In January 2012, Avery came to us and said she was ready to go to a recovery center. We dropped her off at a small, local recovery center for 30 days. I was so relieved. I knew she would be safe for that month and was so happy she would be educated about the dangers of excessive drinking. And, because she was so smart, that would nip it in the bud and she would go on to have a very happy, sober life!
Her brother was concerned about her, but wondered why Avery just didn't stop drinking if it was becoming a problem for her. Frankly, I wondered the same thing. Relief and understanding came when I learned that addiction is a disease, just like cancer or diabetes. No one wants any of those diseases, but you can't just wish it away or choose to not have them. Addiction also has symptoms, just like hives from an allergic reaction or low blood sugar from diabetes. It was hard to get my head around a symptom or by-product of addiction is stealing, lying, cheating, and police trouble. I couldn't imagine my sweet daughter doing any of those things and it broke my heart. But, when I could see them as symptoms of a disease, that she didn't want to have, and doing things she didn't want to do, and see the shame that she held inside for having done those things, I could have compassion. It is hard to understand that addiction is a disease and not a moral failing on my daughter's part or mine as a parent. To be mad at her for having a disease and having symptoms of that disease does not help anyone. It took a long time for me to figure out how to give her love and compassion while still maintaining important boundaries.
I had so much work to do on my own to fix my issues of co-dependency and enabling. It is counterintuitive as a parent to not want to help/fix/enable your child. I had to re-learn how to "stay in my own backyard" and let her have the dignity of being a responsible adult and "take care of her own backyard." I can meet her at the "fence" between our yards, but we both needed to tend our own gardens.