For some reason this topic has been coming up a lot with me lately. Maybe as more of my friends are in our unfortunate situation or maybe more people are opening up about the subject of addiction, but the words " I just want to fix it" keep popping up.
I think, as parents, we do just want to "fix it". We feel it's our job to "fix it". I know a lot of fathers of addicts who say something like, if there is a problem at work, it's my job to "fix it". People come to me for me to "fix it". I am good at my job. I have no doubt most of them are very good at their jobs. Negotiation, following the rules or laws, finding compromise, double checking someone's work are all part of "fixing it". A lot of times when they "fix it", they feel good, they may get rewarded by a promotion or bonus, for saving their company time and money. They stress they can find the solution to the problem and have a hard time understanding why all their efforts in dealing with their addict child in the same way, do not produce the same results as at work.
I guess all I can say is, your work place is probably not infested with the horrible disease of addiction. I or should I say, we, spent a lot of time learning this. I don't think you can learn it over night. I think it's a process to realize you can never be "Mr. Fix It" to your addict child.
If we keep "fixing" things for them, we become enablers very quickly. Enabling leads to co-dependency. And pretty soon, it's a family disease and no one is getting healthy. Everyone is reacting to crisis after crisis, trying to "fix it".
I guess Dr. Bill knew what he was doing when he wrote the steps. Step 1: Accept the things you can not change. You can not "fix" this. You can not change this for your loved one. You can certainly wear yourself out trying and going thru the process of learning this. ( Like we did ). But, if we had not gone thru the "fix it" stage, we would not have arrived to where we are now and I would like to believe my daughter would not be where she is right now.
When my kids were little and fell, I "fixed" it by cleaning the scrape, putting a band aid on it and kissing it. The boo-boo healed nicely, no scars left. Addiction is not like that, we can't reach for the band aids or tool box and "fix it". It goes against our nature as parents, and I personally, think it should.
Pretty soon, we find ourselves in trouble. ( or at least I did). The stress took over, I got physically very sick. I quit socializing and isolated. I didn't cook dinners, going the grocery store was a big chore. The disagreeing or fighting with my husband escalated as we disagreed on how to "fix it". Soon enough, not only was our daughter always in crisis, so were we. How do you "fix" that? It all seemed like too much, where to start, what to do?
Well what I would say, looking back, is, "fix" yourself first. It starts there. And the biggest part is coming to grips that you can't "fix" your child. Your own guilt and shame and feelings and thoughts of where you went wrong, will only hurt you more. When all my efforts and energy of "fixing it" for her, continued to result in the same outcome: her continuing to use, I realized no amount of tools from me could "fix" her. Fixing yourself doesn't come over night... or over many nights.. it was a slow process that I am still working on. But, along with counseling, I started saying "yes" to outings with my friends. I started "faking it, til I made it". Meaning I would go out with my mom friends and pretend to smile and laugh, that eventually I really was smiling and laughing. I started cooking again, a few meals per week and tried to do it with love..knowing my husband and son would appreciate it gave me the satisfaction. I started doing things I missed doing, calling an old friend, doing beading, painting, gardening, playing cards, picking up a book that wasn't about addiction. In all honestly, I felt and sometimes still do, here I am laughing with my friends, or making something I totally enjoy and my daughter is hurting, hurting in ways I can't help her with. One day my son said to me, how come you never make your chicken Alfredo ( aside from clogging my artery's) I related that dish with Emily. I said to my son, well I thought Emily was the only one who liked it. He said oh no, he loved it and missed it. It was as if anything that reminded me of her, vanished, it was easier that way. But, by him bringing that to my attention, I realized, not everything I thought was her favorite, was just for her. I went out that night and got the things to make chicken Alfredo for my son, not her. It felt good.
I hope all the Mr. and Mrs. Fix Its out there, don't stay in that stage as long as I did. I hope your process goes faster than mine did. My tool box now contains sticky notes as reminders for me to stay healthy, it contains saying yes to things and not isolating, it contains simple things done with love for those around me, it also includes me saying no to things, its ok for me to say no. It also contains boundaries. It includes things I will support and spend my time and energy on and the things I won't. The good thing about my tool box, I can take things out and put new things in there, so I can "fix" myself and everybody wins then, they have all of me, healthy and not run down.