I was the ultimate enabler – the one who made everything “okay” again – even if okay only lasted for a little while.
Over several exhausting years, my life was running interference for my son Andrew and protecting him from the world. I waited and hoped he would grow out of whatever phase he was in. During this time, as I tried to manage Andrew’s life, I completely ignored my own.
As so it went.
It took an accident and an overdose that almost killed my son to open my eyes to the reality that Andrew was a drug addict. I finally recognized that he was in the grips of something so powerful I could not protect him anymore–no matter how hard I tried. If Andrew were to ever thrive again, he needed help–he needed professional help and so did I.
Thankfully, Andrew had hit bottom and over time slowly began to embrace his recovery–first at a 30-day inpatient program–then at a long-term residential program.
While Andrew was doing his work, I began to work on myself. I started attending local Al-Anon meetings and I went to parent education workshops offered through Andrew’s treatment programs. I also began to regularly attend the New Canaan Parent Support Group meetings where I formed meaningful and long-lasting relationships with other parents who were navigating day-to-day life with an addicted loved one.
Through this community of love, support and connection, I was finally able to let go of the guilt, the shame and need to rescue Andrew from his own decisions. I began to understand that the actions I had taken to protect Andrew had instead contributed to the continuation of his disease. Attending meetings offered me a safe place to listen, learn and share. A place where there is love and compassion and no judging.
As Andrew was learning how to live a full life in recovery, I was learning how to live a full life as a parent of a child in recovery. I regularly attended meetings and learned from others who shared. I became committed and energized to taking my life back. I worked on self-care and began doing the things that brought me joy.
As we move into the New Year, my son and I continue to walk different paths. Andrew has celebrated 5 years of sobriety. He lives a full and productive life, and he likes himself better today than at any time he can remember.
For my part, I walk my journey in confidence knowing I like the journey I’m on, I’m not walking it alone, and even though it’s not a path I ever would have chosen for myself—I’m a better person for having walked it.