If you run through the Lincoln Park Zoo early enough in the morning, you might be greeted by the sound of the lions roaring.  Today, I was met by silence.  As I approached the Lion House, I could see him perched on a rock overlooking his small kingdom.  He was so beautiful, I stopped and faced him.  When he found me staring, he stared right back.  He called my bluff, and I looked away.

When something so powerful takes you in, it’s unsettling.  In the moment, I retreated…  but later, I held my ground.

After a long day at a rowing regatta with my son, I returned home to find that Swenny had been drinking.  I confronted him.  When he denied it, I let it go.  Until I could not.

Last week, in putting together the pieces of his recovery plan, I encountered more than one challenge.  Two local addiction treatment centers have no inpatient space available, and one now has a waiting list for their outpatient programs.  This caused me to delay the meeting I had anticipated all week.

The secrecy and build up to it had taken it’s toll, so I told him everything I knew to be true.  His job is in jeopardy, people who love him are concerned, and those people include our children.  Rather than look away, I waited – and waited – for him to respond.

Finally, Swenny said that yes, he has been drinking.  And that no, he cannot stop.  For the first time, he said he not only knows he needs help, he wants help.

I told him that with this mentor, a recovery plan has been developed that I hope he will follow.  When he learned that the plan includes time away from home, he cried.  He’s afraid of failure, and I told him that I am, too.  And I have little expectation for success.

As we sat together, I felt our grip on each other slipping. Outstretched arms with finger tips barely touching.




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