Sarah was proud of the fact she had 6 months in the program but was very worried about her 18 year old son and his addiction to alcohol, so worried in fact she felt his behavior was jeopardizing her sobriety. Of course, everyone jumped in with their own thoughts of what “worked for them” in situations like that.
The first comments related to her feelings about her own sobriety. I certainly felt she couldn’t let someone else’s behavior threaten her own sobriety. That’s akin to what I did all the years of my own drinking: I let others define my own behavior patterns and importantly how I felt about myself. I drank so others would like me, I wanted to be part of their group and believed that the admission key was a case of beer. I had no self-esteem or feelings of self-worth. It was all tied to what others thought.
The talk turned to the fact that her son had to take responsibility for his conduct, that it had nothing to do with her. I felt strongly she can’t control him, that her efforts to do so only lead to frustration, anger, resentments, self-pity and depression and anxiety and ultimately to that first drink – which for the alcoholic leads inexorably to the whole bottle or case.
There were several paths mapped out for her but ultimately we came to the point of reminding all of us that we must be aware of unknowingly rescuing the addict, covering-up, excusing his conduct, enabling his comfortable continuation of his addiction.
It’s not easy, especially with children and parents and siblings … enabling just makes it easy for them to continue on their path of self-destruction. So we all mentioned that in this situation she can’t let him stay at her house if he continues his drinking, give him money, loan him the car, bail him out of jail, call his boss with the excuse his absence is caused by “the flu”, clean-up after he is sick in the living room … in a word or two, we can’t engage in any conduct that enables him to fail to take responsibility for his action and the consequences of his drinking.
Johnny C. summed it up very nicely:
“He knows you’re in the Program and of course is threatened by the changes in your life already.. So he’s afraid, maybe angry. But he – like you – won’t work the Program ‘til he’s ready. Hopefully, that occurs before his drunkenness causes a tragedy in his or another’s life”
Jim A., Covington, KY