Monday, September 21, 2009

My name is Debby. My son is an addict, and I am a co-dependent

I have been reading every comment, very carefully. I cannot say, often enough, now much they mean to me. At times, I might not agree with someone's advice, other times I can totally relate. This particular comment has made me pause to think:
Written to me by Suboxone Mom:
read all your reasons for not attending meetings. What stood out the most was that you were at those meetings for your son.
"Each woman is given as much time as she needs to talk. An hour later, I'd hear all about overeating (something I can relate to, but I'm there for my son) or someone's sexual molestation stories from childhood (which broke my heart)."

But the point of the meetings is for YOU to heal. We are supposed to work a program so that "WE" get better. We are not there to understand the addict, nor are we there to hear their stories. We are there to learn how to live our lives in spite of the addict......

Try going for you, not him. He has his own program, his own higher power. Your going to meetings will not get him better. It will heal you...eventually.
Yesterday, I was (once again) blessed by an excellent message from our pastor. He is teaching a series on "Why Believe in the Bible-- with a little help from C.S. Lewis".  I took lots of notes, because I'm so passionate about this particular issue.  I feel that it is my duty-- as a Christian-- to study the Word. The more I read it, the more I find only Truth.  But that's not what has inspired today's posting--

I picked up a brochure from Celebrate Recover on CODEPENDENCY.  I read it, and I realized something very significant...

I AM A CODEPENDENT.  I have a CODEPENDENT relationship with my son.  As I read the compliance patterns, I could see a lot of myself in these:

Patterns in Co-dependency

What is Co-dependency?

These patterns and characteristics are offered as a tool to aid in self-evaluation. They may be particularly helpful to newcomers as they begin to understand Co-dependency and may aid those who have been in recovery a while to determine what traits still need attention and transformation.

Denial Patterns:

* I have difficulty identifying what I am feeling.
* I minimize, alter, or deny how I truly feel.
* I perceive myself as completely unselfish and dedicated to the well being of others.

Low Self Esteem Patterns:

* I have difficulty making decisions.
* I judge everything I think, say, or do harshly, as never "good enough."
* I am embarrassed to receive recognition and praise or gifts.
* I do not ask others to meet my needs or desires.
* I value other's approval of my thinking, feelings, and behaviors over my own.
* I do not perceive myself as a lovable or worthwhile person.

Compliance Patterns:

* I compromise my own values and integrity to avoid rejection or others' anger.
* I am very sensitive to how others are feeling and feel the same.
* I am extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long.
* I value others' opinions and feelings more than my own and am often afraid to express differing opinions and feelings of my own.

* I put aside my own interests and hobbies in order to do what others want.
* I accept sex when I want love.

Control Patterns:
* I believe most other people are incapable of taking care of themselves.
* I attempt to convince others of what they "should" think and how they "truly" feel.
* I become resentful when others will not let me help them.
* I freely offer others advice and directions without being asked.
* I lavish gifts and favors on those I care about.
* I use sex to gain approval and acceptance.
* I have to be "needed" in order to have a relationship with others.

Compliance Patterns (FROM Celebrate Recovery)

_____ I (not we) declared I was in complete control of my addiction/compulsion, that my life was fine and dandy - thank you very much.

_____ I feel guilty about others' feelings and behaviors.

_____ I have difficulty identifying what I am feeling.

_____ I am afraid of my anger, yet sometimes erupt in a rage.

_____ I worry how others may respond to my feelings, opinions and behavior.

_____ I have difficulty making decisions.

_____ I am afraid of being hurt and/or rejected by others.

_____ I minimize, alter, or deny how I truly feel.

_____ I am very sensitive to how others are feeling and feel the same.

_____ I am afraid to express differing opinions or feelings.

_____ I values others' opinions and feelings more than my own.

_____ I put other people's needs and desires before mine.

_____ I am embarrassed to receive recognition and praise, or gifts.

_____ I judge everything I think, say or do harshly as never "good enough."

_____ I am a perfectionist.

_____ I am extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long.

_____ I do not ask others to meet my needs or desires.

_____ I do not perceive myself as a lovable and worthwhile person.

The statements that I strongly agree with I have highlited in red. Those that I "somewhat" agree with are in green.

I struggle, most, with saying :"no" to my son, when he is in trouble. I'm getting better, but I struggle:

I do NOT want to enable my son:
Enabling is defined as reacting to a person in such a way as to shield him or her from experiencing the full impact of the harmful consequences of behavior. Enabling behavior differs from helping in that it permits or allows the person to be irresponsible.

* PROTECTION from natural consequences of behavior.
* KEEPING SECRETS about behavior from others in order to keep peace.
* MAKING EXCUSES for the behavior. (School, friends, legal authorities, work, other family members)
* BAILING OUT of trouble. (Debts, fixing tickets, paying lawyers, providing jobs)
* BLAMING OTHERS for the dependent person's behavior. (Friends, teachers, employers, family, SELF)
* SEEING THE PROBLEM AS THE RESULT OF SOMETHING ELSE. (Shyness, adolescence, loneliness, child, broken home)
* AVOIDING the chemically dependent person in order to keep the peace. (out-of-sight, out-of-mind)
* ATTEMPTING TO CONTROL. (Planning activities, choosing friends, getting jobs)
* MAKING THREATS that have no follow-through or consistency.
* TAKING CARE of the chemically dependent person. Doing what they should be expected to do for themselves.
It is so easy for me to recognize others who are enabling their addicts/loved ones. But, for me to self-evaluate where I am weak is another story-- it is hard for me to see my son struggle. I'm so much better at it, but I can still see where my instinct to protect my son is so strong!
I am going to try, my hardest, to return to Celebrate Recovery.  Suboxone Mom, you are right. I need to do this for me. I have identified what it is I need to work on.

Please pray for me, that I'll make this a priority in my life.

Thank you,


Prayer Girl said...

Good grief. After 24 years in AA and 5 in Al-Anon I must admit to still having a fair number of these traits.

On the positive side, I have improved and get healthier day after day and year after year.

What an interesting post! Thanks.


Mom of Opiate Addict said...

I love this and so needed it today! It is time we work our own program and take care of ourselves instead of always focusing on others. I think it seems easier to focus on others because we are afraid at times to turn the focus on ourselves. I will try to make this a priority also Debby and I will pray for us both.

Madison said...

Examining your own behavior and it's impact on you and others is well worth the time. God bless.

MEM said...

It sounds like you are on the right path--a path to healing. You're in my thoughts and prayers. A whole new wonderful world can open up to you when you make your own well-being a real priority. Love to you and yours.

Bay Area GIrl said...

My 24 year old son is addicted oxy. I admit I enable him and have even bought his drugs for him to keep him from getting dope sick....You see, I am an addict, too. I have been clean since Sept. 19, 2009. I attend NA meetings 4 times per week. I am lost as to what to do for him now. I have bailed him out of jail, hired an expensive attorney, took him to NA and cried endless tears. It's so sad, but I picture his funeral. I have seen other addicts die from this. So I pray. What else can I do?

Debby of Oxycontin and Opiate Addiction: A Mother's Story said...

Dear Bay Area Girl-- I wish I had a solution for you. I feel your pain. So far, I haven't had to deal with bailing my son out of jail, because he's never been arrested. I tell my son that he has many Guardian Angels. My son's recent relapse has reminded me how precarious his sobriety was. I pray for my son every single day, because I share the same fears that you do. I'm not a drug addict, but I am a mother who loves my son so much-- and I constantly battle with codependence and enabling. Your comment came at the time when I had to deal with my own consequences in that I enabled my son, this weekend. I shared that here:

Anonymous said...

April 3d, 2012 - My son CJ is 22. He turned 21 in jail, was "busted when he was 19. Used and sold since he was 15. I've read your blogs today - after being in bed for 3 days. I was fooled by my son who is in rehab - 3 hours away from home. I picked him up for a much deserved first time 24 hour furlough - he left the minute he got home and out to party - remind you of the 3 hour drive there and 3 hours back and another facing me for his return. He got a call from the rehab after texting me at 2am that he wasn't drinking..I had that sinking feeling - I knew he was lying....He had to be back to rehab at 7AM - 3 hours away. I drove him - he drank a ton of water and passed the UA. Apparently - he put the wrong dates and was supposed to be at the facility. April Fools joke was on me. Ironically. I feel I should have told the facility. He was facing 30 years at the age of 19 - I got him 6 years probation with 18 months rehab. He is 4 months away from being free. Had the rehab known he would serve his full sentence. I'm all over the place - I believed in CJ completely - I am venting, hurting I don't even know why I am posting - I never have. I am searching. I have to let him go be and do what he does. How? He has no tools. He has felonies. He is so smart, so strong so handsome and yet so foolish. What do I do as Mom.

krissy said...

I found your blog today. I'm 22 my story is very similar to your sons. Your blog is probably my moms thoughts. My mother and stepfather recently discovered my use. I've been addicted to opiates for 7 years, and I've hid it from most of my friends and family when they found out I said I was commited to quiting, but I wasnt. I quit for a couple days and relapsed. I relate to your sons lies and escapades. I just am having trouble seeing a life after this monster. I feel so empty and broken. I feel so bad for my mother and everything she goes through because of me. I dont know where to start but thanks to your blog I know I definetely want to start. I know I am not the daughter my parents dreamed of but maybe one day I can be.

Debby of Oxycontin and Opiate Addiction: A Mother's Story said...

Dear Krissy, how I pray that you WILL truly desire to change things. It won't be easy. I know this. You will need all the help and support you can get. What helped my son, was to cut out the people in his life that he used with. Until he alienated himself from that life of drugs, he kept relapsing. Today, he is five months clean. To me, that's five months of having my son back. How I pray for you to find sobriety, and to feel "normal" again. God bless you. Thank you for your comment. I'm going to write a post, today, and use your comment.