Quote of the Week

"If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way" ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, April 18, 2010

[Ed has volunteered for a local agency for 20 plus years. He shows up on Family Night to help teenagers and their families figure things out. Ed is a natural teacher and I have learned a lot from him. He will tell you that his disease is Co-dependency and the reason that he shows up every week is because that's what he needs to do to fight his disease. His weekly volunteer work is his "meeting." Here is part 1 of Ed's story.]

Hello! My name is Ed, and I am an addict.

You see, my disease of addiction is not what most people would normally think of when they think of addiction. My addiction is the disease of Co-dependency.

Oh, I know, you say, “That is different—not an addiction at all.” Well, bear with me for a few minutes, and let’s see if I can change your mind, or perhaps, my mind will be changed. Let’s just briefly explore it together.

I have two sons, ages 40 and 35. The younger of the two is a long-time confessed and proven addict since early in his teenage years—addicted to alcohol and drugs, and, as with all addicts, Cross-Addicted to all mind and mood altering substances.

Of course, as any parent, I love both of my sons deeply and equally, and would never purposely do anything to harm either of them or to jeopardize their long-term happiness. However, I have done those very things over and over again, especially with regard to the younger. How so? Let’s see.

My disease, Co-dependency, manifests itself in a number of ways, nearly all of which can be termed as Enabling Behavior. That is, from time to time, I do things, especially with regard to my younger son, the addict, that jeopardize his long-term happiness and well-being, things like giving him “a little cash” or a ride somewhere he needs to go. You see, he doesn’t have a vehicle, and probably has not legally earned enough in his lifetime to purchase one, much less insure and maintain it.

So, I just help him out a little, from time to time. What’s wrong with that? After all, he is my son. Wouldn’t I do the same for my eldest son? And, indeed, I do.

In addition, as any parent, I still occasionally overlook little faults in the behavior of my sons. What’s the harm? Everyone makes a mistake from time to time. Although, it does seem that the younger makes those little mistakes more often than the older. And, I guess that maybe his mistakes do tend to be of a more outstanding nature. After all, he is five years younger than his brother. Don’t all of our mistakes seem to become less frequent and less severe as we age? I know mine have.

In reality, the last few paragraphs above classically illustrate active and passive enabling, either or both in combination of which have the potential to send the addict that you love to an early death. I still at times make the mistake of doing one or the other. And afterward, I always feel remorseful. Then why do I do it?

The root of the answer lies far back in the past. Indeed, it probably begins in all of us the moment a baby is born, possibly before their birth or even their conception. There is that overwhelming desire within all of us to make our child’s life better than ours was—to spare them the suffering that we endured—to give them more than we had.

And so, we begin to instill in ourselves that enabling behavior right from the beginning. And, the babies? They love it! They get used to it! And, within a very short time, they demand it.

Ever not picked up a crying baby, after having done so on every crying occasion for a period of time? There is hell to pay! And to force yourself not to respond as you know they expect is gut-wrenching. So, we end up picking them up, even when we realize that it will further spoil them, and the beat goes on.

Fast forward thirteen or fourteen years—bingo, adolescence! The problem has magnified both in expectation and complexity. We are now full blown, well trained enablers; and our children have now begun to experiment with and/or abuse controlled substances; that, mixed with their hormonal mish-mash, presents some daunting problems for both the teen and the Enabling Parent.

I will not attempt to explain here the process of how to curtail our destructive enabling parental behaviors. Just know that it requires discipline and conscious effort on a day-to-day, sometimes moment-to-moment basis.

And, the disease, the addiction to Co-dependency and the subsequent enabling behaviors that naturally follow, is always there, looking for and waiting for a moment of weakness.

I am not cured. I know that I will never be cured if this addiction. However, thankfully, I am in recovery. I do relapse from time-to-time. But, the relapses now are much shorter and much less severe than they used to be. You see, I have a program, a plan if you will—the salvation of any addicted person.

Check in here next week to hear about that.

1 comment:

Wilma said...

I know this is from last year but thanks for writing this. This so describes my husband and myself. Our son is in placement right now but I see us in your story-giving them more than we had, "helping' them out, etc. Prior to placement I had been trying to make changes however my husband is still in prime enabling parent mode. I know we have a long way to go and your story has helped me.



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