Someone I Love Dearly (SILD) is a heroin addict who has recently entered treatment for the first time, and this has thrust me into a parallel universe where we all have new identities, distortions of our familiar ones. In this new world, I am a codependent. That means I have gotten so entangled in SILD’s life – futilely trying to fix and re-route and protect, entombing myself in worry and anxiety – that I am in danger of losing my own identity, not to mention niceties like the ability to feel happy. Or successful. Or loved.
So far, I have not been much of an enabler, except to help muster excuses for irresponsibilities. But I can see how enabling is unavoidable once one codepends. Enablers smooth and correct problems, helping addicts avoid consequences of addiction-driven choices and actions. Enabler reports her credit card stolen, then calls off the police when she finds out who – Addict – has been using it. Enabler apologizes and concocts excuses when Addict misses yet another loved one’s birthday party. Enabler notices that Addict forgot to do laundry and handles the chore while Addict sleeps in, probably ignoring the reality that Addict is passed out, not resting, after being too high to care about clean clothes.
It turns out that self-rescue is the only option. Some codependents change because they have become so angry and resentful that they feel no more love for their addicts. I can see getting to that point. Most of the rest of us start the change process because – what else? – we hear that it will help our addicts. But I am determined to stop and to change.
I want my life back, or a new improved version. The catalyst, for me, came with observation of break time at the rehab center. At breaks the alcoholics and other addicts are vivid: talking and laughing – energized and enjoying life despite it all. The families are muted: somber, sad, round-shouldered, resigned. Not a mold I want to fit.