. Behind that mask, she didn’t want to show that she was imploding. I kept smiling but I was dying inside.
Lisa Greenberg said she hit rock bottom when her husband Todd (pictured together) and two grown children left her.
The fitness consultant now trains other women struggling with addiction.
Greenberg said his wife, who drank two bottles of wine in the mid-afternoon every day, went “very quickly” from being fine to having a serious problem.
‘It’s such a strong disease. Beyond the next drink I couldn’t see anything. Because I was nothing without him,” said Ms. Greenberg.
‘If someone had given me a choice, ‘we could take your legs or you can’t drink anymore’, I would have said, ‘take my legs’… Who says that?’
Now he has been battling addiction for four and a half years and feels like he is finally in a place where he is in control and can move on with his life.
But it is a problem that is as pervasive as it is often hidden.
Figures show that one in five women ages 45 to 60 drink at unsafe levels, more than any other demographic group.
Lisa has been open about her experiences with alcohol addiction in the past.
‘I would lie to my family. They’d say ‘please don’t have another drink’ and I’d look them in the eye and say ‘I won’t drink today’, she said.
And I really meant it. He would wake me up in the morning and say it with all my energy. But by noon I’d be driving to a bottle shop.
“There was this physical compulsion to drink alcohol and I would be drunk by mid-afternoon.”
“So I’d get up early in the morning looking for containers to put the bottles in, wrapping them in newspaper so they wouldn’t rattle.”
The fitness consultant, now 53, despised herself when Todd and his two sons walked out on her in 2018.
It was at that moment that Lisa hit rock bottom, huddled on the floor of her oceanfront mansion, drinking and contemplating suicide, before seeking professional help.
“My family gave me an ultimatum. They said if you’re going to drink again we’re going to leave. I promised them I wouldn’t, and I meant it,” she said.
But they came home and I was drinking, so they packed up and left.
‘I was broken, defeated, suicidal. I just thought that she didn’t deserve to be on this planet.
The 53-year-old said her habit, drinking two bottles of wine a day, started when her husband took over as NRL boss.
He had tried to hide his addiction by pouring the wine into coffee cups and to-go glasses.
“Whether Todd’s star went up and mine went down, in my opinion, it just needed more and more alcohol to function,” he admitted.
I am such a perfectionist that I wanted to be the perfect wife. In my eyes, she was failing miserably.
The co-founder of online women’s community ‘Love you Sydney’ said she ‘hated’ and ‘hated’ herself but has since taken a surprising turn in her life.
Greenberg said “it was the most inspiring story” he could think of, later calling his wife a “superhero”.
After voluntarily stepping down from the NRL’s top job last year, Greenberg is now the chief executive of the Australian Cricket Association.
The two say their marriage is stronger than ever.
If you or someone you know needs help, you can contact Lifeline on 131 114.