The topic of this article, “Deny and Enable”, is not new to any of us. As a matter of fact, I know that writing this is like preaching to the choir. I’m not going to tell you anything you don’t already know. However, it is something I need to say and there just might be one of you out there who will hear what you need to hear.
There are a lot of things today I understand that I didn’t when I was drinking. I didn’t understand denial of my disease because I wasn’t an alcoholic. I didn’t understand enabling because if I wasn’t an alcoholic who would enable me and why. So this wheel goes round and round until you find that day when you can and do stop denying all of it.
I am not writing this article for those of us in recovery. It is not about “us”. It is about those parents, friends and other family members who love an addict and are feeding their habit day after day. I became extremely aware of these situations when I interviewed interventionists and other professionals for my book. I knew how difficult it is for a non-addict in distress to understand everything there was to know about getting help. I wanted to make the path to helping their loved one a bit easier. I believe I was successful in doing that but what I didn’t calculate was how long it takes parents, friends and family members to make it happen.
This has become a personal experience for me and I’m distraught and angered. Maybe it is because I see how miraculous recovery is and I’m not quite sure why anyone wouldn’t want it either for him or herself, or for a loved one. I know I have no control over others. I know longer want control over others…too much responsibility. So my question is rhetorical. How does a father watch his adult, heroin-addicted son get closer to death every day and say, “I’m really worried about him.” That’s it…”worried about him”.
I’m convinced that when he does die, the parents will be throwing themselves over his coffin, blaming each other and asking God “Why?” I understand how difficult it must be as a parent to have a son or daughter addicted to anything. I know many men and women in recovery who are in this position. Do they worry? Of course they do. But they pray more. They also do not enable by supporting their child in anyway. I can’t imagine how difficult that is but that is what they know they have to do to save their child if they can be saved.
My husband said, “Well, he is afraid to kick him out because he will die out there.” Yes. I go crazy over that. So it is better to enable him so that he can die in front of you. The father of this young man does not deny he is a heroin addict. His denial is that he is going to get better without doing anything at all. Like one day he will just say, “I’m done” and go on his merry way. The father does not want to leave his son if he has to be away for a week or so. So the solution is to get the meds to help him with withdrawal and so for the week the kid is miserable. And just when he can see clearly enough to want to recovery, he is back home and his dealer is waiting. In the meantime, when he is on the withdrawal meds and feels better, he knocks down drink after drink in the presence of, the approval of, and paid for by his father.
The interventionists are correct. Why would any addict want to recover when they have food, clothing, shelter, money, etc. when they want it? What would be the point? The important thing to remember is that when we are in any addiction, we can’t make the choice to do much of anything. That is exactly why I feel as I do. In this case, who is sicker? The addict who can’t make any decisions or the parent who denies and enables? Today I am much angrier at the parent.
I’m sharing only part of the story, friends. And the only reason why I’m even sharing is that I have had the “opportunity” to have this family at my home for a few days. They live quite a distance from me and all I can say is, “Thank, God!” I have watched more manipulation and heard more lies in the past week than I can remember—from father and son.
We all know someone we can’t seem to help. When we sponsor or help someone else in the fellowship, it seems a bit easier than trying to help someone we are close to. The personal connection makes it difficult. I know the only thing I can do is offer a bit of advice here and there, knowing I am not an expert and knowing my advice might not be taken. And I can pray.
I invite all of you to pray not only for those who suffer from addiction but for the mothers, fathers, family members and friends who deny and enable. Pray that they may find the strength to do whatever it is they have to do to save their loved one. They will likewise be saving themselves.
Namaste’. May you walk your journey in peace and harmony.
Like Grateful Recovery on Facebook. Kathy L. is the author of “The Intervention Book” now in paperback, e-book, and audio.