It’s painful for me to come clean is such a public forum, but I’ve finally accepted the reality that my eldest boy is an addict. Even worse, I’m his dealer and chief enabler, and God help me I can’t stop.
I’ve been feeding his terrible addiction for the past seven years. He’s forty-nine now. Every day like clockwork I drive him down to the local park where he meets up with his friends who are also addicts and dealers; like Gene, Jim, Max, Harriet, Sophie and the two Barbara’s. Then it’s a free-for-all where they all use right out in the open. Within the last month things at the park have gotten pretty bad. His body is starting to give out. To be honest with you, I’m getting scared.
You would think that — of all people — a substance abuse counselor would know better! And I do — believe me. Intellectually I understand that the problem isn’t just him. It’s me. He has reached the point all addicts inevitably reach where he can’t possibly continue his habit without help. My help. Armed with this knowledge the sane person would stop. No more paying doctor’s bills. No more transportation. No more enabling. No more hurting him.
So far I haven’t been able to stop whatsoever. Lately he binges until he literally cannot walk. So I hold him in my arms, carry him home and put him to bed, only to repeat the cycle all over again the next day.
Is any of this making sense, or am I talking in circles? Circles probably, because intelligence has nothing to do with addiction regardless if you are the addict or the enabler. Rather, I’m acting out of emotion. I love Buster. I’m happiest when he’s happy. (That’s my high.) I am afraid he will hate me if I stop. I can’t bear the pain evident on his face each time the craving seizes him. My brain makes use of these excuses. Twists them around. Fools me into believing that things will be different tomorrow magically and without me having to change in any way.
Enabling is pure insanity. It’s an addiction itself. I am addicted to how Buster feels. Looking back on my confession I notice a lot of “I, I, I…” That makes sense. Enabling, like other addictions, is a selfish disease. There’s a fine line between loving someone, and loving them to death. In order to stop, you must first accept that there is a difference. Only then can enablers like me address the selfishness underlying their actions. Selfishness is part of ego. Another way to think of ego is Edging God Out.
In order for my boy to get healthy, I must get healthy. Forget about going cold turkey. That doesn’t work. I’d be jumping out of my skin. Instead I’ll do what I counsel other enablers and codependents to do to get healthy. First, accept that I’m behaving selfishly, then, attend Alanon or CoDA meetings and make friends there, read books like “Co-Dependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself” by Melody Beattie, and give the rest up to God.
If Buster was my son rather than my seven-year-old Yorkie-Poo, and we were talking about booze or narcotics instead of a fanatical obsession with tennis balls, I hope I’d take me own advice. Lately Buster has been limping off the field at the dog park after our daily marathon sessions of fetch. I’ve finally decided to listen to my higher power at the Veterinary Hospital and rest him for a full two weeks regardless of the soulful looks he gives me. Unfortunately the prognosis for chemically dependent people enabled by loved ones is usually far more ominous. That’s why I continue to be inspired by the families I work with who find the courage to go against their best instincts.