No More Enabling Another’s Addiction!

I’ve fallen into enabling people with addictions for much of my life starting with my mother. You may be wondering what that means. Put quite simply, it means helping another acquire something they’re addicted to, that’s not healthy for them.

Long after I stopped consuming alcohol, taking drugs, and smoking cigarettes, I was still helping people who were addicted to those things to acquire them, whether that was by means of me buying it directly out of my pocket for them, driving them to get it, loaning them the money to get it, or taking money from them to go get it. Doing any was extremely unhealthy for me, as it was for them. Helping another to further engage in the substance of their addiction, knowing it is only going to hurt them even more, is toxic on every level.

Recently, I was on a retreat and was going out on a coffee run with another friend who was driving when I was asked by a fellow retreatant, whom I also consider to be a good friend, to pick up a pack of cigarettes for them while out on that run. They were going to give me the money for it, yet I refused to do it. The result? They weren’t very happy with me and proceeded to give me guilt trips, suggesting that I was going out to feed my Starbucks addiction, so why couldn’t I help them with their vice.

So why couldn’t I? The reality is I could have. I could have taken my friend’s money and bought him another pack of cigarettes. But, I also had just sat next to him in his hospital bed several months prior where his state of health was in dire straits and honestly still is. With kidneys not functioning correctly, some of the advice given was to stop smoking and to stop consuming energy drinks, as both were only going to make his health worse.

So, why the heck would I even consider taking my friend’s money to get something that is only going to lead to continued health problems for him. In my past, I would have done it, just to make them temporarily happy and not mad at me. It was always essentially me people-pleasing, especially more so if I was attracted to the person. But, if I truly care about him from my heart and soul like I do, there is no hell in high water, on any planet, anywhere in this universe where I would want to help him acquire another cigarette or energy drink because it’s only going to lead to greater health problems and possibly even death down the road.

I really do care about this friend, like I do other friends who have serious addictions as well, where each I’ve at times had to set a boundary and not help them further engage in their addictions. I am setting healthy boundaries today which includes preventing myself from people-pleasing addicts into remaining addicts.

Sometimes unconditional love hurts, as it did in this case when my friend deemed my actions unloving, when indeed if he could have stepped out of his frustration and withdrawal from his heavy smoking habit, he would have seen a caring friend and brother in God’s love simply trying to help him remain a little longer on this planet by not taking another breath of poison into his body.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Drama Bombing A 12-Step Meeting…

I can’t imagine what it would have been like for me to get sober during a global pandemic where the majority of meetings and in-person 12-step recovery work was grossly limited. But, there are people out there who are trying to do that very thing right now in their life. Unfortunately, not everyone who is trying though is always serious about getting on that recovery path and often uses the 12-Step meetings instead simply for drama bombing.

Before I get into what drama bombing is though, let me say this. I often wonder where the direction of the meetings I attend are going to head, because quite frequently, whenever any newcomer arrives, like this man did, the direction is one where many of us who’ve been around for some time pep up and have a lot of good things to say to help the person out. In other words, “newbies” frequently tend to reinvigorate us “oldbies”, which is precisely what happened at my home group that night.

It began with this man standing the entire meeting and sharing how his wife wants him out after 34 years of marriage. He spoke how his life is presently in total shambles because of his alcoholism. I initially empathized with him, as he spoke in tears of how he doesn’t want to lose his marriage and how he came to a meeting 5 years ago and scoffed at why long-timers keep coming back, even after decades of sobriety. He had wondered why they couldn’t just manage well on their own and had left that day never to come back until now, having let his disease grow even worse for five more years. He also mentioned how in two weeks he’d be on an annual fishing trip with his son and how that trip is normally a big drinking fest for him. He was really concerned how he could manage going on it. Overall, he genuinely appeared very broken over the state of his affairs, which I’m sure included the DUI he recently got.

I heard a lot of fire come out of a number of us there that evening after he got done sharing all this and it was most definitely one of the best meetings I’ve been to since these COVID times began. The man received priceless suggestions of what to do next in his life and it got hammered repeatedly for him to stick around after the meeting to get some numbers from men who could help him remain clean and sober through this difficult time. I honestly hoped much of what we had all said had resonated with him and that he was ready to finally get on the path of recovery. But instead, as soon as the meeting ended he left, without talking to anyone, and ultimately did what I used to do quite a bit in my own early sobriety, that being to drama bomb every meeting I attended.

Do you know what drama bombing is?

Drama bombing is when someone simply shows up to a meeting solely to unleash all the crap from their life onto those there, to complain about what’s going on, mostly to gain sympathy for a brief moment in time, and then to leave without any plan to actually do anything about it.

OH, HOW I KNOW THAT PATTERN FAR…TOO…WELL!

The first 12 years of my sobriety, where I didn’t do any recovery work whatsoever on myself, I did that very thing this man did with incredible regularity. I went from meeting to meeting eliciting sympathy from one person after another about the state of my own affairs. Crying about my father’s suicide, my mother’s tragic drunken fall, the countless losses of friends, jobs, relationships, and more. Yet, taking all those suggestions and really, metaphorically speaking, doing nothing more than throwing them all away in a trash receptacle as I left at the end of each meeting.

Here’s the bottom line I learned long after the pain of avoiding doing the recovery work had damaged multiple facets of my overall life. 12 Step recovery meetings aren’t for drama bombing! They aren’t for someone to simply come in and share all the misery that alcoholism and drug addiction, or any other addiction for that matter, has unleashed upon their lives. What they are there for, are for people to find a plan to recover. They’re there for people to receive sober support. And they’re there for individuals to listen to other’s experience, strength, and hope so that one day it can become part of their own sober journey in future sharings. But what they’re not there for is to hold a meeting hostage with drama bombing, as that is only continuing in a long-pattern of selfishness that addiction always tends to brings an individual.

But you know what? In the end, it was this man’s drama bombing that provided me a much-needed reminder of one of my worst patterns of addiction and it showed me how far I’ve actually come in my recovery. So, thank you 12 Step recovery, Alcoholics Anonymous, and of course God, for this man and for continuing to attend the meetings for the right reasons, the reasons that have kept me recovering for over 25 years and counting!

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Alcoholics And Addicts Of All Varieties Are Truly Great Liars!

Alcoholics and addicts of all varieties are truly great liars. I was greatly reminded of that just about a week ago when a potential sponsee pulled a fast one on me that I fell hook, line, and sinker for.

After all the years I’ve been around the rooms of recovery and all the lies I’ve been told from people that were still living deep in their disease of addiction, I can honestly say it’s been a good while since someone actually lied to me where I didn’t know it was a lie. That’s why I was so surprised when it happened the other day and this is how it all started.

I had met this guy at the local place I volunteer at. He had been one of the clients at the meeting I put on Wednesday evenings and had engaged quite a bit throughout it, asking plenty of questions, including asking for my number. Having given my number out countless times in the past, I didn’t place much stock into him even using it. Ironically, I was wrong, as I received a call the very next day after he had checked out of the crisis center.

He immediately asked for a sponsor, of which I agreed to meet with him that Sunday afternoon. He then proceeded to call me the next two days, checking in to help him remain clean and sober for another day. When Sunday morning came, I received a text asking for confirmation of where we were meeting and I responded with the details. Two hours prior to our start time, he called me, asking again for confirmation of where we were meeting, indicating he hadn’t gotten my text.

After having talked with him at length on the previous three days, I gave him the benefit of the doubt that he really hadn’t gotten my text with the details. I gave them to him again and then he asked a strange question, which at the time I didn’t think anything of. He told me his girlfriend was probably going to come with him, as she too was struggling with some alcohol addiction issues, but had some level of agoraphobia and needed to see the configuration of our meeting for her to attend. I told him that would be breaking tradition and again accepted he was telling me the truth.

When 5pm hit, I was waiting at a Starbucks where we were to meet. 5pm turned into 5:15, then 5:30, with none of my calls to him getting answered. At 5:50, my phone finally rang. He sounded normal and profusely apologized that his car wasn’t working. He said he had been trying for the past few hours to get it working and finally gave up. He apologized again and asked if we could meet up sometime during the week to attend another meeting. After telling him the only availability I had was the following Sunday at the same time, he agreed to try again then, but in the meantime was going to go check out another meeting I had suggested. And then I asked him to call me the next time he might be late for one of our meetings.

I moved on with my evening after that, attending my home group, during which my phone rang twice from a number I didn’t recognize. When I called it back after my meeting ended, it was this guy’s wife. She asked me if her husband had come to my meeting, which I thought odd, given how he had briefly mentioned that his car trouble had involved his wife trying to help him get it started.

When she told me that he had left in his car at 3pm and had just returned home, I, of course, knew then he had lied to me. She continued by letting me know that he said the meeting was great and how good of a lead it was. What’s funny is how my meeting is an open discussion and not a lead. It also then occurred to me why he wanted that picture of the configuration at the meeting. He was going to use it to convince his wife that he attended!

Here’s the sad reality I will re-mention….

Alcoholics and addicts of all varieties are truly great liars. They do everything right for a short bit of time, creating smoke and mirrors for everyone close to them to believe they are finally on the right track. But inevitably, at some point, for many, the disease beckons them back in to where they then create even greater smoke and mirrors, through lies and deception, so that no one knows they’re back in their disease. Lies then become greater. More lies are told to cover up the previous lies. Until all those around them don’t even know what to believe anymore, like this panicked wife calling me and eventually putting me on a three-way call out of anger, which was extremely uncomfortable to say the least.

So, while I have no idea whether this guy’s wife really was agoraphobic or not, I was actually thankful to have been on the receiving end of all this guy’s lies. If for anything, it reminded me that addicts are sick to the very core and will lie in the most amazing ways where even they tend to believe them, just to escape the truth that they are sick and screwed up.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Artur Dawson