Tonight, on the eve of our 26th anniversary, Swenny and I spoke at length about our marriage. Not surprisingly, the role alcoholism has played in our years together was central to our conversation. It has defined us.
With hands on a clock unique to people struggling with sobriety, we have marked our time relative to milestones in drinking. The earliest hidden drinks coincided with our daughter’s first day of kindergarten and the passing of his mother; my return to full-time work aligned with a call from his father that an employee of his witnessed Swenny buying vodka while at work; his most significant annual relapses came – for five consecutive years – on the eve of our favorite rowing regatta. Swenny’s stay at a sober house found him shortly thereafter drinking again and arriving intoxicated at the closing for our home. The home meant to be the site of our fresh start is where we have navigated over the last two years outpatient rehab, lost jobs, time living apart and another difficult summer. Throughout, I held firm in my demands that things change, or else. And proceeded to do nothing.
And what now? Have we stayed too long at the fair? Time and again, our optimism to achieve longterm recovery has been checked by the strength of temptation and reality of relapse.
Tonight, we sat together reminiscing about what we have endured in our marriage, stunned that it is possibly over. While I can no longer remember the expectations we held at the time of our vows, I prefer to believe we have met many of them. Most importantly, we have built a relationship with love and respect that I am confident would last beyond the life of our marriage.
If we stay any longer, that may not be the case. So it might likely be for better to quit while we are ahead. With and for each other. Always.