As the spouse of a man with alcoholism, I fish. For bottles, for lies and for acknowledgments of a struggle in which we remain firmly anchored. My instinct is my line, and I cast it in rhythm between sobriety and relapse.
Where once I was prolific, my line is now slack, opposed only by my continued relentlessness. Daily searches turn up nothing despite my knowing that the evidence is there. No longer under our roof, though, as Swenny now moors his drinking elsewhere. Not, however, in his car while at work. And not in the parking lots of the stores he frequents. I know because I have checked.
And for what? I am already surrounded by a sea of evidence so vast that it leaves me keening. Not only for the alcoholism it first revealed but for the depths to which I will go to find it. To prove what I already know is true. What good can come from finding one more bottle? Or catching him in another lie? Or telling my own to draw from him information he won’t willingly share?
Like Santiago in the Old Man and the Sea, I’ve gone too far and am ill-prepared for the expanse of the hunt I have taken on. In the midst of evidence collected over two-plus decades, I can’t help but look back to where we started. And see a point of no return.
This summer, especially as the relationships between Swenny and our children strengthen even in light of his continued drinking, I wonder why I am so intolerant of relapse. My need to add to what I have already collected in order to corroborate the persistence of his alcoholism is drowning my hope that things might one day be different. With me and my endless fishing to blame, it could be time to replace my bait. To exchange relentlessness with something gentler. Like acceptance. And a desire to see things another way. Maybe then I will catch a bit of the truth skimming the water instead of the lies feeding at the bottom.
“It’s silly not to hope. It’s a sin he thought.” ~ The Old Man and the Sea