Where to draw the line?
I remember the morning I woke up to discover my father had spent most of the night sleeping in his Toyota truck in the driveway. I was about 14 years old and my father's drinking problem had really begun to have a grip on his life. My mother, in her frustration as to know how to handle it, began to attend Al-Anon meetings with a neighbor. Prior to Al-Anon, Mom would just always rescue Dad and fill in the gaps for his behavior and shortcomings. Mom would make excuses for him and "help" him. Prior to Al-Anon there was yelling, objects got thrown in our home and anger escalated to seemingly dangerous levels. Frustration reigned.
Knowing where to draw the line when "helping" the addicted is one of the most difficult things a loved one will ever do. However, the constant rhythm of rescuing someone from their destructive behavior simply informs them that you will always be there to "fix" and handle their issues when they overindulge. It's the meeting of two type of overindulgence... substance and saving. One gets addicted to a substance and the other to saving the addicted. Both must let go for there to be healing.
It's very hard to let someone sleep in a driveway all night because they passed out in their vehicle. The loved one might lay awake all night thinking, "Am I doing the right thing?" "Perhaps I should just go out there and get them." "What if they drive off and hurt themselves or someone else?" "Will I be the one to blame if that happens?" In this case it's important to make wise choices, and resist the temptation to engage in familiar responses. In order for behavior to change, both parties have to change.
Proverbs 20:1 NIV "Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise."
The Hebrew words for "wine" and "beer" refer to intoxication. To live in a state of intoxication, albeit from drink or responding to the drinker, is not wise. Both need wisdom. Wisdom comes from God.
James 1:5 NIV "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." For our family, wisdom was found when we began to let Dad be responsible for his own actions. If he was drunk, then whatever happened was on him. Please understand that this was incredibly difficult at first. Our whole family was filled with anxiety as things actually got "worse" before we noticed any change.
The hopeful news is this... things eventually changed... slowly... over time.
We all gained wisdom in the process. Amen.
We ask for wisdom today for all those who love someone who is addicted. We ask for everyone involved to be free from the intoxication that has gripped them all and pray that your presence guides, directs and delivers them from all their troubles. May Your great love and mercy begin this difficult, but necessary work, and bring their families to places of peace and freedom and rest.
6/4/2016 04:49:14 pm
I believe pray is the key. I still struggle with the difference between enabling and helping. Such a fine line.
6/13/2016 05:16:55 am
I love the line stating both parties must change for behaviors to change. Addictions frequently don't disease only the addicted, they spread into the core family unit and change everyone's lives and behavior. Thank you for addressing this in your post.
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The team of Addiction Response Ministry responds with messages of hope, help, and healing.