This weekend, a mid-morning phone call from Swenny’s mentor proved a call for action. Since early June, his drinking has worsened. I knew he was still drinking heavily, which is unusual so soon after I confront him. In the past, he would be optimistic about recovery and remain sober for at least a short time.
The baton I passed to him in June with an expectation that he develop a recovery plan was immediately dropped and somehow has landed back with me. I am not opposed to helping him – in fact I want nothing more than to help – but having been through this before, I know that in order to be successful, he has to want sobriety enough to take the first step toward recovery. Unfortunately, the circumstances we find ourselves in today call for immediate measures directed by someone other than him.
Swenny is drinking at all hours, putting his job in jeopardy yet again. Life as he knows it at home may also cease to exist. At times he is quiet, at other times difficult. He is slipping further away from those who care for him into a place with room for only one.
Bracing myself for a difficult week ahead, I developed a plan that I hope he finds worthwhile. Casting concern for his job and family aside, my focus is on Swenny. He simply needs to stop. Stop drinking, stop lying, stop making excuses. We have run out of road.
Later this week, I am expecting a call from his boss – also a friend – who over the years has given him many chances. Together with Swenny’s mentor and brother, we will present him with the plan. It begins with detox followed by intense outpatient treatment. He will attend regular AA meetings. He will volunteer. He will not drive. He will live elsewhere and have no contact with me or our children for 30 days. At that point, I will determine when to commence communication with him. If he refuses any part of it, I am prepared to end our marriage.
It seems to me at once harsh but giving. By providing one final chance, with consequences that are real and painful, I hope he can find the will to climb out of this low of lows where he exists today.
Yesterday, I ran a 4 mile race in celebration of the Fourth of July. Every step of the way, this weighed heavy on me. Am I doing the right thing? How much will this hurt him? How much will it hurt me? How much will it hurt our kids?
By the end of the race, I had no answers. But I did have hope. I attend my races alone, skipping the post race festivities to hurry home. Yesterday, though, I found a spot on the hill overlooking the finish line and watched as runners crossed into the cheers of their families and friends. I envied their belonging and wished for what was once also mine.
I took it all in before turning toward my car to leave. In taking the first step on a journey that is the rest of my life, I realized that for once, I intend it to be good.