What a cliché, and yet, like so many clichés, there is a degree of truth to it – the truth can set you free. This is what I told Ben at the beginning of the week, after he had yet another relapse and went into withdrawal.
Last Saturday, I went into central London with Rosie to view the collection at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine. We stared at models of mosquitoes, ancient masks used in Sri Lankan exorcisms, photographs taken with an electron microscope. It was an escape from the stultifying atmosphere of our flat.
When we returned home later that day, I found Ben busy cooking. His face was flushed, he looked exhausted, and he could not focus. I found a half-drunk beer in the cupboard above the stove. When I pointed it out to him, he claimed he had no idea where it had come from and that he wasn’t drinking.
The next day, I was out shopping with Rosie when he rang me to tell me he was in withdrawal again. ‘I drank too much yesterday,’ he said. I can’t say I was sympathetic. I can’t say I cared all that much about his symptoms. I was just relieved he had told me.
The next morning, he said he wouldn’t tell his rehab provider. I told him he needed to think hard about that and understand that every action has a consequence. I also said that everyone is trying to help him, but if he isn’t truthful, then it is impossible.
I don’t think anything I said really made a difference, but he did tell them something – a half-truth, I suppose, but at least it was part of the truth. It was enough, anyway, for everyone to start taking the residential option more seriously.
He is eating again, busy around the flat, and taking the initiative to search out residential options. I could say this is too little, too late, to use another cliché, but I know he is a slow burner – someone whose progress is always going to be incremental and riddled with setbacks.
Today he travelled to Bury St Edmunds to view a potential residential rehab site. It took him about four hours to get there, and then half-way through their meeting, he was told that there was no availability until 13 August.
Rosie and I leave at the beginning of August. Ben needs to be admitted somewhere before we leave. Today, my therapist suggested I think very hard about safeguarding my holiday, ensuring that Ben doesn’t just walk out of rehab and back into the flat while we’re away.
So, now I’m thinking, will he give up his keys? Because I don’t want to have to change the locks.