Alcoholism almost took 2019. Our marriage, Swenny’s health, and a house with a third bedroom fell victim. Most everything else still stands.
While at times it feels like February, when I asked Swenny for space between his drinking and me, or May when I traded our house for a place too small for our family, or July when I filed separation papers, I know that it is December. Four months since a diagnosis of advanced liver disease changed everything and ten months too late to put back together that which I have pulled apart.
And that’s okay, because 2019 hasn’t been just about alcoholism and the recovery that continues to elude us. Rather than dwell on what was happening, I took the space that Swenny gave me and grew into it. I joined three non-profit boards, one with a focus on addiction. I earned a promotion to extend the influence of my employer to the industry we serve. I bought a cherry red Benz. I became a landlord, and against all advice, chose kindness in my dealings with the tenant I inherited: a man whose dreams loom larger than his opportunities. I drove a U-haul. I danced the night away in Nashville and allowed time to get lost in the backroads of Kentucky on the way home. I saw the most beautiful sunset with my Mom and sister, and represented myself and my marriage in a courtroom, accepting that all good things do, actually, end.
Swenny and I spent Christmas together yet separate. We woke up that morning six blocks from one another, positioned ourselves on opposite ends of the rooms in which we spent the day, drove to and from in separate cars and sat at different dining tables. When he left Christmas night with his presents neatly bagged, the hardship of the year finally struck. Until then, I had kept myself distracted. A safe distance from heart and home.
My hope for 2020 is that Swenny and I continue to find our way together. In the best possible way for us, even when it makes no sense to anyone but us. First, though, I need to still the chaos of 2019, and let myself dwell on it. For long enough to find, in the quietness of its aftermath, the promise of the year ahead.
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet for days of Auld Lang Syne. ~ Robert Burns