Swing Time

Imagine her sitting on a swing, violently swinging back and forth over a vastly variable terrain, desperately trying to get off, but incapable to do so. Swinging forward she hovers over beautifully prosperous ground. On the back swing she is suspended over a dangerous and potentially deadly abyss. You’d think she’d want to jump off over solid ground, but no… she just can’t decide… Unwilling to enter the uncertainty of unknown territory she feels most tempted to jump into the abyss of familiar misery. It can even look like bravery when in reality she is closing her eyes in fear, all the while believing that it will somehow work out, against all odds. When pushed toward life, the swing-dynamics make her swing back even more toward the deadly allure of the patiently awaiting abyss, which will silently swallow her when the times comes.

S had been trying to stay sober for half a year, but relapsed many times after weeks, days, or hours of attempted sobriety. She continued to drink while driving and working at her very high-paying consulting position, where she counsels clients in financial matters - while in and out of alcohol-induced blackouts, where she wouldn’t remember the content of interaction or identity of a client. Sometimes she would come to, utterly confused, in the middle of a conversation.

Rehab was discussed as an option to supply the necessary support and she was taken to rehab P to have a look. Her reaction was very positive. Numerous phone and text conversations took place during the following 7 days. This is the verbatim texting document:

J (on 3/27): Meeting tonight?
S: I have a conference call at 8pm tonight.
J: Call me when you can!
S: Will do.:)
S: One of my bosses has just asked me to go to Mexico with a client next month. Ugh.
J (??): Can u talk?
S: Not yet. Still on my call. Should be done around 9pm.
J: Call me then.
S: Will do.
S (on 3/28): Just checking in. Had my prescreening call with rehab. See you tonight. Hope you are having a good day.
J: Great. I’m having a self-care day. C u tonight, xoxo
S: Running a few mins late. Sorry. See you soon.
S shows up for sponsee meeting after work, looking well.
J (on 3/29): Any news?
S: No word yet. I’ll call/text them.
J: When are you off today?
S: No. I have to wait to hear back to see if insurance will approve it, then I have to get approval from our leave center and then I have to figure out what to tell my immediate bosses and why to tell my boyfriend to cancel his trip. Can you tell I’m nervous? How r u?
J: I know… lol It seems like a problem when it’s really the gate to freedom. I’m here for you. 1 thing at a time. Do only 1 thing!
S: Thank you. Hope you are having a good day. They asked me to call P at 4:30, but when I called she was in a meeting. I did leave my name and number.
S: I’ll keep you posted, xx
J: She texted me that she was in a meeting and will call you and let me know, too. Please do call me when you’re done with work!
J: I am at a meeting at F House. Starts @ 7:30. Can u come??
S: I’m just on my way home from work and am stopping to have dinner with my roommates. I spoke to P. Not great news with the insurance, but she said she is willing to work with me. Can I call you when I get home? (begins to swing back)
J: Sure
J (on 3/30): P called me last night. They are offering you a spectacular deal! It’s an offer you can’t refuse if you know what’s up… The rehab I was working at in Ventura asked 20k cash up front and they were no comparison to P rehab – on any level. Call me if u need to clarify or decide or anything, xoxo
S: Hi, I know it is a great deal and I am so lucky to have you in my corner. I’m scared because it’s all my savings. I’m praying on it, been reading the big book and am going to AA meeting at lunch today. Hope to see you at the meeting tonight if you have time. Thank you for being there for me (in swing-back mode).
J: I am going to a Malibu rehab tonight for networking dinner – won’t be at the meeting. If you are back in ambivalence and think you can pull yourself out of the swamp by your own ponytail, we may have to wait for some more serious circumstances… No one can save another. All we can do is be of service by being supportive. I have time for you tomorrow, if you like, sending love.
S: It isn’t that. It’s the fact that it is all my savings and I could very well be denied the claim at work and if that is the case, I simply cannot afford it without working. I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills or my rent. (sounds reasonable, but actually it is part of the problem that has been created by alcoholic behavior – she sees it as being created by rehab).
Phone call with P at rehab regarding how to handle employment and insurance matters.
J: I have never ever known of anyone with a high-pressure job to continue working and get sober on the side. Recovery is about having faith and letting go. As long as you are holding on tenaciously your fist cannot receive the new… That’s the meaning of surrender – make recovery #1, follow suggestions, and trust the process… If your boat is sinking you gotta jump into the cold water and swim ashore. That’s what it takes. Do you really think that any of us got sober within safe financial settings?? That’s precisely the hitting-bottom part… (tries to raise awareness, but may be pushing too hard).
S: I’m trying to tackle one thing at a time so was looking at my policy today. It pretty much says that I would have to take unpaid leave and I wasn’t expecting that and it says I need to have been under constant doctor care and I am subject to screening by their people and if I am denied the claim then I get no pay and would have to sue them.
J: Don’t know what else to tell you, Dah’ling. I had to sell my store, leave my family, home, and country, sell my retirement fund and come here without valid green card or therapist license…
S: Can I take you up on your offer and come over tomorrow? Also do you think that I should tell my boss that I’m having some health issues and will likely need to take a short-term medical leave or should I just say nothing?
J: call me!
Phone conversation where practical issues regarding job and insurance were discussed.
S: FYI – well, rehab discussion went over like a lead 10000000 pound rock with my mom.
S: I’m going tonight.
J calls to inquire. S is drunk. States that she is packing and wants to be taken to rehab by J. J agrees to come over and pick her up.
J (on 3/30 at 9:00pm, knocks on the door, no answer): Outside your house. You are not opening the door…
S (on 3/31 at 10:00am): Hi. I slept in today. Can I come over later?
J: ??!! (S must have passed out last night, might not remember yesterday’s conversation)
Phone call where J calls to inquire, offers ride to rehab. S agrees to go to rehab at 12:00.
S: Can you come at 2. I need longer than a couple of hours.
J: OK. Can you commit to 2? Yes? We need to utilize the fact that you feel horrible and not revert back to the efficient role. Suffering is your best motivator – to avoid that you slide back into alcoholic denial and avoidance… Also, I just don’t want to be on stand-by for the rest of the day. Had a strenuous week, xoxo
S: Sorry, you don’t need to be on stand by. I’m not going. I thank you for your time. Please just leave me alone.
J (??!!): Don’t be silly! I’m worried about you. I’m coming at 2.
No reply
S (at 4:00pm): Sorry. Can you pick me up now?
She has drunk 1 fifth of vodka. She is barefoot, disheveled, and keeping her long hair in front of her face, refuses eye contact. During the car ride she slides into alcohol delirium, where she cries uncontrollably and mumbles unintelligibly. Upon arrival at rehab she has to be carried as she has become incapable of walking on her own and so… she stays.
S (on 4/1 at 11:00am): I really want to come home.

P.S. “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” – quote, Albert Einstein
… and this is why…
the solution is to be found through:
cognitive restructuring (i.e. a practice of mindfulness and/or psychotherapy) and/or following someone else's system of thought (i.e. wise person, guru, spiritual program, etc)