All Rise

“You have to pick the places you don’t walk away from.” ~ Joan Didion

Two days ago, I sat at a dining room table in a beautiful but unfamiliar home. To my left was Swenny, and across from us were two men. One the house manager and the other the owner of a sober house we had just toured. It was big, well cared for, and the final stop on a road paved with ultimatums.

The view outside was of a park in a neighborhood not far from the sober house Swenny called home in the summer of 2015. The conversation was small as we talked about alcoholism, house rules, meetings and the formica table of the same vintage as my grandmother’s. I kept my focus on the table because nothing else that was said mattered.

Swenny failed a breathalyzer test, and wouldn’t be moving in.

As the men sought to alarm Swenny of what the future holds for him while wanting to assure him that he could still have one, I considered how we got here. To a place where his drinking had again escalated beyond what he can manage; to where his best judgment left him with a blood alcohol content high enough to betray him during an important meeting held almost a full day after his last drink; to where it is left to strangers to tell him the rest of his story based on the worst endings they have known.

While Swenny listened as if they were talking about someone other than him, I decided to pick this as the place from which I walk away. From where the latitude is lies and the longitude is denial. From where in sickness and in health feels like a sentence I have served for too long. From where alcohol presides.

I hope that Swenny, too, picks this as the place from where he walks away. And turns instead toward an ending unlike the one for which he is heading.


7 thoughts on “All Rise

  1. George McNeill says:

    A verse from “For Freedom” by John O’Donohue

    As a bird soars high
    In the free holding of the wind,
    Clear of the certainty of ground,
    Opening the imagination of wings
    Into the grace of emptiness
    To fulfill new voyaging,
    May your life awaken
    To the call of its freedom.


  2. Ad dy says:

    So sorry it has come to this. I have walked the same path as you, had the same hopes and
    the same disappointments. I have made the same decisions and yet prayed for a miracle. I think you know how my path ended and how i found a new one. You will get through this and you will find a strength you didn’t know you had. Sending you hugs.


  3. ceponatia says:

    Yeah it sucks, I’ve seen a lot of people either get turned away or kicked out because they failed those tests. Was this planned ahead of time or did you guys just go too soon after his last drink? That’s kind of what they want to see is that you were able to stop drinking for a few days in order to make it to an appointment which should be more important to you than anything (if you’re serious about getting sober). If you can’t do that then they don’t want you in their houses.

    He can always try again!


    • swennyandcherblog says:

      Hi! It was an unplanned test but the director and I both believed he was being untruthful about his abstinence. It’s a blessing it happened. We’ll keep at it! Moving to looking at other options to help him get there. Thanks always for your comments. I appreciate your perspective!

      Liked by 1 person

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