With Dr. MacAfee’s death, I reviewed a few of my notes from our conversations. He said: In most family situations, we help and this is good. In addiction, help often becomes enabling which keeps the disease status quo. We don’t do this maliciously. We want to help, but without the right information we foster the sickness and get caught in the trap of manipulation. If the lies collapse and the fiction is eroded, breakthroughs usually occur, but they’re painful. That’s why we maintain the denial and don’t want to see the truth of what is happening. When we stop enabling, we give the addict a chance to shift. We need to get out of the way and stop intervening in the consequences.
My reflection: I was the queen of enabling and denial. I didn’t want to see what was happening with my son, and I wanted to believe him when he told me that he wasn’t using drugs. At the end of fourteen years, I finally got out of the way. I told him that I loved him, but he had to fight for himself. All my efforts to save him only continued the devastating decline.
Today’s Promise to consider: Dr. MacAfee taught me that we need to acknowledge the painful enormity of addiction, but we also need to get out of the way of its consequences. Today, I’ll continue to educate myself about this cunning disease. There’s only room for one in the addiction.
Struggling with this right now-it has been 10 years of a roller coaster ride with my now 25 year old son-it has shaken our marriage to the core and he claims he is not using again but I know the signs-legal issues, losing jobs, lying. There are no Nar anon meetings in my area- have not found the right al anon meeting yet. I know that i have to take caere of myself and let his HP take over, yet some of these things are so hard to do-working on it
Us moms do the queen of enabling position so well. It’s heartwrenching to get out of the way. But the only way.
You are both so right. It’s excruciating to get out of the way, but our children have to make the decision to change. We are powerless. My love to you. Let’s stay close.
I tried so hard over and over again to stop enabling.
initially its such a hard concept to grasp because even what we consider to be the simple parental actions of love and caring are actions that enable the addictive behavior.
I was also so afraid I would have to live with the consequences of my own actions that I often doubted my choices and would end up helping my daughter again and again. It wasn’t that I hadn’t read or studied book after book about addiction, I know what enabling means and the damaging results. Somehow though, in the midst of the chaos and seeing the pain in a loved ones eyes it is hard to stay the course.
For me it finally took time and distance to reach a stage where I felt removed from the responsibility of helping her get clean. She disappeared for two and a half years and it was hell but it did allow me time to think, time to focus on myself and the other members of our family. For my daughter, it was obviously the best thing because she came back clean.
She has a year at the end of this month and I am so proud. Our relationship is different now, a healthier one, and although I will always worry it is clear to me now that this was something she had to do herself.