Enabling behavior is the easiest thing for someone to do for a loved one. I could have received the highest award for doing so because I wanted no conflicts, to have the person mad at me, keeping firm with my rules, and watching a sulking person, to only give into them.
When it comes to the person with a drinking or drug problem, we have to develop the tough-love we hear about so often. If we don’t, we help the addict go deeper into their habit, that can, in the future, kill them. Better to have them hate you than burying them.
I lost both my husband, Richard, and daughter, Lori, from their addiction to alcohol abuse. My relationship with Richard during his blackouts were frustration, anger, hate, the guilt that his actions had to be from something I had done, or he no longer loved me.
From me not making, and enforcing demands, with what should not have been allowed living together, our family life behind closed doors, was on the path of destruction with mind and body, and our two daughters lived in confusion, fear, watched abuse, and grew up scared with no security.
Lets understand something that I didn’t, at the time. Don’t stay with a partner because you believe the children need the other parent. No child needs to watch adult behavior at its worse. They grow up following the same path by marrying the same kind of person with substance abuse problems, take the drugs up themselves, and the merry-go-round starts again with their family life when they marry.
When we enable, we shield our loved one from experiencing the full impact and consequences of their behavior. Enabling is different from helping and supporting in that it allows the enabled person to be irresponsible for whatever they do; getting in a car accident, get arrested, being violent, fights, blackouts, hanging out with the wrong crowd, cause separation from family, constantly asking for money or stealing it, lying, losing their jobs, children, cars, homes, and the list can go on.
Until they come to realize that only they can get sober by themselves, and we can only support them, the cycle will continue, especially, if parents and loved ones, make excuses for them. What we do is make decisions with our hearts and not our brain with reality with a solution.
Drinking and taking drugs becomes a problem, when it causes problems. Think of what your conflicts are: do they revolve around the time they drink? Are you getting behind paying bills, when you never did? Where is the money going? Who are your child’s friends, where do they go, what do they do?
Living this kind of life for fourteen years (way beyond reasoning) made me have a small breakdown, because all I did day and night for 24/7 was think of ways to cure Richard. I pushed my mind and body to the point of braking down. If you see no results from demands, separate from that person. People panic thinking the next step is divorce. That happens, if you make it happen, by filing for one. Separation is just that, both going different ways, until you see if changes happen.
God didn’t put us on earth to be abused mentally or physically by someone who doesn’t want to change their destructive behavior. You should not have to sink with that person. You can die tomorrow, and they will continue on their suicide path. We all have choices; the addict and yourself.
I’m ashamed to say, I took Richard back four times. FOUR TIMES! Love is not going to pull you through this nightmare of substance abuse. When they go too deep, the alcohol or drugs are more important to them than life itself. Don’t do what I did….wait fourteen years to end it. By then, all of us suffered, when there was no need for it, when professional help is available for the whole family. End a relationship before you get killed by someone in a rage.
As for handling my daughter’s drinking and taking drugs, believe it or not, none of us knew she had a problem, until she was thirty-seven years old. She had been drinking in her senior year in high school, and I thought she’d outgrow it when she graduated…my blinders were on even after losing Richard at forty-five at the VA Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island from his alcohol abuse. Lori was following the same path.
Lori died in 2006 at thirty-nine years of age at the Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River. She and her father are buried together at the Saint Patrick Cemetery in Somerset, Massachusetts. Don’t think that it will never happen to you.
If something doesn’t feel right, find out what it is; new friends, new attitude, coming home late, wanting fights, losing interest in the family unit, and arguments all from substance abuse.
If I had taken the seriousness of Lori’s drinking, and her being under eighteen years old, she could have been taken out of school and placed in a rehabilitation center before learning of her addiction in her thirties. She would have had professional help before the demon had a grip on her.
She entered Butler Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, and twice at Emerson House in Falmouth, Massachusetts. She just couldn’t understand why she had a problem. Look for depression, which I never saw. Lori felt her father’s death without talking about it, and I forced her into an abortion at seventeen, which she didn’t want.
Don’t ignore the warning signs!