By Rick R

As a practicing alcoholic, I became very crafty when it came to manipulating the people who loved me. I made promise after promise to change the way I did things, but I always disappointed them, which only made things worse for them and for me, as I see it now. What they did not know then, was that most of the time when they gave in trying to meet my requests, they were not helping me. Well meaning as they were, they were in fact, enabling me and that only perpetuated my problem. When I was turned down, I just went to the next one on my list, until I found someone that could not say no.

After I entered Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) and got deeper into the program I had to address my behavioral problems of the past and make restitution to those people. I realized how difficult it was for a loved one to say “No” to a child or a friend when they appeal to them the way we do. Then came the acid test for me.

If that had not happened would you be here right now?

I received a collect phone call from a divorced relative, (mother of two daughters ages 11 and 13) asking me for what was a goodly amount of money at that time. I was aware of her use of drugs and her priorities about her children. At first, she did not want to say why she needed the money, but after I insisted, she said that she was in jail and need to get bailed out. Visions of my past came back, and I was now on the receiving end of the enabling process. Writing the check would have been the easy thing to do, but as I now understand, not the right thing. I asked her why she called me instead of her friends. She replied, ”yours was the only number I could find.” I thought about it for moment then said, “If I thought It would help, I would be all over it. But, I know your track record and I know that if I bail you out, you will be running again, and your girls need you right now.That was the best thing I could do for her at that time and I have never regretted it, and neither has she. She has nothing but respect for me today for having the strength to say “No” when that was the right answer. She has been sober for about 30 years.

Every so often a new person shows up at a meeting and is complaining about the bad break that came about that brought them to the program and when I get a chance to talk to them on a personal level the first question, I ask them is: “If that had not happened would you be here right now?” and their usual response is, “Probably not.”

I received a collect phone call from a divorced relative

The right decision is not always the most popular one and I may be misunderstood when I make it, but in good conscience I do try to muster up the strength to make it. Writing the check would have been the easy way and I may have been applauded for doing it.  But for me, it would have been the more selfish thing to do. That single act may have been the turning point in her life, but no one can predict the outcome of any decision we make. As I look back on it now. If no one ever said “No” to me, I may never have changed and could have reached the point of no return and ended badly. Sometimes I must risk the disapproval of those that do not understand me. I, however, must make sure that my motives are unselfish.   

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