Enabling Is Not Helping

From Thirty-One Days in Naranon, Day 6:

“It was difficult for me to understand enabling and to realize that instead of helping the addict to get better, I was really helping him to continue to use. Enabling was what I used to do by loaning him the car, covering his bad checks, replacing the things he “lost,” making excuses for the things he did wrong, and hosting his parties. I thought that by being kind and helpful, everything would be okay.

It was the Nar-Anon program and group members who opened my eyes. It felt good to learn that by enabling the addict, I was performing tasks for which he was responsible. It didn’t matter what my reason for enabling him was, I was preventing him from suffering the consequences of his own actions.”

In my memoir, I wrote, “Years later in one of my support groups in New Mexico, a friend shared how she had to lock everything up in her house. She’d lock the jewelry here, the silver there. She had a different key for everything place, and one time she was so flummoxed by her son that she lost all her keys! We laughed together at that one, grateful that we could still laugh. This is what it comes to for many of us parents. We erect walls to protect ourselves, keeping the addicts out. And then, of course, we feel guilty about doing that.”

In the rooms I’ve heard many times: “What we allow will continue.” So I don’t allow Angie to abuse our relationship anymore. We are no longer dependent on each other. I’m on my journey and she must follow her own path. At this fork in the road, when parents stop making life easy for their addict, many of them are forced to see themselves more honestly and attempt recovery. Many succeed.

This was a very difficult choice for me, but I was drowning in my codependence. I needed to pay attention to the rest of my life and let go of Angie. As I have found peace on my spiritual path, I pray she will too someday.

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