Why We Enable our Addicted Children
Addiction Knows No Bounds, and Neither Does Parental Love and Our Need to Enable and be Codependent!
The parental love we have for our children truly starts before birth. It starts when we learn they are coming. By the time of birth we know that we are given this child to love protect and teach them the ways of the world. We have hopes that they will be happy healthy and successful. I knew when my daughter was born she would become the center of my life. How much the center of my life, I could not even begin to understand. As I looked at her, I knew she would do great things in life. She would be the perfect child, and would become, as we all say about our children, the President of the United States someday. Aspirations of her going to an Ivy League school, being musically talented and brilliant, were going through my head. My aspirations for her were even greater than my own. I would never let her make the same mistakes I made. I will love her, protect her at all cost, and make sure she reaches her potential.
Then the unspeakable happened my child became addicted to drugs and alcohol and my world began to crumble… I didn’t see it at first and then when I did see it, I still didn’t want to see it! I ignored it; at first thinking it was a “phase” she was going through. Didn’t we all do a bit of underage drinking? Some friends smoked some weed in high school and they seemed to grow up o?. I never knew any real addicts in high school or college.
I enabled her and enabled her and enabled her sometimes knowingly and sometimes unknowingly. Sometimes thinking I could “buy ” her out of addiction. My thinking was simple, too simple…. if she wanted something and would promise to not buy or use drugs, then every thing would go back to “Normal”. That plan just did not work. In fact I might be able to make the case that every time she wanted something she would promise not to “use” just to get it. When she got what she wanted. she would simply continue to use …maybe not immediately, but shortly thereafter and also lie about it. Even when I knew this was happening I would continue BECAUSE maybe, just maybe this time it would work and she would stop. I was deluding myself every time thinking this time would be the time it would end. I lost track of how many times I believed that.
I enabled her as much for her as for myself. I wanted this to stop for her as much as myself. MY sleepless nights, MY worry. MY anxiety, MY frustration, My arguing with my spouse on how to deal with the problems, My arguments among all of the family members. I was consumed with her using drugs and alcohol. Especially as I had a brother who at the ripe age of 13 started his downward spiral that lasted 30 years in addiction. i would try anything to make her stop. i enabled her knowingly in the hopes it would stop and it never did.. why would it? …I gave her what she wanted , when she wanted it . I was the penultimate Enabler! I continued for years even when i knew it wasn’t working all in the hopes that it would. We so want to believe them we would do anything to get them to stop using
Unknowing, I would enable her by doing normal things you would do for any child to love. protect and help them navigate the world we live in as would any parents. She would, as any addict would, steal from me, lie to me, not to mention use drugs and I would still feel the need to give her Food, shelter, love, attention a car spending money etc.etc.etc. Isn’t that what we should be doing ? Isn’t that our job as parents? Essentially enabling them to navigate life?
That depends on your definition of being a parent and in many cases circumstances change what defines our parental role. Let me explain. the world my addict was navigating was not the world I was helping her to learn to navigate. The food shelter clothing etc. was used to navigate HER world, the underworld of addiction, not the world that I as a parent was supposed to help her in on the contrary, I wanted her out of this world. Anything that i gave her for our normal world was being used to navigate her underworld. An underworld I knew nothing about navigating, and as any normal parent, did not approve of this world. Yet everything i gave her went knowlingly to support her lifestyole in her underworld. A world that would eventually kill her.
How could I support that lifestyle? Would I support her decision to be a bank robber? No. Would I support her decision to be a murderer? Of course not. Yet, I am supporting her in a lifestyle of stealing from her family, and probably others, and in essence murdering herself with Heroin. Why would I ever entertain helping a thief and or murderer execute their plan ? That is exactly what I was doing. Helping her with her plan in fact was helping a thief and a murderer.
I made a decision to stop helping her in her plan, and trying to get her on a new plan. The only way to do that was to stop giving her the necessities she needed to fulfill her mission, in her world. I needed to cut off her resources from my world and stop paying for her world..No more enabling….,, no more codependency…
That was the beginning of changes in my and my families life