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