I just wanted everything to be normal. I desperately wanted to fill the void in my son that he was filling with heroin, by providing things that I could provide. With cars, with money, with my sober advice that I thought was helpful. Thinking that my “help” would change the course of my son’s addiction was my very own addictive behavior.
My addiction was not to substances, but to my son, the addict, and to the crazy thought that by helping him with “stuff” somehow his disease would go away. But none of that was so, and my “helping” only enabled him to find more drugs and use another day!
Until my wife and I entered the rooms of Nar-Anon to find our own experience, strength and hope, we were sentenced to continue doing the same wrong thing and expecting a different outcome. Now, five years after we started our program in recovery, and a year after my boy found New Life House to truly begin his, a lot is different.
For me, enabling has been replaced by just letting him find his own path to recovery. And that means letting my son finally grow up, stand on his own two feet, and make his own decisions and bear his own consequences – good and bad.
At first I didn’t understand the reason for my son’s need of the fellowship instead of the help of his father and mother. But over this past year I’ve come to realize that all manner of parental helping is nothing more than self-gratification. And worse, the enabling is enfeebling and infantilizing in ways that I hardly understood.
I’ve come to understand that the only help an addict needs is a program of recovery, the fellowship of other addicts, and the realization that they want sobriety more than anything else in the world which will lead to their path to recovery.
Yes, I still make mistakes both in my own recovery and in dealing with the disease of drug addiction in my son. But the mistakes are fewer, the enabling eliminated, and the sense of joy in my son’s recovery heightened by the knowledge that he truly owns his day-to-day victory of sobriety.
He walked this road, this year of ups and downs along with his housemates and sponsor, Avi, Garrett, and so many more in the rooms. He grew, without my interference; that is how it had to be.
With recovery comes new challenges. When can I “help” my son with material and emotional support? Really it’s not all that difficult! Emotional support; each and every day, and material things only when he asks and I feel comfortable in giving.
I think I’ve grown too; with growing serenity and knowledge that there can be long-term recovery for my son, my wife and me.