Earlier this week, I had a dream in which Swenny’s former boss sent me a text concerned about his drinking. The premise was that Swenny hadn’t turned in his keys and his boss worried that he was returning there to drink when nobody was around to notice. In my dream, as I was reading the text, Swenny entered the room. I looked up to see my husband nearly unrecognizable, exhausted from a battle with alcoholism that he was losing. He was thin, weathered and anxious. Years beyond the day in time in which the dream took place.
When I woke up, I was relieved. Happy that for the first time in many months, my reality was better than my dreams.
Until it was not.
The following day, a text alerted me to his relapse. But in real life, the text was sent by him. And not to me, but to a friend of his.
“I’m still struggling, just telling you this as usual.”
Somehow, this conversation from which he deliberately excluded me appeared on my phone. Reading it, I felt sick, deceived, and hurt. While it was clear he was keeping me at arm’s length yet again, it wasn’t clear why. So I made note of the message and moved on.
Less than 24 hours later, his struggle was confirmed. Putting away the Christmas decorations, I saw the familiar silhouette of a pint of vodka, tucked into the dark corner of a basement shelf. Knowing that I wasn’t dreaming, I confronted him. In keeping with his pattern, he appeared shocked, and questioned from where the vodka had come, before retreating from me and my inquisition.
Leaving me standing alone in our living room, alongside a bare Christmas tree at least one week overdue for the curb. I felt diminished. The hope from just two weeks ago was extinguished with the lights, packed away with the blessings of the season.
Most carefully wrapped was the lesson I learned: Be wary of hope. For it is fleeting.