Am I an enabler?

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by Ruffled feathers, Sep 21, 2017.

  1. Ruffled feathers

    Ruffled feathers New Member

    My daughter is 21 and is working a part time job cleaning dog kennels for minimum wage. Her job is over an hour away from my home. She loves the job because she has a crush on a boy there. She was born deaf and hears with bilateral cochlear implants; when she has the implants on, her hearing is very good; however, when she doesn't want to talk to me, she won't put them on. She has been in 2 mental hospitals this year and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. She takes Rx for the bipolar disorder. She was arrested last month for DUI, possession of marijuana and speeding. I did not bail her out - she stayed in jail for 2 weeks. It took her entire paycheck and $250 from me to get her out. I paid $200 to get her car out of impound. I told her she would have to pay me back, but minimum wage doesn't even give her enough money for gas between paychecks. This kiddo is extremely disrespectful to me, screaming and cussing when she doesn't get her way. I've tried to help her get out on her own by setting her up in a safe affordable apartment and paying everything for 6 months with the understanding that after 6 months, she would be on her own. Well, 6 months came and she had lost a very good paying job because she didn't feel like going to work. She had to leave the apartment and move in with her dad. Their agreement was that she would keep a job and pay him $100 per month. She got a job, but spent all her money shopping; He locked her out of the house so she slept in her car and called me the next morning. I was very upset that my child had to sleep outside so I gathered her things and moved her back in with me. When she gets upset, she cuts herself, smokes pot (not sure how she can afford this), drinks and posts pity parties on Facebook. She confessed to using cocaine, heroine and prostituting herself for drugs. I love her very much and I try to encourage her daily but she is wearing me and my pocketbook out!
     
  2. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Yes, you are an enabler. You enabled her by giving her $250 to get out of jail and $200 to get her car out of impound. You enabled her when you set her up in an apartment for six months. You enabled her when you took her back in your house when she was kicked out of her dad's house for not keeping up her end of their agreement.

    You enable her every time that you let her be disrespectful to you without any consequences.

    She can afford drugs because she doesn't have to worry about using money from her job for food and rent. You are conveniently providing that for her.

    I was an enabler, too. Sadly, it just made things worse. My daughter used and manipulated me and continued down the path of drug use until she was shooting heroin into her veins. Is that where you want your daughter to end up?

    When I finally got therapy and learned how to set firm boundaries, my daughter got sober and has become a wonderful, functioning adult. It wasn't easy to get there, though. We had an intervention, sent her to Florida for a three-month inpatient program, and refused to let her move home. It took four years in Florida and five rehab stays until she finally decided that she wanted to live a sober life and has just celebrated 18 months of sobriety. She now lives about an hour away from us and we have a wonderful relationship. If you had told me this was possible when my daughter was 21 I would have told you that you were crazy.

    My daughter is much older than yours. I often wonder if we had gotten therapy to learn how to set boundaries earlier maybe we could have saved ourselves and our daughter ten lost years.

    Many of our members find support groups like Families Anonymous are very helpful. Others like myself prefer private therapy. Some use a combination of both. Being part of this wonderful group of experienced parents that have walked your path is also invaluable.

    We understand and are here to support you.

    ~Kathy
     
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  3. Ruffled feathers

    Ruffled feathers New Member

    Kathy, thank you so much for your response and congratulations on our success! I recently started seeing a private counselor. I've been going for about 6 weeks. I don't really know if it is helping yet, but I'm going to stick with it for a while. I haven't heard of Families Anonymous, but I will check into it.
     
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Yes. You are enabling her very negative behavior. She used heroin? And didnt get addicted?
     
  5. Ruffled feathers

    Ruffled feathers New Member

    That's what she said. She said she smoked it.
     
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Oh okay. My daughter smoked it a few times too and did not get addicted to it that way. Still, your daughter is paying for dangerous drugs that she has extra money to pay for partly because you pay her bills and make life very easy for her.

    I cut my daughter off and made her leave at age 19. She quit. She said "its too hard to use drugs."

    Sometimes addicts respond the best to things that go against our instincts. They need to feel consequences for horrible behavior in order to motivate them to change. This includes jail and homelessness.
     
  7. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    Hi Ruffled:

    The best thing that has happened is you now are looking for answers to make changes. You found us and you are in therapy. Both are good.

    We have all been enablers at one point or another so have some self-compassion too. We all desperately love our young adult children and try hard to steer them in the right direction in spite of their dysfunctional and dangerous behaviors.

    It's like throwing jello on a wall and hoping some of it sticks!

    Keep posting and reading here. You will gain immeasurable strength from the others here. I know that I did!

    :notalone:
     
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  8. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Ruffled feathers, welcome. I agree with the others about your enabling. I also agree that you are on the right path with therapy and your willingness to change.

    You might benefit from reading the article on detachment at the bottom of my post. You may also find information in a book entitled Codependent No More, by Melodie Beattie. NAMI, which is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, will be of help to you, you can access them online, they have chapters in most cities. They offer wonderful courses for us parents which can give you support, guidance, resources and information. They may provide supports for your daughter as well. Give them a call. Getting support for yourself will help you to make better, healthier, more positive choices. CODA, Al-Anon and Narc-Anon are other 12 step groups you might find helpful too.

    Hang in there, this is hard stuff, keep posting, get yourself into supportive environments and begin to focus on your own needs and desires......find ways to nourish and nurture yourself, self compassion is a key component to finding our way out of enabling.
     
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  9. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Ruffled feathers, I was in therapy for two years. I went once a week for a year by myself and then my husband came with me for another year. It is not an instant process. I had many set-backs along the way. I was lucky to find a wonderful therapist through my NAMI classes. Another mother who had a daughter who was the same age as my daughter with similar problems recommended her therapy group to me and when I called and explained what I needed, they suggested a particular therapist. She was wonderful . . . never judgmental . . . just gently pointing out that what I was doing wasn't working and helped me set up boundaries at the pace I was ready to go. Most of all, she was there to listen which is what I liked over support groups.

    I think instant addiction to heroin is a myth. My daughter used it many times but was able to stop without any type of maintenance drug. I asked her about that because I had always heard it is almost impossible to quit. She said that she found benzos much harder to quit and needed detox every time that she tried. Heroin was her go to when she couldn't get benzos which were her preferred drug of choice.

    I agree with the other posters that just being here means that you are ready to get off the roller coaster of life with an addicted loved one. We often say that we can't change our loved one's choices or behaviors . . . all we can do is change our behavior and our reaction to theirs.

    I am glad that you found us!

    ~Kathy
     
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  10. Littleboylost

    Littleboylost On the road unwanted to travel

    Welcome RF and no words were better spoken K813! It is a continuous process of growing, learning and be courageous enough to continue to evolve. We learn we grow and we survive this hellish nightmare.

    It is not an easy process to deny what the heart wants and do what the mind knows is the right thing to do.

    As much as detaching with love and setting boundaries is a process, it is a necessary one.

    Many DCs and recovering addicts will tell you that it wasn't until theor loved ones stopped enabling them that they sought help and recovery on a genuine level.

    Again welcome, stay learn and grow.
     
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  11. Ruffled feathers

    Ruffled feathers New Member

    So... how do I stop? She can't go to work without gas and she isn't making enough money to keep gas in the car from paycheck to paycheck. I can talk all tough and swear that I'm not going to give her another dime, but when she calls from work to tell me she doesn't have enough gas to get home, I cave and transfer $10-$20 into her account.
     
  12. Littleboylost

    Littleboylost On the road unwanted to travel

  13. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You stop by getting professional help or finding some kind of support which can help you make different choices. I have found enabling to be very much like an addiction, only our fix is to stop the real or perceived pain our kids are in or to provide them something we believe they need. When your daughter gets in a bind, you feel fear, likely guilt too and to lessen those feelings for yourself, you enable, you help, you give, you do something to bring that energy down in yourself. You appear to be caught in the FOG, fear, obligation and/or guilt. In order to remove yourself from this, it generally takes someone else to interrupt our skewered thinking on a consistent basis as well as offer us guidance, support and options for responding in different ways. It takes time and quite a bit of effort and a commitment on our part to make any real change. It is not easy. You are in a pattern. You are operating out of patterned responses, both you and your daughter know exactly how the script goes. Simply put, she has a need, you satisfy the need. If you don't, she amps up the manipulations, gets mean, you "cave." It's predictable behavior and we've all done it here. I know that script forwards and backwards. And, while I was busy playing it out, I was miserable and wildly fearful in regard to my daughter.

    Then she needs to quit that job. Having it because she likes a boy is ridiculous. Why should you pay for that? She needs to get a job closer that she can afford to get to. She needs to live within her means.

    One of the first things that changes when we enter therapy, counseling or a group is that you learn how to take the focus off of your daughter and place it back on you. Once you do that, you begin to learn how to take care of your own needs and as a result, you make healthier choices. And, you feel a whole lot better too.

    In order to make any kind of change, you have to step out of the situation you are in and look at it from a different vantage point and quite often that is not possible without outside interference or help. We are comfortable in our patterns, we don't want to rock the boat, but if you really want to change this situation, then you'll need to do something different.

    Your daughter has quite a number of issues that can be serious, however, unless she is psychotic or out of touch with reality, then she knows right from wrong and can change. However, that won't happen unless you change. NAMI is a good place to begin because they are well versed in these issues with our kids and very helpful for us to begin the journey out of enabling. By continuing enabling your daughter you send her the message repeatedly that you believe she cannot do this on her own. You are both disempowered by enabling. And, it appears, you are both unhappy with it.

    In order for any change to happen, you will have to learn about boundaries. When you have strong boundaries, you recognize that they are not only for you and your well being, but for your daughters as well. You won't be around forever, and she will need to learn to respect the boundaries that others and life in general impose on all of us. When our difficult kids learn that manipulation doesn't work with us, they either continue manipulating someone else, or they learn how to make direct requests and handle being told no. You are reinforcing negative behavior by permitting it. Remember, we train those around us to treat us the way we believe we deserve to be treated.

    It appears you have arrived at a point of choice. You can choose to continue the way things are or you can find a way out. It's a tough choice, I know, but if you want things to change, you are the one who will have to make that change.

    I know this is not easy to hear. Anything that doesn't ring true for you, throw out. Keep posting, get support and be very kind to yourself. You deserve a break.
     
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    Last edited: Sep 26, 2017
  14. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    RE, that was an amazing post from a very wise warrior mom
     
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  15. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    That is how therapy changed my life. My therapist helped me see what my husband and I were doing from a different vantage point. Once I recognized the absurdity of the life we were living, it motivated me to learn how to set firm boundaries.

    Our daughter stole from us. So we responded by paying for an apartment for her to live in for six months with the expectation that she would take over the rent.

    Our daughter got evicted from the apartment when it was time for her to pay the rent. So we let her move back home.

    Our daughter broke all the rules she agreed to. So we responded by completely caving in and letting her stay.

    Our daughter didn't want to get a full time job. So we paid for a car, insurance, health insurance, food, and clothing.

    Our daughter started stealing from us again. So we responded by putting a dead bolt lock on our bedroom door and I walked around with a key on a wristband.

    We rewarded all of her bad behavior out of love. So it just got worse and worse. When we finally discovered she was shooting up heroin in our house, we finally woke up and knew we had to do something and staged an intervention. Our niece, who is the same age as our daughter, called us out at the intervention. She asked why my husband and I would reward someone that stole from us by paying for an apartment for her. I realized at that moment that what I thought I was doing to help my daughter was actually a huge part of the problem. That is when I started therapy.

    ~Kathy
     
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  16. Littleboylost

    Littleboylost On the road unwanted to travel

    In therapy and Naranon. In the thick of it with 18 year old Difficult Child AS. He doesn't think he is an addict. Too bad. Can't live like we are living any more with the lies and the fear of theft.
    He has been good lately not stealing or taking the cars or demanded rides everywhere. Take the bus or ride your bike. Does nothing to contribute to the household, continues to drug but does not bring the drugs to our home, and does not abide by the rules we set in place. He is here waiting for a rehab bed. If he does not go to rehab he needs to find a place to stay and get on social assistance.
    It took us a lot of therapy to set firm boundaries and stay on the Same page husband and wife. It has led to a lot of peace and calm about and around our Difficult Child AS.
     
  17. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    Here it is in black and white for all those lurking parents out there that aren't sure if they are doing the right thing. It's good for me too. Kathy thank you so much for spelling it out for us!
    :autumn:
     
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  18. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    Yes, I cringed when I read that post, because I could have written it. Thanks Kathy!
     
  19. Broken-Hearted Mom

    Broken-Hearted Mom New Member

    Kathy813
    We are struggling with our adult son and are trying to stay firm. Both my husband and I are so torn between wanting to help him and send the need to stop enabling. Setting firm boundaries seem to have helped your situation. Would you mind elaborating a bit more?
     
  20. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    We learned to stop giving her money, to stop letting her move back in, and learned that we had to be willing to let her be homeless.

    Yes, I said homeless. You have to be willing to accept that. In fact, I had to finally accept the fact that my daughter could die. As my therapist pointed out, my daughter overdosed on our living room couch and if my husband had come home two minutes later, she would have died.

    So letting her live at home and work a part-time job with no adult responsibilites wasn't the answer. That just gave her a way to pay for her drugs. The reality is that our loved ones who are using drugs can die no matter where they are.

    I am sorry but I don't remember your story, Broken-hearted Mom. Is your son a substance abuser? If so, the answer if treatment followed by sober living where he is expected to have a job and pay his own bills. You need to take yourself totally out of the equation when it comes to financial matters. If he says he won't go, then he needs to find a new place to live and function as an adult with all the responsibilities that comes with that.

    My daughter went through five rehabs and countless sober living situations but it wasn't until we cut her off completely with very limited contact that she finally decided to get sober. She went into a wonderful rehab (that she found and arranged to go to) followed by a combination IOP/sober living program. She stayed in sober living for a year going through their step-down program and now shares an apartment with a friend from the sober living house. She became very involved in NA and has a wonderful sponsor and support group which I think is the key to her sobriety.

    She just took a new job after working full time at a company for a year and a half. She is excited at the new opportunity because it has room to move up. She will be celebrating her 2-year anniversary of being clean and sober on March 1st and has asked me to come to the meeting to see her get her chip. I wouldn't miss it for the world.

    It was only when I learned that I couldn't "fix" my daughter or control her behavior that things turned around. I was a classic enabler.
     
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