Love And Enabling

A while back I read Libby Cataldi’s book, Stay Close. In my book, I say that I try to stay in communication with Angie, but reading Libby convinced me to “stay closer.”

Now, after years of recovery work, I feel strong enough to try to keep up communication without feeling drawn into the orbit of her manipulation and insanity. Whatever happens, I want her to know that I’ve always loved my daughter inside the addict—and I always will.

In the Afterword in Libby’s book, Dr. Patrick MacAfee has these words to say: “I believe that ‘stagli vicino’—staying close but out of the way of the insanity—is best. If you are dealing with addiction, offer the addict roads to recovery, not more money or bailouts. Excuses keep people sick…The fear of watching a loved one failing is frightening, but don’t let it cloud your realization that the natural extension of love and caring may only enable the addict’s condition.”

That’s a very fine line. We want to help our loved ones, of course. But often giving cash to an addict is like oxygen to a fire. It just feeds the addiction. There are so many other ways to offer help, and when they are ready hopefully we’ll be stronger to give it.

4 thoughts on “Love And Enabling

  1. Thanks for your blog which I’ve only just discovered. My question about the advice to stay close is this: does it ever get to the point where staying close and in contact becomes virtually impossible because the addict takes every single connection to turn it to their advantage? After 15 years with my adult child, staying close seems to just feed their denial..even when I don’t enable. Even a simple “I love you” seems to get twisted around. Is it ever the right thing to NOT stay in touch?

    1. Dear Broken-hearted, yes, it’s okay to NOT stay in touch. I think the point of Libby Cataldi’s book and my blog was simply to keep the lines of communication open, not to close them off. In my case, my daughter Angie closed them off, not me. For reasons that I can only speculate on, she finds it too difficult to have her family in her life. So I’ve stopped pressing, though I used to prod her with emails. I don’t think she reads them anymore, as she missed the one telling her her father was dying and she might want to see him before he does. After he died, she felt badly, only adding to her soul sickness. Angie is 38 now, with 15 years of drug abuse behind her. I believe she has a lot of brain damage, as her actions have been terribly reprehensible. This is when it’s okay NOT to stay in touch: when it’s more than likely that contact will be damaging to YOU. My recovery in the program is all about self-care, because I’m no use to anyone else in my life if I’m worn out and broken from contact with my addict. Hope this helps. Blessings to you!

  2. Thank you so very much for replying so promptly! I’m so sorry about your situation, especially over her father. Your experience with Angie that you share above mirrors my own with our 40 year old daughter. It’s so helpful to get advice from someone who knows what I’m dealing with, so blessings for that.

    1. Hang in there, Mama, and regardless of what happens with your daughter, there are other voices calling you in your life. Listen to them, take care of yourself, and get on with the business of living. If we don’t, then addiction has claimed two victims instead of one.

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