How to stop enabling

The last time my son came to stay was different. He had been living rough for some months and sounded desperate. I was fearful of falling into our co-dependent stressful ways and felt manipulated. Several years later I am so glad that I said yes.

This time I was 100% dedicated to doing all I could for my son, myself, and the situation. I felt deeply that it didn’t have to be enabling vs tough love. Luckily, I received support from my therapist/teacher. She backed my desire to find a middle way.

My understanding of addiction broadened to include the link to childhood trauma, absent parents, and transgenerational patterns. It was deeply humbling. There was something much bigger at play.

“In psychotherapy and mental health, enabling has a positive sense of empowering individuals, or a negative sense of encouraging dysfunctional behavior.”Wikipedia

I decided to enable in a positive way and work through all the issues that were coming up for me. Boundaries had been a challenge throughout my life. I made some decisions. He could stay for a while. My gift would be food, gym membership, food and counselling should he be willing. I tried to stay present and avoid judging and disempowering. Instead, I silently acknowledged that some days he needed to self-medicate. I would remind myself how concerned I had been about his whereabouts and welfare. Other times I would go for a walk.

My focus became accepting, neutral, or positive – Today he managed to get up. He is looking after his appearance etc. As I became kinder and more understanding he became more at ease with himself.

It was the start of a new chapter in our relationship. One that I value and treasure deeply. I take it day by day without expectation and look forward to speaking with or visiting him if/when it works for him.


#addiction #parent #help #support #addict #alanon #not_alanon #recovery #enabling