Every morning you wake up, with hope, and some belief, that today will be different. The addict makes promises and apologises and tells you they love you, and that it will all end today. The lump in your throat, and trauma from the night before, sits heavy and you try take on the day with a positive attitude, burying the cynicism, hurt, depression and anger.
The day passes and you may check in with them a few times, irritating them and yourself. But as sure as night follows day they don’t show up at the door when they should. Their food is cold and they stumble through the door hours later, smelling of the cursed stuff that makes you sick. You have two choices: fight them, shout at them and argue, or leave it and go to bed alone knowing that a fight with them in this state is a recipe for disaster.
And so the cycle continues. Day after day after day. Alcoholism is a disease, a terrible disease that inexorably eats away at a marriage, a relationship and the family. There is only one way of fighting this disease and that requires the alcoholic admitting they have a problem, because until they admit to you and themselves that they are sick, they will lose their battle with the cursed substance.
SA has not admitted its problem. It has hinted at it, but – like an alcoholic – has been defensive and aggressive, blaming others, blaming conspiracy theories, and worst of all, blaming us for daring to say it is sick. That’s the worst part of someone with a problem: hurting the ones that love them most.
Our country is losing its battle with corruption. It is deep, set in the very cells of what make this country tick. Every morning, the patriotic among us wake up, ready to try bury the trauma of the night before with the hope that today it might change. Ministers stand up and wax lyrically about the scourge and how it will be defeated, but they never, ever, look us in the eye and say “yes, we have a problem”. No, they always blame others. They bury reports. They spin. They attack the integrity of people trying to expose the sickness. They mock us for our accents.
In this environment, the trouble makers thrive. They whip up emotions and wear berets and laugh all the way to their beds every night as they watch the clown show of denials continue every day. Every day we, too, climb into our beds still trying to come to terms with the previous day’s trauma, only to have to face up to the present. Every person married to an alcoholic contemplates divorce. We do the same with SA: maybe it is just a lost cause and we should quit, we think as we close our eyes.
Then, one day out of the blue, the alcoholic never drinks again. They change and the true hero, the beautiful soul you always knew was there, emerges. Those who love them the most are blessed with their presence and life turns around so rapidly you need to rub your eyes to believe it is real. Thank God, we exclaim, and live present in every single moment as we know how blessed it is.
All we can do is hope and pray that one day the denials in SA will stop, and the beautiful soul beneath the veneer of sickness emerges. Because, God knows, this endless cycle of abuse is killing our souls, one by one.