One of the hardest things to do when a loved one is in recovery is to stay out of their business.   After years of arguing, pleading, demanding, and crying over decisions they made, it’s tempting to continue that behavior.  It was hard enough to let my son fall on his face because of decisions he made while in active addiction, but it seems even harder now to stand by and watch to see if he makes a bad decision in recovery.

I’ve heard that an addict reverts to behaving as if he is about the age in which he started using.  I don’t know about that, but I do know that my son’s active addiction started 13 years ago.  He has 3 years clean, so for 10 years he was out there in addiction land.  When he got clean, he was 27, so he started back over at about age 18, maybe younger.  He will tell you that is about how old he feels sometimes.  By 30, he should be fairly grounded in a career and a life, but starting over, he’s had to do a lot in a short amount of time – find work when he has no real work history, live on his own, make financial decisions that are a result of his long-term drug use, poor decisions regarding credit  and multiple hospital visits and doctor visits in an effort to get drugs, not to mention the car accidents and other injuries.  That’s a lot to pull out of at 18 – it’s like you graduate from high school and someone hands you the bill for raising you and paying for your education.  I’m not feeling sorry for him-these are consequences of his actions- but I do have some empathy for him living a life of recovery, making meetings daily, working fulltime and supporting himself on a low-paying job,  and having to pay for the actions of the other guy he was.

He hasn’t complained though.  Going to meetings daily helps him stay focused, and church helps him know the struggle will be worth it.  It’s my problem when he tells me about what he is facing, and I would love to have the financial resources to help him, but I don’t.  He’s never asked me to, but I feel a little guilty just the same.  I know he needs someone to talk to about things, and I am relieved that he trusts me enough to do that.  I just can’t help thinking, in the back of my mind, he’s telling me this so I will rescue him.   Because that’s what we used to do.  He’d say:  poor me, mom, and I’d try to bail him out of trouble.  Until I dug myself a financial hole that’s taken years to get out of. 

I have to believe that he can stand on his own feet.  I sent him money when he was in treatment, but once he started working he told me to stop.  That made me really proud.  I want to meddle when he does things I think are stupid (like buying a very large dog).  But, it’s not my place.  I need to treat him like a 30 year-old man.  One who makes mistakes and learns from them-on his own.