We don’t realize that someone else’s addiction becomes our own addiction until we take the time to stand back and observe our own behaviors and responses to our loved ones. Our life revolves around their addictive patterns. They actually become our focus. What they do and how they feel that very moment determines how we respond and what course of action we take for the day. Are they having a good day or a bad day? We go as far as adjusting our own plans to cater to the needs of our alcoholic. We tend to them as though they were incapable of taking care of themselves. We make sure they eat. We make sure they “sleep” it off. We cover up their irrational behavior so that they do not have to experience any consequences for their actions.
What we are essentially doing is going behind the alcoholic with a broom and sweeping up any pieces that might fall off, so no one sees what is really going on. We cover up the mess in hopes that the outcome will change, but it doesn’t. The irrational behavior only continues and actually increases the more steps we take to cover them up. What we are doing is not what we think we are doing. We think that we are helping our loved ones. We think we are taking care of them, but what we are doing is the exact opposite. In fact we are enabling the alcoholic to continue to drink because they have no reason not to. Everything they need to do we are doing for them, so why should they quit?
If they lose their job, then we work harder to support them. If they need gas money to get somewhere, we give it to them. If they forget to pay a bill, then we do it for them. We make sure that their daily comforts are all taken care of so that they are happy, so that maybe they won’t drink, but our rationale doesn’t work to our benefit. They will continue to use us as a resource as long as we are willing to be one. The truth is there is no end point. The alcoholic is not thinking rational and although they may once in a while admit they appreciate your service to them, they do not realize that your service to them and direct attention to them maintaining their unhealthy lifestyle is only maintaining their sickness.
If we truly do care about the alcoholic we support and want to see the best for them, we have to step back and let go of the reigns. We have to allow them to think for themselves and make conscious decisions on their own behalf. We have to allow them to hit bottom. They will never hit bottom, if we are there to hold them from the ground. Our alcoholics have made the choice to drink and they have to make the choice to quit. And they will only seek help if their current lifestyle begins to fail them and they start to lose some of the comforts they love the most.
As an enabler we make it easy for them to stay sick. We take on the burden and take ownership of something that is not intended to be ours.
Here are some quick tips to quit enabling your alcoholic and get support:
1. If they choose to drink, stop participating in the event. If you know they plan on drinking then you can plan on not being around them. Do something good for yourself instead. Make an appoint to respect their decision to drink and respect your right to live. You don’t have to be around them when they are drinking. They will drink regardless of you being there, so you might as well stop babysitting and start living.
2. Stop financially supporting their sickness. If they lose their cell phone service because they forget to pay their bill or if they don’t have gas money to get to the bar, stop handing over the cash. You have your own responsibilities that you have to take care of and this includes your sanity. You don’t have to defend what is yours or argue about money either. Simply put you can just say that you have to take care of your own finances and you can no longer help.
3. Stop making excuses. Alcoholism and excuses go hand in hand on both the alcoholic’s behalf and yours, so start recognizing when you are making an excuse for your alcoholic. Stop feeling sorry for them and stop feeling sorry for their actions. You need to separate their actions and choices from your own. You didn’t create their alcoholism and you can’t control it either.
4. Focus on yourself. Focusing on yourself should not be confused with selfishness. They are entirely two different characteristics. Focusing on yourself means that you are taking action and responsibility for your own life and allowing others around you to do the same. Selfishness means that you are unaware of others and only address your own concerns regardless of the impact.
5. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Make this your mantra! Repeat it daily until it actually sinks in and starts to make sense. Don’t say you are not going to do something and then turn around and do it. This only gives the alcoholic control over the situation because they know that you are not going to follow through and you are just saying you will. Establish a positive plan of action and follow through by actually holding your ground or protecting your boundaries. If you say you are not going to give them money, then follow up with the course of action and don’t give your alcoholic money. If you say you are not going to be around them when they are drinking, then don’t be around them when they are drinking. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.
This book is the perfect book for in-house personal development. You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home to get well acquainted with the many different aspects of families that are struggling through alcoholism or addiction. Learn how to recognize key behaviors and how to work through them. Recognize patterns that enable your loved ones to stay sick and learn how to correct them.
This book is dedicated to the family members that still suffer with living with alcoholism and addiction in the home. Making change is often the hardest thing we can do, but it is the best solution for ourselves and for our loved ones with addictions. Never fear independent thinking and growth. Move forward and seek the happiness you deserve and want. We are never stuck in a situation. There are always choices to be made and options. There is always opportunity for growth. Take that opportunity and embrace it.