Earlier this week, I was asked to meet with Swenny’s new bosses about his drinking and its implications for his job. From a place of wanting to help, they had researched treatment options in our community, and seeing the cost, designed a 60-day recovery plan that they would manage. It would remove him from our home, establish strict guidelines to which he must adhere, and leave him with no say in his day-to-day existence. Agreeing to the plan would secure Swenny’s job for at least two more months.
I appreciated their effort because these aren’t just any bosses, and it isn’t just any job. Both are men who Swenny loves. People who have navigated addiction, either personally or through the experiences of their families. Men who have remained by his side, believing in his chances for a future free from alcohol. People willing to lend him a hand when others pulled theirs away.
And it’s not just any job, but one where Swenny finds meaning in helping people who need it most each and every day. A job where people share in their commitment to putting others first. A job he loves.
I arrived home from the meeting and chose to be upfront with Swenny, telling him where I had been and what had been discussed. I delivered the ultimatum as I understood it – follow this plan or lose your job. Rather than accept immediately, though, he chose to weigh his options.
Long conversations with more questions than answers continued for three nights. The first night, he made it clear that he felt deceived by our meeting. He had been upfront with his bosses about his most recent relapse, and to use that against him seemed somehow unfair. To not be included insulted him. My explanation that the meeting was called in an effort to help him rang hollow, and I knew excluding him was a misstep.
The second night, Swenny continued to evaluate the offer before him, uneasy still with the choices he faced: his job or his independence.
By the third night, Swenny had developed a plan of his own. And when he delivered that plan to his bosses on day four, he went from being an alcoholic to being a man with alcoholism. A man who wants to take ownership of his recovery and in the process, be present in his own life and in the life of his family.
Making today – Day 5 – the first day of the rest of his life. The first day in a very long time in which he trusts himself to lead the way.